Turkish authorities on Sunday detained 10 people during a wedding in Istanbul’s Esenyurt district for wearing traditional Kurdish scarves in the colors of the Kurdish flag, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing Turkish media.
The groom, Mesut Karçık, and nine guests were detained for wearing yellow, red and green-colored scarves. They were also accused of singing Kurdish folk songs and spreading terrorist propaganda. The detainees were scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.
Yellow, red and green are colors of the Kurdish flag, which was first used in 1920 by people seeking an independent Kurdistan. The Turkish state strongly opposes the flag since sympathizers of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) use it widely.
Moreover, Turkey has prohibited use of the Kurdish language, clothing, folklore and names since 1937. After a military coup in 1980, speaking Kurdish was officially forbidden even in private life.
Hüseyin Boğatekin, the detainees’ lawyer and a member of the Association for the Freedom of Lawyers (ÖHD), said his clients were only expressing their cultural heritage and were not part of any illegal organization.
Boğatekin tweeted on Wednesday that the prosecutor was demanding his clients’ arrest.
Kurds in Turkey are often pressured not to speak their native language. Authorities frequently claim that people speaking in Kurdish are actually chanting slogans in support of the PKK, which has been leading an armed insurgency against Turkey’s security forces since the ’80s in a campaign that has claimed the lives of some 40,000 people.