The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has accused the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of laying the groundwork for an allegedly racist attack in which seven members of the Dedeoğlu family, who had been targeted in racist attacks in the past, were murdered in Turkey’s central Konya province, local media reported on Friday.
Three female and four male members of the family were shot dead on Friday in their home in Konya by unknown assailants, who took 19 shots in total and then tried to burn the house down, according to local media reports. The state-run Anadolu news agency on Saturday reported that 10 suspects were detained in connection to the attack.
“This [AKP] government has been increasingly using hate speech against the HDP and the Kurds … and has been making statements that laid the groundwork for such massacres,” HDP co-leader Mithat Sancar said in a press statement on Friday.
“Similar attacks have recently taken place in Afyon, Ankara and Konya provinces. However, the ruling party chose to pursue policies that paved the way for those attacks instead of taking precautions,” Sancar added, calling on Turkey’s opposition parties to stand with them.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul deputy Aykut Erdoğdu also held the ruling AKP responsible for the massacre of the Dedeoğlu family. “We are fed up with your ignorance… We are fed up with your fascism… We are fed up with your discrimination…” he said in a tweet, addressing the government.
The massacre sparked a public outcry, with thousands of social media users, including representatives of civil society organizations, politicians, journalists and academics, criticizing the AKP government and local authorities for failing to protect the family of seven.
According to the Gazete Duvar news website, members of the Dedeoğlu family were seriously injured on May 12 in an attack by a large group of people, including many of their neighbors, because of their Kurdish identity. Gazete Duvar in mid-July quoted a member of the Dedeoğlu family as saying that the assailants had identified themselves as members of the Grey Wolves (Ülkü Ocakları), which is linked to the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an ally of the ruling AKP, and told them, “Kurds are not allowed to live here.”
Ten people were detained and six were arrested at the time in relation to the incident, but all were released due to lack of evidence, while the court issued protection orders for all the suspects, Turkish media said.
While the HDP argued that the murder of the Dedeoğlu family was a result of an apparent racist attack fueled by the AKP’s hate speech targeting Kurds, the ruling party denied racism as the motive and argued that the attack took place due to personal animosity between two families.
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu late on Friday told reporters that the attack was caused by a chronic animosity between two families, considering it a “provocation” to label the attack as a racist crime. “There is no connection between this attack and the Turkish-Kurdish issue. Saying that there’s a link between these two matters is as dangerous as the attack,” he added.
Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül also underlined in a statement that there was no indication that the attack was carried out with racist or ideological motives.
A series of attacks, alleged to be hate crimes against Kurds, took place in Turkey earlier in July.
A group of Kurdish seasonal workers from Diyarbakır and Mardin were beaten and sustained minor injuries in Afyon, after two of them were called “terrorists” for speaking Kurdish while waiting for a haircut in front of a barbershop, on July 19, according to the Mezopotamya news agency.
In a separate incident Hakim Dal, a 43-year-old Kurdish man from Diyarbakır, died on July 21 after a group of 60 people attacked his family in a village in Konya. Dal’s brother Hamdi Dal told Mezopotamya that they were attacked because they were Kurds and that they had been threatened by other villagers several times in the past.