What Happened in Suruc?
The incidents in Suruc first appeared in the media on June 14, portrayed as an armed assault between a Member of the Parliament from AKP and his family, and PKK-affiliated shopkeepers that resulted in multiple shootings leaving 3 people dead and many injured.
TV stations close to the government initially reported that there was one martyr and two terrorists dead, the martyr being the MP’s brother. Shortly thereafter, CHP’s Head of Suruc Province, Servet Goren began telling a different side of the story:
Urfa MP Ibrahim Halil Yildiz had been visiting local shopkeeper Esvet Senyasar for the last few days as part of his election campaign. Discouraged by Mr. Senyasar’s dismissal of him, Mr. Yildiz and his cronies assaulted the family which ended in bloodbath. Mr. Yildiz, who was shooed away from the store the day before, apparently returned the following day with a group of people, and the war of words quickly escalated to armed assault. MP Yildiz’s brother, along with two of Mr. Senyasar’s sons were killed in the brawl. Esvet Senyasar, who was not at the shop at the time of the incident, went to the hospital upon learning the news, where he was lynched by members of Ibrahim Halil Yildiz’s family. His wife, Emine Senyasar, recalled the events like this:
“People were already warning me not to go to the store, saying ‘They have already killed your sons, they will kill you, too’. I saw my husband on the way. He had no idea what was going on, so I told him what happened. We went to the store, but we weren’t let in by the police. Then, the ambulance arrived. They took a body out of the store and put it in the ambulance. We went to the hospital in a pick-up truck. As soon as we arrived at the hospital, we were surrounded by 20 plus men. They started hitting my husband with iron bars detached from the stretcher. He was drenched in blood. I tried to intervene, and pleaded with the people around, but no one helped us. The police officers actually walked away and went outside, so I went beside them and asked an officer to do something about it. Her did not move or even talk to me. They lynched my husband first, then put a bullet through his head. I would certainly recognize the man who shot my husband. I must have lost consciousness at that point, one of my children’s friends came over and took me outside. I don’t remember how I went back home, but I did see him getting lynched.”
While all this was taking place, the Minister of Interrior Affairs, Suleyman Soylu, kept insisting that the incident was ignited by the PKK, and the person responsible for it was the presidential candidate Muharrem Ince. According to Mr. Soylu, Mr. Ince, by visiting Selahattin Demirtas, the imprisoned head of People’s Democratic Party (HDP) had legitimized the PKK. He said that he had seen the video footage, and it was the shopkeeper who had attacked the MP who was only there to campaign.
But CHP was not alone in refuting the government’s account of the incident. Dr. Huseyin Seyhanlioglu, a parliamentary candidate from the AKP itself likened the scene to Roboski saying:
“What happened here is a candidate from AKP visiting the dollar-store in question 3 days before the shooting. The shop owner tells him that he supports HDP, and he doesn’t want to get involved in politics and asks the candidate not to come here again. On the day of the shooting, Mr. Yildiz arrives at the store with 50 people next to him, as well as his brother -who is a known usurer, and screams obscenities to the people inside the store. Mr. Senyasar asks them to leave the store, at which point the argument gets heated and weapons are drawn. Mr. Yildiz’s brothers start shooting around. The shopkeeper and his son are injured. His niece, who witnessed the shooting picks up a pump rifle and shoots the usurer brother. Yildiz’s men lacerate the shopkeeper and his son at the hospital by hitting them on the head with oxygen tanks. But they don’t stop there. They take out the security cameras and drive the police officers out. Then, they lynch the father and his two sons to death. These were 3 people on their Ramadan fast, members of a poor family. Here is what I have to say about the incident:
- The victims have nothing to do with the PKK
- Yildiz, the known usurer, is the main culprit here
- The state has failed to protect its citizens
- The president was misinformed
- This incident is reminiscent of Roboski
- We must accept guilt when we are guilty
- It is not AKP’s duty to clean up after cruel usurers
- The case must be closed and explained to the public before the elections
- The incident will cause indignation and loss of voter confidence for the AKP in Urfa.
The only thing I can do is plead.”
Mr. Ibrahim Halil Yildiz’s family is famous for their usury in the region. There are videos of him during the April 16 referendum going into the villages around Urfa with guns, and forcibly pushing people to vote YES.
Video footage of this recent incident completely disproves Minister Soylu. It shows member of Yildiz’s family shooting at people at close range. We also have the autopsy reports which indicate that Mr. Esvet Senyasar, the father and the shop owner, suffered from 7 deadly blows to vital organs with sharp objects as well as 23 further blows around his body. Celal Senyasar, one of the sons, had 17 bullet wounds as well as 14 points of battery with sharp objects. Fadil Senyasar, the other son, was wounded and he was immediately detained and is currently in prison. All the while, no member of Yildiz’s family are either detained or arrested.
Security cameras from the hospital were destroyed, and security personnel along with the police officers at the scene were ushered away. 7 doctors and nurses from the hospital have resigned citing trauma and lack of security.
What seems to have happened is the government inciting an atmosphere of insecurity and chaos, like they are prone to do just before elections. But this time, this tactic seems to have faced a backlash. All political parties have sent representatives to the scene of the incident and they have all come back with reports testifying to the fact that it was Mr. Yildiz and his men that instigated the episode. Even president Erdogan had to walk back on his words after the video footage was made public, and he has vowed to catch those that are responsible.
What happened clearly was the government playing deep into the hearts of this nation whose DNA is now deeply rooted in anti-Kurdish and anti-PKK sentiment, in order to create a schism between the powers of opposition. Thankfully, this ill-conceived plot was defeated and hopefully, they now understand that such efforts will not bear a “strange fruit” anymore.