These were the scenes in Turkey as Erdoğan’s wife got a ‘humanitarian’ award in London

Injured HDP MP in Amed
Emily Apple

On 17 April, the wife of Turkish president and alleged war criminal Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received a “changemaker” award at the World Humanitarian Forum (WHF) in London.

Emine Erdoğan was given the award for her “key role in helping women and refugees, especially offering shelter to over 3.5 million who had to flee Syria”. And while her work must be seen separately from whatever her husband does, she apparently accepted the award:

on behalf of the generous Turkish people, whose hearts ache with a crying child, who see strangers as guests from God.

So it’s a shame her heart wasn’t aching when Turkish police fired water cannon and tear gas at elected politicians in Amed (Diyarbakır) on the same day.

WHF: not so humanitarian

To be fair, it seems the WHF itself is not so humanitarian. Because alleged war criminal Tony Blair is one of the speakers. And former foreign secretary Jack Straw reportedly led the awards panel:

The Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign also highlighted exactly why awarding Erdoğan the award is so problematic:

Meanwhile in Amed

While Turkey’s heavily pro-Erdoğan press (the result of severe media repression) was lapping up this story, police were on the offensive in Amed.

Despite winning the local elections in many Kurdish-majority areas in southeastern Turkey, some left-wing HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) mayors have not been allowed to take office. People gathered in Amed to protest this decision. And they were met with tear gas and water canons:

HDP MP Remziye Tosun, meanwhile, was injured and hospitalised after being hit by a water cannon:

Even if Emine Erdoğan had undertaken the most amazing humanitarian work the world had ever seen, the reality is that this award legitimises the actions of the Turkish state. And there is nothing humanitarian about the way the Turkish state treats its Kurdish communities.

But then again, humanitarian is hardly a word any of us would associate with Blair and Straw in the first place.

Featured image via screengrab

Get involved

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us