Turkish Police Teargas Kurdish Families Enjoying Bayram in the Park

By Amy L. Beam, Ed.D:

Ramadan, the 30-day Muslim fasting, ended on July 28 and was followed by Bayram, a three-day holiday of family visiting, festivities, and eating.  Bayram holiday in the Muslim world is like Christmas in Christian countries.  All work stops.  Driving throughout southeast Turkey from Sirnak the roads are nearly void of all traffic . . . including trucks, buses, and cars . . . as everyone is home for the holidays with their families.

On July 29, police in Cizre in southeast Turkey tear gassed families enjoying their Bayram picnics and rides in the park.  My friend and I came upon the scene while driving through Cizre at 6:20 PM (18:20) when people were washing their eyes out and still covering their faces with their shirts and scarves.  Gas hung heavy in the air. Most of the stragglers remaining in the park were children around age 10 and food vendors salvaging  their carts.

Bayram park

Bayram 2

Bayram 3

We continued driving to Silopi, the next town, for a Bayram meal with friends in their detached home in a quiet residential neighborhood.   When we went out the door to leave at 9 PM (21:00), we had to beat a hasty retreat back into the house with our eyes watering.  The neighborhood was enveloped with tear gas as if the police had been fogging a neighborhood in a mangrove swamp to kill mosquitoes.  We had not heard a sound of any disturbance while we sat inside enjoying dinner.   Certainly, there had been no gathering of people in this out-of-the way Silopi neighborhood or as we drove through the center of town.

What could have caused police to tear gas families with children in both Cizre and Silopi?  It’s a mystery, since Turkey is not at war, unlike its neighbors to the south, Iraq and Syria.

Happy Bayram, indeed.

Amy L. Beam promotes tourism to eastern Turkey at Mount Ararat Trek (http://www.mountararattrek.com) and writes occasionally on Kurdish issues.  Follow her on twitter @amybeam

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