Nine tourists from northern Iraq were attacked by residents of Turkey’s north-eastern province of Trabzon while having their photo taken with scarves on which the word Kurdistan is written, Gazete Duvar news portal reported on Thursday.
In the footage of the incident released on Turkish media, a number of residents from Trabzon are seen attacking the tourists in an attempt at lynching them while they were taking photos with the scarves.
The PKK is regarded as a terrorist organization by the Turkish government, the United States and the European Union.
More than 40,000 people have been killed since the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group, started its campaign for self-rule in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish-populated southeast in 1984.
Although she is not seen in the footage a woman is heard swearing at the tourists while they were being attacked in the video.
The police then reportedly intervened to calm down the group and detained the tourists.
A statement released by the Trabzon governor’s office on the incident said that the nine tourists, who were from a group of 50 people who came to the city’s Uzungol tourist resort, were detained for being involved in a fight with locals.
The office added in the statement that the tourists will be deported to northern Iraq, run by the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government after giving their testimonies.
Jotiar Adil, the spokesperson of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), read a statement by the KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and said that he has tasked KRG’s relevant authorities to intervene with their Turkish counterparts to secure the tourists’ immediate release.
“The flag of the Kurdistan Region is recognized by the Iraqi Constitution, and has been previously displayed at Turkish airports to welcome official delegates from the Kurdistan Region,” the spokesperson added.
All nine tourists were freed early on Friday.
Mustafa Yeneroglu, a lawmaker from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), commented on the incident on social media.
“In the face of illegal activities like this, the public has to react with a strong-will and take a firm stand against it,” the MP emphasized.
In modern Turkey, where the Kurdish language and identity rights have been outlawed from time to time, the existence of a place named Kurdistan has historically been a highly contentious issue.