Who controls the masked men — the ‘Esedullah team’ — now terrorizing Kurds in southeast Turkey?

Orhan Kemal Cengiz writes: Neighborhoods have been completely destroyed, and the media have carried images reminiscent of war zones, with walls torn down and houses riddled with bullets and mortar shrapnel.

Judging by the extent of the destruction and bloodshed, one could conclude the Turkish state has reverted to its familiar, heavy-handed style of “problem resolution.” Yet, some images captured by the media and witness accounts point to a new, alarming element unseen in the country so far. In the town of Idil in Sirnak province, for instance, special operations police forces, clad in black and wearing balaclavas, were filmed celebrating a “successful” operation by firing in the air and chanting “Allahu akbar” (God is great). Police and soldiers fighting in the Kurdish areas are known to be using nationalist slogans and symbols, but the use of religious ones is unprecedented.

Moreover, grisly graffiti with racist, militarist and misogynic messages have appeared on the walls in neighborhoods placed under curfew for security operations. A new term has emerged: “Esedullah team” (team of Allah’s lions), which has been inscribed on the walls as a signature, with variations including “the Esedullah team is here” or “the Esedullah team has arrived.” [Continue reading…]

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