Turkish Inaction on ISIS Spurs Destruction of Artifacts

Pro-Kurdish protestors allegedly damaged the Ziya Göklap Museum Photo: Ömer Çelik via Twitter

Kurdish nationalists are alleged to have been involved in the looting and arson of the Ziya Göklap Museum and other cultural sites during widespread unrest throughout Turkey, Conflict Antiquities reports.

Reuters reported that police struggled to contain thousands of pro-kurdish demonstrators angered by the Turkish government’s inaction in the fight against ISIS Jihadists directly across the Syrian border in Kobani. Dozens were killed and injured in clashes on Tuesday night.

In the border city of Diyarbakir, the largest town in the predominantly Kurdish, southeastern region of the country, five people were killed. Looters and arsonists allegedly affiliated with the Kurdish protestors targeted symbols of Turkish nationalism, allegedly setting fire to the Ziya Göklap Museum. The museum is located in the birth house of Göklap, a Kurd who sought to unite the minority group with Turkey.

The Turkish Minister of Culture and Tourism Ömer Çelik wrote in a in a series of tweets translated by Conflict Antiquities: “The museum building has been completely destroyed, approximately 20 artifacts have been found stolen from the museum store, many books have been burned.”

In other portions of the city, statues of Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, were smashed and badly damaged.

Cengizhan Başaran, the Director of Culture and Tourism in Siirt Province, said “Our library was set on fire in unpermitted protests…nothing remained, our computers, our chairs and tables burned.”

Kurdish groups have since insisted that protestors were not behind the destruction and arson within Diyarbakir, and have accused the Turkish government of orchestrating the arson to discredit the Kurdish minority. They point to the government’s uncharacteristically swift condemnation of the violence as evidence. However, it is too soon to verify either side’s claims.

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