Press conference against racist attack in Bursa: “Amedspor is not alone”

The Amedspor team was welcomed by thousands of fans in Amed after the organised racist attacks in Bursa. An alliance of NGOs called for criminal consequences and said: "Amedspor is not alone!"

The Amedspor football team was welcomed by thousands of fans and people in solidarity on their return to Amed (tr. Diyarbakir) after the lynching attacks at the away match in Bursa. The Platform for Protection and Solidarity, an alliance of more than 80 non-governmental organisations formed after the earthquake in the city, held a press conference with fan groups of the football club and denounced the organised racist attacks at the match against Bursaspor on Sunday.

Burç Baysal, chairman of Amedspor's advisory board, pointed out that it was the club's first match after the earthquake and Kurdish teams are constantly confronted with racist chants. Referring to the use of racist symbols in yesterday's match, Baysal explained that they were meant to remind Kurdish society of the bloody 1990s and it was clearly perceived that way by the Kurds. Baysal said: "We do not believe that only the fan community living in Bursa is involved in these incidents. Our teams have been affected by these incidents for many years. Amedspor and our regional teams are not teams that can be marginalised and segregated. All political components, employees in the state bureaucracy and the sporting public should know this very clearly."


Nahit Eren, President of the Amed Bar Association, issued a statement on behalf of the NGOs, pointing out that the attacks started the day before the match: "The Amedspor club was subjected to insults, threats and racially motivated hate speech by a group of people who appeared in front of the hotel where the technical team and football players were staying before the match against Bursaspor. The authorities did not take sufficient preventive measures to stop these acts, which started accompanied by fireworks before the match. The judiciary did not initiate proceedings against the perpetrators and the authorities did not issue preventive and condemnatory statements. Encouraged by this lack of response, unacceptable and criminal attacks and acts were committed the next day during the competition."


Regarding the match day proceedings, Eren stated that the attacks started again when the Amedspor footballers and technical team entered the pitch and continued until they left the stadium: "From the first moment the Amedspor footballers and technical delegation entered the pitch until the moment they left the stadium, they were subjected to physical and verbal attacks from Bursaspor footballers, technical staff and spectators, as well as hateful and abusive chants from the spectators. "

The signs displayed in the spectator stands with names of paramilitary forces and pictures of white Toros Renaults associated with the unsolved murders and forced disappearances in the 1990s are a clear indication of organised racism, said Eren and continued: "We are aware of the message that is meant to be conveyed by the display of these symbols, which with all their darkness are embedded in the memory of Kurdish society, during a football match. These threats are meant to create an atmosphere of fear."

Eren pointed out that the threats and ruthlessness against the Kurds are fuelled by the impunity for the acts in the 1990s and said, "In the days when we as a country mourn the pain caused by a great earthquake disaster and show great solidarity to heal the wounds together, we must stand together against the evil that is aimed by these ugly incidents. Amedspor inspires people in our city and in many parts of the country with its success and sportsmanship. Unfortunately, this feeling created by Amedspor is not resonating and supported by the authorities, especially in our city, and Amedspor's already limited opportunities are being restricted, with penalties and exclusion being imposed. We cannot say that the events of the last two days are independent of this attitude of the public authorities towards Amedspor. However, everyone should know that Amedspor is not alone and that the entire institutional dynamics of our city and its supporters across the country will continue to support the team. We would like to make the following clear: If the authorities remain silent and do not react to what happened yesterday and the day before, if there are no sporting and criminal sanctions and if those responsible do not resign, it means that these actions are approved."


Eren went on to say that Amedspor would appeal to UEFA's Ethics and Disciplinary Body due to the racist and discriminatory behaviour during and before the match: "Hate speech and criminal offences pose a significant threat to the principle of equality, which is one of the prerequisites for a democratic social order, as well as to sports law. We recall that the prohibition of hate and discrimination is one of the fundamental principles of international human rights protection and call on the judicial authorities to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice. We call for the immediate launch of investigations against the governor and the chief of police in Bursa, as well as against all public officials responsible for the serious acts that endangered social peace during the competition and who did not take the necessary precautions from the first night."