Kurdish Activist Killed By Turkish Army: “Every Revolution Begins With A Small Spark”


Kader Ortakaya

On Thursday, reports spread on social media that activist Kader Ortakaya had been shot by the Turkish army when she was forming part of a human chain by the Suruç-Kobanê border.

The 28-year-old sociologist had been taking part in shows of resistance by the border with Syria for almost a month along with other activists and artists in solidarity with the Kurdish fighters defending Kobanê against Daesh (Islamic State terrorists).

Ortokaya was killed when Turkish soldiers fired live bullets and tear gas at a human chain formed by members of the “Free Art Initiative.”

Today, she was laid to rest after her body was brought back from a hospital in Kobanê.

Two activists who were with her said Ortakaya was actually killed when she crossed the border into Kobanê together with a group of around 20 people.

According to bianet.org, several people were affected by the tear gas while four activists (Ali Baran, Adil Aslan, Naif Aslan and Mustafa Kılıç (75)) were wounded.

Funeral of Kadar Ortakaya (photo via @ali_gurr, twitter)

Firat News Agency writes that according to the two activists, Ortakaya was crossing the border to join the resistance against Daesh  and help civilians still in Kobanê when without warning she was shot by the Turkish army. Ortakaya was part of a group consisting of 15-20 people. A member of the group said Ortakaya had been carrying a bag with children’s clothes that she wanted to hand out to the civilians in Kobanê.

Dicle News Agency has published a letter that was allegedly written by Ortakaya and meant to be sent to her parents before she crossed the border into Kobanê. The letter, that ends with the line “Goodbye for the moment”, indicates that she had planned to join the resistance in Rojava (Kurdish regions in northern Syria) and that it was not a decision made in the moment. A passage from the letter reads,

I am in Kobanê. This war is not only a war of the people of Kobanê, but a war for all of us. I am joining this fight for my beloved family and for humanity. If we fail today to see this war as a war for us, we will remain alone when the bombs hit our houses tomorrow. To win this war means that the poor and the exploited win. I believe that I can be more useful by joining this war rather than becoming an office worker.

Her words have been echoed by many other Kurds who have joined the Kurdish forces in Kobanê, especially Kurds from Turkey. For weeks, Kurds have been watching at the border as the fighting escalated between the Kurdish fighters from YPG/YPJ and Daesh with the Turkish government preventing them from joining the struggle. Turkish military has placed tanks and personnel along the border in order to keep Kurds from strengthening the city’s defence and possibly make Turkey’s worst nightmare a reality: the creation of a strong autonomous Kurdish region.

A post from Ortakaya’s facebook dated September 30 has been shared widely:

Every revolution begins with a small spark. And there exists a fire of life at the barrel of every gun. Such great dreams begin with journeys in which the ways are hit by those daring it.

People are also posting photos on social media of family, friends and supporters gathering to pay their last respect to Ortakaya. Her death has made organisations and activists yet again call upon a greater support for the resistance in Kobanê.

@Keylani_ (Twitter)

@Keylani_ (Twitter)

There are regularly reports about Turkish border patrols shooting at people crossing the border without warning; some are killed, some wounded, others arrested.

A member of my family recently tried to cross the border. He was with a small group of Kurds. One of them was a woman who was fleeing the war in Rojava with her two sons and one daughter. The oldest was 5 or 6 years old. As they tried to cross the border in the dark, they were shot at without warning. The young men in the group were fast, they could run. But the woman threw herself on the ground to avoid the bullets. My cousin said he and the other men went back to help her under the rain of bullets.

My cousin took one of the woman’s sons and fled with him. He told us he could not see a thing and that, as they were running and searching for cover, fell into a hole with water. They called the other refugees for help and were rescued by some from their group. My cousin managed to cross the border after hours of running and hiding with the boy. Well on the other side, he heard that the mother of the boy had been arrested.

Meanwhile, more and more reports indicate that Turkey allows member of Daesh (Islamic State) to move freely across the border and inside Turkey, most recently this story from Newsweek: “‘ISIS Sees Turkey as Its Ally’; Former Islamic State Member Reveals Turkish Army Cooperation.”

This has prompted Kurdish members of the Turkish parliament to demand answers from Turkey’s Interior Minister Efkan Ala and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

MP Faysal Sarıyıldız from HDP (the People’s Democratic Party) raised these following questions:

 Why were shots fired at Kader Ortakaya and her friends when it was known they were civilians? Has an investigation been initiated into the officers who gave the order? Why were Kader Ortakaya and her friends deliberately fired at rather than being detained?

How many people have been killed or wounded on the Rojava border in the last two years? While your government has been in power how many people have been killed on the border? What is the distribution of these deaths by province?

Have any ISIS members been killed, wounded or arrested while crossing the border in Hatay, Kilis and Urfa? How many ISIS members are in custody and how many have been released?

Why did soldiers who claimed they had ‘warned’ armed ISIS members who violated the Turkish border a week before Kader Ortakaya was shot, open fire at civilians without warning?

It is disturbing that the international community continues to portray Turkey as a friend and ally when Turkey is not just more than suspected of aiding Daesh in their fight against the Kurds but continue to violate Kurdish rights on a daily basis and murder Kurds, children and adults, without taking responsibility and without being condemned by the international community.

The murder of Kader Ortakaya was yet another sign of Turkey’s attitude towards the Kurds: that a Kurdish life has no value in Turkey.