Posts tagged ‘Ziya Gökalp Museum’


Turkish and Kurdish, secularist and Islamist sites burned. Anti-massacre (“pro-Kurdish”) protesters unjustly blamed.

Hyperallergic have published my look at the targets of political violence in unrest over Kobani in Turkey. While anti-massacre protesters – who were presented as pro-Kurdish or Kurdish nationalist protesters – were blamed, some of their communities’ own buildings were burned.

Apart from the buildings that were selectively (and incompetently) exploited in government propaganda (such as Ziya Gökalp Museum, Siirt Province Public Library and Varto Cultural Centre), I argue that ‘a disparate range of violent groups variously burned statues of the secularist founder of the Turkish state, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, offices of the Islamist-rooted governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), offices of the Kurdish opposition Democratic Regions Party (DBP) – which is still known by its old name, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) – offices of the minority opposition People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and offices of the Sunni Islamist Free Cause Party (Hür Dava)’.


I did report the allegation that Kurdish nationalists had burned the Ziya Gökalp Museum. But I did not accept it.

‘Kurdish nationalists are alleged to have been involved in the looting and arson of the Ziya Göklap Museum [Ziya Gökalp Museum] and other cultural sites during widespread unrest throughout Turkey, Conflict Antiquities reports’ (artnet news reports). To be crystal clear, I did report the allegation, but I did not accept it. As I noted in the title, ‘the Ziya Gökalp Museum might have been burned by Kurdish anti-Turkish nationalists, but not the Mordem Cultural Centre’.

As I concluded, while we need more evidence to know what really happened, while Kurdish protesters against persecution may have burned these buildings in their outraged protests against the Islamic State, while activists from both sides may have burned these buildings, it seemed most likely that the buildings were burned by Islamists in order to defame and discredit the [anti-IS] protesters‘ and ‘to punish and disadvantage local communities for their disobedience’.


Destruction during Kobani unrest in Turkey: the Ziya Gökalp Museum might have been burned by Kurdish anti-Turkish nationalists, but not the Mordem Cultural Centre…

Siirt Province Director of Culture and Tourism, Cengizhan Başaran, said ‘our library was set on fire in unpermitted protests. Regarding our stock, nothing remained, our computers, our chairs and our tables burned. [İzinsiz gösterilerde kütüphanemiz ateşe verildi…. Demirbaşa ait hiçbir şey kalmadı, bilgisayarlarımız, sandalyelerimiz ve masalarımız yandı.]’

Allegedly, a number of other cultural sites ‘were both looted and burned by protesters [göstericiler tarafından hem yağmalandı hem de yakıldı]’. But the circumstantial evidence suggests that the protesters against the Islamic State’s assault on Kobani in Syria (and against the Turkish state’s inaction regarding the looming massacre on its border) were not responsible for the arson.

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