Opposition candidate for Istanbul mayoral rerun, Ekrem Imamoglu, has promised unity in Turkey after a Kurdish airport worker committed suicide citing social exclusion due to ethnic roots, Gazete Duvar news portal reported on Tuesday.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Imamoglu extended his condolences to the family of Ibrahim Layik, who jumped to his death at the Istanbul Airport on Monday, stressing that the 82 million citizens in Turkey are one and the same.
“The [suicide] news of our brother Ibrahim tore our hearts out. I promise you [Ibrahim], those who unite [people in Turkey] will win, not those who discriminate,” the opposition candidate said, addressing the deceased Kurdish man.
Before committing suicide, Layik reportedly shared a post on his Instagram page announcing that his actions were in protest of discrimination and that he hoped it would change the negative perspective of Kurds in Turkey.
“We have always been discriminated against due to being Kurdish. Maybe what I am going to do will change things. How happy are those who call themselves Kurdish and Turkish,” Layik said, referring to the Republic of Turkey’s motto: “How happy is the one who calls himself/herself a Turk.”
The phrase, first used by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in a speech delivered on the 10th Anniversary of the Republic of Turkey, and then added by the Education Ministry to the Student Oath, which was annulled by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2013.
According to a statement given by pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) Kocaeli deputy Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, the suicide of Layik took place after the woman, he loved told him, “I would never date a person with Kurdish roots.”
Family members of Layik, whose autopsy report is still in progress, suspect that he may have been murdered.