First Published: 2013-11-05

Separation between Kurds and Kurds: Turkey mayor protests against Syria wall
Ayse Gokkan of pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (BDP says wall will divide Kurdish people and has called it ‘black stain on history.’
Middle East Online

By Fulya Ozerkan – ANKARA

Local tensions

A Kurdish mayor on hunger strike in Turkey to protest the building of a barrier on the border with Syria accused Ankara on Tuesday of putting up a "wall of shame".

Ayse Gokkan of the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (BDP), who has been on hunger strike for seven days, says the wall will divide the Kurdish people and has called it a "black stain on history".

The government has denied it is building a "fully-fledged wall" but local sources said construction began last month in the town of Nusaybin in Turkey's Kurdish-dominated southeast.

The move reflects Ankara's growing fears of a spillover of the Syrian conflict along the 910 kilometre (560 mile) border, they said.

Nusaybin faces the northeastern Syrian town of Qamishli, which has seen clashes between jihadists and Kurdish militants.

But Gokkan, whose town has a large Kurdish population many of whom have relatives on the other side of the border, said the barrier would divide people.

"This is a wall of shame being built in the 21st century," she said, speaking through a press advisor.

Gokkan, who is conducting her hunger strike in an open mine field near the border checkpoint, said it was "unacceptable to build a wall of shame between the Kurdish people.

"Like the Berlin wall, this wall will remain a black stain on the history of mankind," she added.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Monday authorities were only placing barbed wire over an existing structure to enhance security and insisted that a wall was "out of the question".

But local sources said an iron structure had already gone up and was now being filled with concrete.

The construction has fired local tensions -- on Sunday police fired tear gas against protesters who threw stones and Molotov cocktails in the town of Cizre near the Syrian border, injuring three police officers, security sources said.

Once a close ally of Syria, Turkey has cut off ties with the regime in Damascus since Assad's deadly crackdown on popular dissent began in March 2011 and has become one of the most fervent supporters of the Syrian rebellion.

The long Turkish-Syrian border has become increasingly tense and at least a dozen Turks have been killed by stray gunfire from the Syrian side.

Since then, the Turkish military has retaliated in kind for every Syrian shell that has landed on its soil.

Ankara has so far taken in more than 600,000 Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war in its neighbour and has occasionally closed border crossings for security reasons although it has maintained an "open-door" policy since the start of the conflict.

Turkish authorities have seized a large quantity of chemicals from a convoy trying to illegally enter the country from Syria, which "could be transformed into weapons", the army said Sunday.

Gokkan, who is demanding a halt to construction, has not eaten for seven days and is drinking little water, said her advisor, who asked not to be named. She is regularly checked by doctors.

"The mayor is very determined and will not stop the protest unless the project is dropped," said the advisor.

 

Horse-trading begins as Tunisia awaits formation of new government

Jihadists flock to fight on ‘unprecedented scale’

UK court says Libyan Abdul-Hakim Belhaj can sue over rendition

Syria accuses Turkey of ‘flagrant violation of sovereignty’

Global campaign to end female genital mutilation kicks off

US to examine troops exposed to chemicals in Iraq

African Union hits back at Somalia rape claims

New scare in Turkey as ‘suspect packages’ found

‘Insults against Netanyahu’ cause embarrassment to US

Kuwait online activist gets four years in jail for insulting judges

Heavy fighting in South Sudan sparks fears of humanitarian catastrophe

Sweden officially recognises State of Palestine

Egypt jails retired general for damaging national security

Israel closes al-Aqsa mosque to worshipers in rare move

Gaza civil servants receive delayed salaries

After US criticism, Israel vows no concessions to Palestinians

Libya internationally recognised PM opens doors of dialogue with rivals

Huthi rebels seize stronghold of Muslim Brotherhood in central Yemen

Will Nidaa Tounes shun Islamists in Tunisia government formation?

Egypt starts work on buffer zone along border with Gaza

Turkey Sultan unveils new palace: Another break with symbols of secular state

Heavy toll as ‘Islamic State’ fights for control of Syria oil field

Iran President suffers fresh setback with rejection of Science Minister

Nuclear deal or no deal: ‘Red lines’ lay bare internal divisions in Iran

Heavy security in Mogadishu as UN chief meets Somalia president

Fighters from Free Syrian Army leave Turkey to join Kobane battle

Israel denies banning Palestinians sharing buses

Kurd fighters leave northern Iraq base for Syria deployment

Jordan requests UN emergency meeting over Israel settler expansion

Jerusalem Mayor visits Al-Aqsa mosque prompting anger

Tunisia reinforces commitment to democracy with ‘transparent’ elections

Turkey ‘decides’ for Kobane future: No Kurds, no Assad... Only Free Syrian Army!

Bahrain suspends Al-Wefaq weeks before parliamentary elections

Huge game changer in Tunisia: ‘In-credible’ failure of Islamist Ennahda Party

Libya PM in Khartoum for talks with Bashir

PKK hijack truck seizing explosive substance

Saudi lawyers get jail time for offensive tweets

Ennahda concedes defeat in Tunisia parliamentary elections

Syria rebels launch assault on regime-held city of Idlib

Iraq peshmerga wait for Turkey stance to depart for Syria

Sisi enacts military trials decree to cover ‘existential threat’

US calls for online war against ‘Islamic State’

Donors pledge $8 billion for Horn of Africa

Acid attacks in Iran: Deputy of Judiciary Chief to lead investigation

Lebanon army enters Islamist stronghold in Tripoli