Turkish mob attacks tourists displaying Iraqi-Kurdistan flag... police arrest tourists

Turkish mob attacks tourists displaying Iraqi-Kurdistan flag... police arrest tourists
A video has emerged on YouTube showing a mob in the Turkish town of Caykara attacking tourists who displayed the flag of Iraqi Kurdistan
3 min read
20 July, 2019
The incident happened after an Iraqi Kurdish tourist displayed the flag of Iraqi Kurdistan [Getty]

Video has emerged on YouTube showing a violent attack by a mob in the town of Caykara in northeastern Turkey against Iraqi Kurdish tourists as police look on and eventually move in to arrest to visitors.

A large number of Turks can be seen running towards the tourists before physically assaulting them. A Turkish police van is conspicuously present in the video.

Tensions are high following the assassination of Turkish diplomats this week in the Iraqi-Kurdish city of Erbil.

The trouble started when one of the Iraqi Kurdish tourists, a young man, took out a scarf in the colours of the Iraqi Kurdish flag with the word "Kurdistan" emblazoned on it.

He was immediately attacked by an old Turkish man and several other locals joined in the assault against him.

Turkish police arrested nine Iraqi tourists while letting the attackers go free.

Tensions are high between Turks and Kurds in Turkey, where the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has been engaged in an armed campaign for independence or autonomy in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey since 1978.

Previously, Turkey banned the use of the Kurdish language or any references to "Kurdistan" although many former restrictions have now been lifted.

The Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) condemned the incident in a statement, pointing out that the Iraqi Kurdish flag has previously been displayed in Turkey.

"The Flag of the Kurdistan Region is recognised by the Iraqi Constitution, and has been previously displayed at Turkish airports to welcome official delegates from the Kurdistan Region," the KRG statement said.

A statement from the local authorities of Trabzon province, where Caykara is located, said.

"Today at 11am in Uzungol neighbourhood, Caykara district, 9 of 50 people who have come to our country for tourism were taking photographs with a scarf with the word 'Kurdistan' written on it."

After the fight broke out, "our forces intervened in the incident, calming down our citizens and controlling the situation. Caykara's public prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for nine of the Iraqis over the incident and opened investigation", the statement continued.

The nine tourists were later released, according to the KRG.

The incident was widely condemned by both Turks and Kurds.

The Kurdish news website Rudaw quoted Mustafa Yeneroglu, an MP from Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) saying on Twitter: "The displayed flag/scarf was the flag of the Kurdistan Region in Northern Iraq. Surely, the people of this region respect their flag and love it just like we do. An attack on KRG's flag in Trabzon is as ugly as an attack on a Turkish flag in Erbil [the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan]."