ISTANBUL – The Turkish football club Diyarbakirspor, from the Kurdish southeast of Turkey, has withdrawn from the Turkish foot ball competition, after the club was once again deluged with anti-Kurdish slogans at an away-from-home game. Anti-Kurdish sentiments have been on the rise since the Turkish government took the initiative this summer to solve the problems with the Kurdish minority.
The governing AKP party wants to grant the Kurds more rights and thus try to end the 25 year fight between the Turkish army and the Kurdish separatist movement PKK. The resistance of the Turkish people against the ‘Kurdish initiative’ flared up especially after two weeks ago the PKK declared its support for the initiative. A handful of PKK fighters turned themselves in to the Turkish authorities, but were released immediately again under the terms of an amnesty law.
Ever since then there has been trouble. Football supporters express their discontent, but so do retired military personnel and relatives of soldiers who died in the fight against the PKK. They feel betrayed. Members of two ultra nationalist parties have announced they are willing to take up arms if the government doesn’t give up on the Kurdish initiative. The AKP is losing support: a poll showed that they would only get 30 percent of the votes now, whereas they won the elections in 2007 with 42% of the votes.
Diyarbakirspor is directly linked to the PKK by supporters of other teams, and from the tribunes they call on Kurds to leave the country. Several weeks ago, players and supporters of Diyarbakirspor were pelted with plastic stadium chairs. The management of the club says in a statement issued this weekend that the fines imposed on the offending clubs are not sufficient to deal with the problem.