Kurds protest against wall along Turkey's border with Syria

NUSAYBIN, Turkey Thu Nov 7, 2013 12:27pm EST

1 of 2. Riot police use tear gas to disperse pro-Kurdish demonstrators during a protest in the southeastern Turkish town of Nusaybin, on the Turkish-Syrian border, November 7, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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NUSAYBIN, Turkey (Reuters) - Thousands of Kurds protested on Thursday against Turkish plans to build a wall along the Syrian border, calling it a move to stop Kurdish communities strengthening cross-frontier ties as Syria splinters from civil war.

The rally underscored the sectarian strains spilling over from Syria's war, which grew out of a 2011 uprising against President Bashar al-Assad and has fragmented into a patchwork of antagonistic ethnic and sectarian pockets that risk destabilizing neighboring Middle Eastern countries.

Riot police tolerated the protests, organized by Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), for much of the day but fired tear gas to disperse groups of demonstrators as a sit-down protest began following the main speeches.

Crowds of mostly young men, many waving red, yellow and green Kurdish flags, gathered in the Turkish town of Nusaybin, separated from the Syrian town of Qamishli by a strip of no-man's land and barbed wire fencing.

Officials said last month that Turkey would build a two-meter high wall to stop people bypassing checkpoints and prevent smuggling near Qamishli, where Kurdish fighters, Syrian rebel units and Arab tribes have regularly clashed.

BDP leader Selahattin Demirtas told the crowds that the government had promised to abandon the plans, but said the protests should continue until the border was fully open to trade. He accused Turkey of backing radical Islamists fighting against Kurdish groups in Syria.

"Our protests will continue until government support for these gangs is halted," he said.

Syrian Kurds say they have taken ground from Islamist rebels in Syria's northeast in recent weeks, tightening their grip on an area close to the Turkish border where they have been seeking to establish autonomous rule.

Their assertiveness has posed a quandary for Turkey as it tries to make peace on its own soil with militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought for greater Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades.

Ankara has long championed more robust backing for Syria's fractious armed opposition, but it has denied supporting al Qaeda-linked groups among their ranks such as Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

"It is out of the question that groups like al Nusra and al Qaeda can take shelter in our country," Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said during an official visit to Stockholm on Thursday.


Turkish officials have played down the measures being taken along the border near Nusaybin. Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said earlier this week the intention was simply to lay more barbed wire to tighten security.

Turkey is sheltering around a quarter of the two million people who have fled Syria's two-and-a-half-year-old conflict and has pledged to maintain its open-door policy to refugees.

But the plans raised suspicions among Kurdish communities that the government had a sectarian agenda, something officials in Ankara have been at pains to deny.

"You see how they divide Kurdistan," said Bahattin Ozbek, 46, a BDP mayoral candidate who travelled 200 km (124 miles) from the eastern city of Mus to attend the demonstration.

"We want to unite with our ethnic kin and get rid of this border," he said, pointing to a line of riot police, flanked by water cannon and armored vehicles along the barbed wire fence.

The Syrian conflict has complicated Turkey's efforts to make peace with the PKK, designated a terrorist group by Ankara, the United States and European Union but for the past year engaged in a peace process with the Turkish state.

The border gate on the edge of town is officially closed to trade, although locals are allowed to cross carrying small amounts of tea, cigarettes and fuel. The BDP says ambulances and flour mills destined for Syrian Kurds have been held up on the Turkish side of the border for months.

But smugglers frequently cross through gaps in the barbed wire elsewhere along the border, local residents say.

Construction workers with excavators have begun digging foundations in Nusaybin for the wall, which would span just a fraction of the 900-km (560-mile) border. The barrier is only a temporary security measure, a Turkish government official said.

(Writing by Nick Tattersall)

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Comments (3)
Mylena wrote:
I agreed with bounderies. it is the same thing if you have a house and not fence and everyone is bringing dogs ruining your plants and everything. Sometimes people forget about the property line!!!!! it is very important. it is illegal but until you don’t put a wall a sign telling, hey this is my property they still want to come in.

Nov 07, 2013 11:38am EST  --  Report as abuse
kurdstaat wrote:
Terrorist Turks supported by terrorist NATO has committed genocide and terrorism against Aryan Kurdish nation since the end of WWI.

For 90 years the terrorist Turks have:

1-committed genocide against Aryan Kurds and have killed more than a million Kurds.

2- terrorist Turks have destroyed more than 3000 Kurdish villages, and intentionally displaced millions of Kurds.

3-terrorist Turks have banned public language in Aryan Kurdish language for 25 million living in Occupied Kurd State in Turkey.

4- terrorist Turks have used chemical weapons against PKK and Kurdish civilians. The bombs were supplied by terrorist NATO.

5- terrorist Turks have imprisoned and killed hundreds of thousands of Kurdish elite, intellectuals, politicians, and activists.

6- terrorist Turks don’t recognize the fundamental Kurdish rights of Kurdish nation and have been doing anything in their power to halt Kurdish development in anyway.

7- terrorist Turks have been building damns in occupied Kurd State in Turkey to displace more Kurds living along rivers in Kurdstaan.

8- terrorist Turks have labeled PKK, the protectors of Kurdish nation, as terrorists. Terrorist Turks have received unlimited support from terrorist NATO against PKK.

9-terrorist Turks are have burned hundreds of thousands of acres of forest in Kurdstaan.

10- terrorist Turks have been arming and supporting Sunni Arab terrorists to attack Kurds in Syria.

11-terrorist Turks are now building a wall along the fake border of Turkey-Syria and block any help crossing the border into Kurdstaan in Syria.

PKK is the protectors of Kurdish nation against all foreign attack, harm, terrorism and invasion. PKK members are the heroes of Kurdish nation who volunteer to sacrifice their life for the protection of their nation. PKK is the heart and honor of Kurdish nation. The Kurdish nation supports PKK and PKK supports the Kurdish nation. By labeling PKK as terrorist, NATO is labeling the entire Kurdish nation as terrorist. In fact this name calling by NATO is a crime against the entire Kurdish nation.

Kurdstaan in Syria and Kurdstaan in Turkey are inseparable for Kurds living on both sides of this border imposed by terrorism and ill will of terrorist NATO, occupying terrorist Turks and terrorist Arabs. There is no border in reality. NATO, Turks and Arabs have conquered Kurd State, divided Kurdstaan and impose their terrorism on Kurds.

Kurds have the right to be a majority in their own State instead of being minorities in four States under terrorism of occupying, terrorist Turks and Arabs. Either the world recognizes the Kurdish State or we will make you recognize it by force.

PKK has established autonomy in Kurdstaan in Syria providing protection and peace for Kurds. PKK has established a Kurdish State in Syria and the world must recognize it formally.

Terrorist Turks are afraid of rise of Kurdish nation in Syria, therefore, they are using their terror tactics by arming Al-Qaeda against Kurds.

Terrorist Turks are the remnants of Mongol invasion and they are supported by terrorist NATO against Aryan Kurdish nation.

by the way Nisebin is a Kurdish town in occupied Kurd State in present Turkey. Nesebin is not a Turkish town and the Turks have no right to build a wall in it. People in Nesibin speak Kurdish and have spoken Kurdish before the Europeans entered dark ages. How dare the writer of this article call Nesebin a Turkish town.

We will not stand for NATO’s and Turks’ terrorism against Aryan Kurdish nation.

Stop NATO’s terrorism against Aryan Kurdish nation

Recognize Aryan Kurdish nation and her right to Statehood.

Recognize Kurdstaan.

Nov 07, 2013 3:13pm EST  --  Report as abuse
AKP is a false, corrupt party. You call us terrorists when you are the ones that come and kill our soldiers. Erdoğan is a fool with this “peace plan”. He essentially gives free homes and citizenship’s to arabs and kurds, as long as they give him votes.

Erdoğan’s party has actually made it better for Kurds. Once CHP win, you will see things change.

Turkey is Turkey, we will not give up our land to the Kurds, not now, not ever. I support Atatürk’s party, CHP. I also support Bashar.

Nov 07, 2013 5:56pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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