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Turkish forces desecrate graves in Hasankeyf

TURKISH forces have desecrated Kurdish graves and destroyed the Sheikh Ibrahim mausoleum in Hasankeyf, an ancient city in the Batman province of Turkey’s largely Kurdish south-east.

Armoured vehicles moved into a graveyard in the village of Gunseli on Monday and smashed up tombstones previously badly damaged by government troops. In a deliberately provocative act, soldiers hung the Turkish flag from trees in the graveyard where hundreds of Kurdish bodies are buried.

Their destruction of the Sheikh Ibrahim mausoleum deprived the region of one of its holiest sites. It was the latest in a series of sickening attacks on Kurdish and Alevi graves and holy sites over the past few months as the Turkish state escalates hostilities.

Earlier this month, the dead body of Grup Yorum bass player Ibrahim Gokcek was removed by police from an Alevi religious centre in the Gazi district of Istanbul to prevent a funeral service from taking place.

Mr Gokcek’s remains were taken on a 12-hour drive to Kayseri in central Anatolia, where fascists from the Grey Wolves group pledged to dig up the revolutionary’s grave and burn his body, encouraged by members of government coalition partners the Nationalist Movement Party.

Last week, the Morning Star reported the grim discovery of hundreds of Kurdish bodies buried underneath a pavement in the seaside village of Kilyos, on the outskirts of Istanbul.

They had been removed from a cemetery in Bitlis province after it was destroyed by the Turkish state in 2017 following the collapse of peace talks between the government and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The 12,000-year-old city of Hasankeyf, which stands on the banks of the river Tigris, has been the subject of international protests after the Turkish state began flooding it as part of its much criticised Illisu dam project.

The destruction is seen as an extension of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s cultural genocide against the Kurds. Comparisons have been made with Isis’s destruction of Islamic cultural sites and the “historical massacre” of statues and buildings in Syrian’s ancient city of Palmyra.

The flooding of Hasankeyf will displace about 80,000 people from the area, according to the local authorities.

The most recent outrage comes amid rumours that Mr Erdogan is set to call a snap election for August, when lockdown restrictions to limit the spread of Covid-19 are expected to have ended.

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