An article and photo published by the New York Times has drawn a strong reaction from Turkish social media users, since it depicts the damage caused by the PKK attacks as the work of Turkish military forces. The article also associated all Kurdish people with the PKK terrorist organization, asserting that "Nearly every family in Kurdistan" has ties to the PKK.
In the article by Rod Nordland published on Dec. 24 with the title "An Aleppo-like Landscape in a Kurdish Redoubt of Turkey," the newspaper used a photo of a ravaged building that was captured after the PKK attack in the Bağlar district of Diyarbakır. The attack caused the death of two police officers and 11 civilians. However, the newspaper refrained to say that the building was damaged by the PKK in the caption, instead reading: "a damaged apartment building after an explosion in November."
The director of the Human Rights Watch (HRW), Kenneth Roth, tweeted the link of the article with the same photo, and said "No, it's not Aleppo. This is what Erdogan's Turkey has done to the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir (and other towns)."
After a huge reaction came from Turkish social media users, who pointed out to readers that the image is of a PKK attack that hit civilians in the Kurdish-populated Diyarbakır and not of "Turkey's war against Kurds." Roth then deleted his tweet without an explanation, though the New York Times persisted to use the photo as "proof" of "An Aleppo-like Landscape."
Speaking on the issue, Turkish journalist Cem Küçük, who has before argued with the newspaper following misleading citations of his words in an interview by the New York Times, told Daily Sabah that it was just typical manipulation made by the newspaper, who is trying to put Turkey into a tough situation over the "Kurdish card." "Since we started to move together with Russia in the Syrian crisis and cut down the ‘living space' of the PKK's Syrian offshoot, Democratic Union Party (PYD) terrorists - who are allies of the U.S. in the region - they are trying to give support to them this way. Turkey's intention to head toward the PYD-held Manbij after clearing al-Bab from Daesh frightens them greatly, and causes them to make these kinds of manipulations, to suggest that Turkey ‘persecutes' Kurdish people."
Küçük said The New York Times did the same thing to him by distorting his words, "Cumhuriyet newspaper founded by Atatürk and should be given back to Kemalists from Gülenist," taking them to mean that "The newspaper should be taken over by the government."
"The journalists of New York Times are always working in contact with U.S. intelligence and act in their interests."
The article also went so far as to associate every family living in southeastern Turkey with the PKK, asserting that "Nearly every family in Kurdistan has someone up there [PKK camps], or knows someone, or has had someone come back down, to be buried."
In late August, the co-mayors of the district of Sur, Seyit Narin and Fatma Şık Barut, were arrested in an anti-terror probe. Also, in early November, Diyarbakır mayor Gültan Kışanak was arrested and discharged from her post by the Interior Ministry. A trustee was appointed for both the district of Sur and Diyarbakır city municipality. The PKK called for an uprising in protest against the arrest and subsequent appointments. The people of Diyarbakır, however, did not respond.
On Dec. 2, an operation was launched in Sur to put an end to the PKK's hegemony in the streets. The 103-day-long operation ended on March 10, eliminating the terrorist group from the district.