Kurdish football team Amedspor will make a complaint to the Türkiye Football Federation and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) over a series of racist attacks by Turkish football supporters this week. Amedspor comes from the city of Diyarbakır (known as Amed in Kurdish), in Southeast Turkey.
On 4 March, fans of rival team Bursaspor – from the city of Bursa in Southwest Turkey – gathered outside the Kurdish team’s hotel and shouted racially motivated insults. Throughout the match between the two teams on 5 March, Busaspor fans hurled missiles, firecrackers – and even a knife – at the Amedspor players, and displayed racist banners.
Despite all this, the referees chose not to postpone the game.
Letter from Left-wing fan clubs
13 clubs representing left-wing football fans across Turkey wrote an open letter about the incident. They said:
As fans who are searched for before the match, we know very well that it is not possible to bring even a plastic bottle into the stadium, let alone explosives and injurious and dangerous substances.
To view what happened as the incompetence of a few officials and making a statement that ‘we have punished those who did not fulfill their duties’ is to cover up the incident.
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The fans pointed out that the banners were explicitly anti-Kurdish:
Similarly, the banners opened in the stands are checked by the police every week and if found ‘appropriate’, they are allowed inside. It is a fascist threat to show the banners of a white Taurus and a hitman, symbolizing the unsolved murders committed in the ’90s, and to turn a blind eye to that.
The ‘white Taurus’ (or Toros) was the Renault car that became associated with JİTEM (Gendarmerie Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism). JİTEM used the vehicles in the 1990s to abduct and murder people.
‘Amedspor is not alone’
The Amed Bar Association made a statement in support of Amedspor. Association president Nahit Eren told a press conference:
We are aware of the message that is meant to be conveyed by the display of these symbols, which with all their darkness are embedded in the memory of Kurdish society, during a football match. These threats are meant to create an atmosphere of fear.
Nahit pointed out that, in the wake of the earthquake, Amedspor is a source of pride and inspiration in the city:
Amedspor inspires people in our city and in many parts of the country with its success and sportsmanship.
However, he said that this pride isn’t shared by the Turkish authorities:
Unfortunately, this feeling created by Amedspor is not resonating and supported by the authorities, especially in our city, and Amedspor’s already limited opportunities are being restricted, with penalties and exclusion being imposed. We cannot say that the events of the last two days are independent of this attitude of the public authorities towards Amedspor. However, everyone should know that Amedspor is not alone and that the entire institutional dynamics of our city and its supporters across the country will continue to support the team.
Not the first time
This is by no means the first time that Amedspor has borne the brunt of racist attacks. In fact, the Boycott Turkey campaign wrote in January:
Amedspor members and fans are not only targeted at home, but also by assassination attempts and attacks from far-right fans across the country. The team’s treatment by the state and the nationalist right-wing reflects the attitude towards Kurdish people and liberatory politics as a whole.
The Canary reported in January 2023 that:
One local player has received a lifetime ban from competing for expressing his political beliefs. While the Turkish military’s brutal repression against cities in Bakur was still ongoing in 2016, former Amedspor midfielder Deniz Naki received a 12-match ban for dedicating the team’s win against Bursaspor to the people who had been killed by Turkish state forces. He also had to pay a fine, and received a suspended prison sentence. He later received a lifetime ban for views he expressed on social media.
An atmosphere of intimidation
It’s clear that Amedspor is being targeted by both the Turkish state and the far-right, and that the displaying of banners alluding to the massacres of the 1990s was intended to create an atmosphere of intimidation and fear.
This attack is doubly shocking in the wake of Turkey’s devastating earthquake, which has caused disaster in Turkey’s Southeast. But what’s also clear is that Amedspor and their supporters refuse to be intimidated.
You can read more about the attacks on Amedspor here.
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