While the news of the Van earthquake quickly swallowed up reports about the most recent violence along the border of Southeastern Turkey, it must also be followed and understood as the whole world watches the rescue and recovery efforts in Van. Just days before the earthquake in Southeastern Turkey, Kurdish militants attacked and killed Turkish soldiers along the Southeastern border with Iraq. In response, the Turkish military retaliated and entered Northern Iraq.
On October 19th, a PKK-initiated attack resulted in the deaths of 24 Turkish soldiers, stationed at various border posts in Southeast Turkey. This attack occurred one day after a roadside bomb led to the deaths of five policemen and three civilians, including a 2-year-old girl in the Bitlis province.
Following this attack, 10,000 Turkish soldiers were sent to Southeastern Turkey, and across the border to Iraq. This military offensive resulted in the deaths of 49 Kurdish soldiers on the Turkish side of the border.
This is one of the deadliest attacks on Turkish security forces since the conflict began in the 1980s. This conflict has resulted in the deaths of 40,000 people since 1984. Tension is high, and the entire nation is waiting to see what the next move of the Turkish military will be.
We were walking back to our apartment on Sunday afternoon, and stumbled upon a march against the violence of the Kurdish militants. The chants could be heard blocks away. The main road was blocked. Over 50 police officers lined the street. Shopkeepers closed their stores, and numerous people came to observe. I captured some of the march, and wanted to share it with everyone…