Back in October, 34 refugees and eight members of the PKK crossed into Turkey at the Habur gate. The group came from Mexmur refugee camp and also from the Qendil mountains. At the time, Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan said, ‘Is it possible not to be hopeful when you look at the pictures from Habur border crossing? Good things are happening in Turkey. This is hope.’ It was the beginning of hope.
Now two members of that Peace Caravan group have been arrested. Gülbahar Çiçekçi (far right in photo) was en route to Ankara with another returnee, Şerif Gençdal, when she was stopped by officials checking her identification in Diyarbakır yesterday. She was then taken to Diyarbakır Police Department’s anti-terror division pending a Monday court appearance in the province.
Today Turkish authorities also arrested Nurettin Turgut (second from left in photo, wearing blue jacket). Turgut was stopped at the Van airport and subsequently transferred to the police station.
Both are charged for delivering pro-Kurdish speeches, delivered in the Doğubayazıt district of Ağrı.
These arrests come on the heels of a wave of arrests in the past month of Kurdish politicians, lawyers, and human rights activists. Also today, 18 Kurdish students were arrested at Van’s Yüzüncü Yıl University for alleged PKK activities.
Can there still be hope? The message from Ankara seems to preclude it.
Two PKK returnees held over speech in Turkey. Hürriyet Daily News, 11 January 2010.
PKK member arrested for speech. UPI, 11 January 2010.