Kurdish man stabbed to death in Turkish capital over music dispute

(Updates with statement from state officials and the family)

A Kurdish man named Barış Çakan (20) was stabbed in the heart in Etimesgut neighbourhood in Turkey’s capital Ankara on Sunday night, and died in the hospital he was taken to.

The initial report by the Mezopotamya news agency, published late Sunday night, quoted Çakan’s family as saying the young man had been sitting in a park with his friend when he was targeted because of the Kurdish music they were listening to at the time.

Barış Çakan’s cousin was quoted by the agency as saying that other members of the family had been targeted for listening to Kurdish music before.

The police have since detained three suspects.

A statement by the Ankara Governorate disputed the reports and said the claims aimed to provoke tension.

The incident happened “when the deceased and his friend warned the suspects because they were listening to loud music in a car and disturbing the neighbours during evening prayers, contrary to the claims,” the governorate said.

“(Some people) are hostile to everything about Kurds! This hostility will be what ends you. You are fascists!” Kurdish parliamentarian Remziye Tosun said in a tweet on Sunday, based on the initial reports.

“Are you happy now, Süleyman Soylu?” another Kurdish parliamentarian, Hüseyin Kaçmaz, asked Turkey’s interior minister in a tweet, to which Soylu’s adviser Burak Gültekin responded.

Supporting the governorate’s statement, Gültekin said the fight had broken out over loud music from a car, and had nothing to do with the language of the music.

“Related authorities will press charges against you for openly inciting hatred and animosity,” Gültekin said.

"Those who put forth this claim are provocateurs who have abused this issue for years," Interior Ministry Spokesman İsmail Çataklı said in a statement.

The same cousin, Doğan Çakan, later told left-wing newspaper Evrensel that the young man had been preparing for his evening prayers when a friend called him downstairs, and that the incident had nothing to do with Kurdish music.

“I don’t know why he went. But when they went there, his friend apparently warned some people in a car, for playing loud music. Then the people in the car attacked them,” Doğan Çakan told Evrensel.

Kurds in Turkey, the country’s largest ethnic minority, representing around 20 percent of the population, have for decades been denied basic rights including education in their mother tongue by governments that viewed expressions of Kurdish identity as a threat. Several Turkish citizens have been targeted in hate crimes for speaking Kurdish.