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.

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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

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