29 July 2013 /TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL – A group, believed to be members of so-called “public order units” set up by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)-affiliated Patriotic Revolutionist Youth Movement (YDG-H) threw Molotov cocktails at a youth center inside a mosque on Sunday evening in the southeastern city of Şırnak.
The attack took place on Sunday evening at the Sefine Youth Center, which offers free education to students inside Külliye Mosque, located in the Yeni neighborhood. No one was killed or injured, as the center was empty when the attack was staged. The perpetrators have not yet been identified, but they are believed to have been from the YDG-H’s public order units. The windows and furniture in the youth center were all damaged as a result of the Molotov cocktail attack. The police have launched a large-scale investigation into the incident.
The same youth center had been the target of another Molotov cocktail attack by unidentified perpetrators three months ago.
Dershanes and schools have become frequent targets of the PKK in the East, as the terrorist group sees these educational institutions as a threat. Young people prefer to go to universities instead of the mountains to join the PKK. A girl in Silopi, a town to the south of Şırnak, came in first place in the country in the Level Determination Examination (SBS), a standardized test that students are required to take before they enter high school. More students in the East have scored very well in the national exams in recent years.
‘Public order units’ clash with police in Cizre
In a related incident, a group of masked people calling themselves “public order units” attempted to check the IDs of drivers driving down roads and attacked police with dozens of Molotov cocktails and other explosives on Sunday night in Cizre, a town southwest of Şırnak.
The public order units gathered in the Cudi and Nur neighborhoods of Cizre to protest the cell conditions of the PKK’s imprisoned leader, Abdullah Öcalan, who the protesters say has poor conditions in his cell on the prison island of İmralı in the Sea of Marmara. Öcalan is serving a life sentence in İmralı Prison.This group of YDG-H’s public order units, whose faces were masked, attempted to check the IDs of drivers on İdil Street in Cizre. The police intervened with tear gas and pressurized water, but the public order units attacked the police with Molotov cocktails, firecrackers and stones.
The tension in the district lasted until the pre-dawn hours. The Bugün daily reported on Monday that the public order units used 91 hand-made explosives and 125 Molotov cocktails against the police during the clashes in Cizre on Sunday night.The police detained a 17-year-old YDG-H member, A.Ö., as he was throwing Molotov cocktails. A.Ö. is still being questioned at the local police station.The police have taken strict security measures around dershanes, which offer weekend and evening courses geared toward preparing students for national exams, the governor’s office, reading halls — facilities offering free education and training to disadvantaged and undereducated children — and dormitories in Cizre against any possible attacks by the public order units. The police protect the buildings around the clock.
The PKK public order units first appeared in the media in June with the dissemination of a video showing a group of masked persons in Cizre.The video showed a military ceremony held by YDG-H members in which terrorists chosen to serve in the public order units were awarded diplomas. The YDG-H members’ faces were covered with scarves, and they wore T-shirts emblazoned with a picture of Öcalan as they stood in silent homage to PKK terrorists killed in clashes with the military. They then burned car tires on the Nusaybin and İdil streets in Cizre and checked the IDs of drivers driving down the roads. The video led to a strong public reaction.
6 YDG-H members detained in Cizre, Silopi
Six YDG-H members were detained on Sunday by the police in simultaneous operations in Cizre and Silopi. The police raided nine addresses as part of the operations.
During the raids, the police detained six suspects; one of them was S.E., who was one of the perpetrators of an attack targeting police in Silopi on Thursday night. A police officer, Asır Yıldız, was injured in that attack.Although S.E. was shown as 17 years old, an identification tag given to him by YDG-H showed his age as 19. Therefore, the police ordered a bone test for the accused to confirm his age. The test confirmed S.E. was 19 years old. He will therefore be tried as an adult. According to police reports, S.E. escaped a prison sentence several times as he was tried as a minor. Following this incident, the Şırnak Prosecutor’s Office requested the police to order bone tests for all detained YDG-H members.
Tension in İdil
Tension also erupted in İdil, a town west of Cizre, on Sunday evening when a 500-person group of PKK sympathizers protested Öcalan’s poor prison conditions. The group marched along Adile Naşit Street and staged a sit-in protest. The group carried posters of Öcalan and shouted pro-PKK and pro-Öcalan slogans. The group dispersed after the protest, but a small group, whose faces were masked, threw Molotov cocktails, firecrackers and stones. The police fired tear gas and used pressurized water against the attackers.
A homemade bomb targeting the police exploded in the hands of a 14-year-old attacker during the incident. The injured youth was taken to İdil State Hospital by police officers and detained after his treatment.