Murdered Kurdish worker buried under military blockade

Kurdish construction worker Özkan Tokay, who was murdered the day before by in western Turkey, has been buried in his hometown in the Kurdish region. The funeral was accompanied by military measures.

Kurdish construction worker Özkan Tokay, who was shot dead the day before in the western Anatolian province of Afyon, has been laid to rest today. The funeral in Erciş district of Van was accompanied by intensive police and military measures. By order of the governor Mehmet Emin Bilmez, who was also present, only the closest family members of the victim were allowed to attend the ceremony. Many people protested in front of the cemetery, including HDP member of parliament Murat Sarısaç and members of the HDP Van provincial branch. Correspondents from Mezopotamya news agency (MA) and JinNews were also prevented from covering the funeral.


The racially motivated attack took place on Sunday evening at about 7:30 p.m. local time when 25-year-old Özkan Tokay was on a construction site in the Dinar district together with his brother Fırat (15) and five co-workers. A local resident, who has since been identified as Ömer A., is reported to have complained to the workers about "dust generated by the construction work". There erupted a discussion, and suddenly the man pulled out his gun and hit the head of 15-year-old Fırat T. with it. Özkan Tokay intervened and was killed by Ömer A. with several shots. 28-year-old Emrah Ö. was also shot. While the four other construction workers who witnessed the events remained unharmed, the perpetrator is now being searched for.

The relatives of the Kurdish construction workers, who had left Van in the evening to go to Afyon, were denied entry to the village. According to HDP MP Murat Sarısaç, the entry ban was ordered by the mayor of Afyon, the police chief and the attorney general. The family members of the attack victims were advised to instruct the two injured persons to transfer the body of Tokay. "Persons whose birthplace is Van will not be allowed through anyway," they were said.

MP Sarısaç: Özkan was murdered because he was a Kurd

HDP MP Murat Sarısaç, who was not allowed to attend the funeral, declared that Özkan Tokay had been murdered solely because of his Kurdish identity. The governing coalition of AKP and MHP is responsible for this, he said, because polarizing and divisive discourses are aggravating the tension in society with the aim of bringing about a Kurdish genocide. "But we Kurds should also feel responsible for the death of this person. If there are people among us who do not see the pain of the loss of Özkan as their own pain, they should doubt themselves and question their actions constantly.”

Deep-seated intolerance towards Kurds

Anti-Kurdish racism has always characterized Turkey. Only recently, in the western Turkish province of Sakarya, a group of 16 seasonal workers from Mazıdağı district of Mardin was lynched by a Turkish farmer and his relatives. The mob consisted both of two sons of the owner of the hazelnut plantation, on which the harvest workers had been working for more than two weeks, and of other residents of the village. Video footage showed the seasonal workers being attacked by several males, and a 15-year-old girl was even slapped. Two urgently suspected offenders, who were arrested after the racist attack only as a result of public profiling, are now at large again.