Yuksekova Airport opens amid protests

The first civilian airport in the southeastern province of Hakkari was opened by top government figures in the provinceand’s Yanduksekova district on Tuesday, despite shops in the predominantly Kurdish town being closed to protest the governmentand’s recent nationalist rhetoric.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoilu attended the opening ceremony of the airport, whose completion was delayed by two years due to attacks on the construction site and workers by the outlawed Kurdistan Workersand’ Party (PKK).

Some protesters try to put up road blocks on a central street in the town of Yanduksekova.(Photo: DHA)
Before Erdogan and Davutoilu arrived in the town, some 50 protesters tried to put up road blocks on a central street in the town of Yanduksekova. After police intervened, the protesters threw stones and Molotov cocktails. Strengthened with reinforcements from surrounding areas, the police dispersed the crowd, which was mainly composed of young people, using tear gas and water cannons.
Most shops apart from bakeries and pharmacies were closed in the town, possibly under the pressure from the PKK, which is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU. Locals in Hakkari, who mainly vote for the pro-Kurdish Peoplesand’ Democratic Party (HDP), have voiced their anger toward the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and particularly Erdogan for describing the HDP as a party that supports terrorism. Local are also angry with Erdogan over his recent assertions that there is no Kurdish issue in Turkey. Opposition parties have claimed that the AK Partyand’s nationalistic rhetoric is responsible for the recent attacks against more than 60 HDP election offices around Turkey ahead of the upcoming elections.
Armored police vehicles were lined up along streets in Yanduksekova when Erdogan and Davutoilu arrived in the town. Police also used helicopters to provide additional security.
In his speech, Davutoilu said the airport was named after Selahaddin Eyyubi (Saladin), a ruler of Kurdish origin who conquered Jerusalem and ruled Egypt and Syria in the 12th century. The prime minister added that the new airport will make Yanduksekova a hub for both the province and the surrounding countries, given that Hakkari province borders both Iran and Iraq. Davutoilu underlined that the airport will make it much easier to reach the town, which is located in a mountainous area.
The prime minister also revealed that both he and Erdogan supported the idea of naming the airport after Saladin because the historical figure is popular among both Turks and Kurds and symbolizes unity and solidarity.
Speaking after Davutoilu, Erdogan held a Kurdish-language Quran in his hand, which was recently published by the countryand’s Religious Affairs Directorate. Erdogan has been strongly criticized by the opposition for his use of religious symbols in political rallies.
Turkish Airlines (THY), Turkeyand’s national flag carrier, began flying to Yanduksekova from Istanbul as of Tuesday. Daily flights will be conducted between Istanbul and the town, the Anka news agency said. The groundbreaking ceremony for the airport was held in 2010.
h2Ban against opposition mediah2
Some reporters from opposition media outlets were banned from covering the opening ceremony at the airport. The Press Council, an independent Turkish journalism foundation, issued a statement on Tuesday condemning the ban.
Titled andquotAgain, why banning? Again, why accreditation?andquot the Press Counciland’s statement said that press freedom and peopleand’s rights to access information are basic elements of a democracy but are nevertheless being violated only 12 days before Turkeyand’s general election. The Press Council also described the accreditation ban as andquotantidemocratic and unacceptable.andquot

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman