Protests in the town of Cizre in spite of Turkish Censorship
On Sunday Kurdish residents of Cizre, Şırnak Province of Turkey gathered by the thousands to participate in a protest organized by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). The mayor of Cizre, Mustafa Gören, was also in attendance, and a general strike was enacted alongside the planned protest. Turkish authorities had refused to issue permission for the protest in the first place, citing the display of pro-PKK propaganda as an excuse. Turkish forces predictably arrived to disperse the protesters using water canons and tear gas. In response, protesters threw stones at police vehicles and lit off fireworks. A video of the protest reveals the extent of the clashes between protesters and police.
The clashes occurred in the context of increased tension in the region, as Turkish authorities severely crack down on a more active PKK. The tension has many Kurds worried about the repercussions of a renewal of an open conflict between the PKK and the Turkish state.
Turkey’s crackdown on the Cirze protest was only one of multiple protests this summer which were denied a permit by the authorities and then dispersed violently. Because the power to legitimize the protests lies exclusively in the hands of Turkish authorities, the denial of permits paves the way to instead legitimize the repression of the protests, often through violent means. When Kurdish groups then insist on gathering anyway, knowing they will be received with violence, the protest serves to both express the original sentiment, and resist Turkish censorship. The protests push the Turkish state to allow the free expression of ideas by making it clear that they will be expressed either way.