State putting pressure on shops and trades in Van

After the seizure of the HDP-run municipalities in Van, thousands of Turkish liras fines were imposed on tens of tradesmen. Shopkeepers who were already in a difficult financial situation because of the economic crisis were worse off after the fines.

The economic crisis which hit the country has also affected Kurdistan cities where the AKP war policy is heavily felt.

Tradesmen in Van are among the most affected by the economic crisis. With two major earthquakes in 2011, over 4 thousand tradesmen had to close shutters in Van. Thousands of tradesmen unable to work after the earthquake went bankrupt because they could not pay their debts to the banks and the state.

Cross-border trade banned

The city of Van, on the border with Iran, was surviving thanks to cross-border trade. With the closing of the border gates in Van and the prohibition of cross-border trade by the AKP Government in recent years, Van tradesmen and the people have suffered a new heavy economic blow.

Thousands of people living on cross-border trade are now unemployed and hundreds of tradesmen closed shutters. After the HDP won many municipalities, beginning with Van Metropolitan Municipality, in the local elections of 31 March, tradesmen and the people were able to take a breath and started to recuperate economically speaking.

All went bad after the seizure of the HDP-run municipalities

However, after the seizure of the HDP-run Van Metropolitan Municipality and all other municipalities on 19 August, unemployment rose again, and tradesmen were once again unable to run their business.

Along with trustees, finance and police teams are raiding dozens of tradesmen almost on a daily basisi, confiscating their property and fining them thousands of Turkish liras. 

The sale of goods brought by Iranian tradesmen from Iran and Southern Kurdistan has also been prohibited. Among the goods prohibited are phones and cigarettes, as well as basic products such as sugar, rice, tea. Shopkeepers selling these goods are raided by the police, the goods are confiscated and fined up to 10 times their value.

Police raid and fine shopkeepers

Police raided a phone shop in the center of Van and confiscated phones worth 10 thousand Turkish liras. The police fined the shopkeeper for 80 thousand Turkish liras.

A shopkeeper who had been raided said, on condition of anonimity: "The state does not want us to do business. I have been selling basic supplies such as sugar, tea and rice that I got from border trade. Goods brought from across the border are cheaper. This allows both us and the people to get some benefit."

The shopkeeper added: "Since Turkish goods are very expensive, the purchasing power of both us and citizens is not enough. Although the goods we bring from border countries are legal, they are collected by the state. Our goods are confiscated and we are fined hundreds of thousands of Turkish liras. The state has only one goal here, to starve the people of Van."