Posted on September 10, 2016 by Editorial Staff in Kurdistan, Politics
Kurdish teachers protest in Diyarbakir, Turkish Kurdistan. Photo: Reuters
ANKARA,— Turkey’s interior minister says the government will take over the running of 28 municipalities, ousting elected Kurdish mayors accused of links to Kurdish rebels.
Suleyman Soylu’s announcement Friday came a day after the education ministry suspended 11,285 teachers, over suspicions they may be linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.
Soylu said 28 municipalities would no longer be run “under the orders of Qandil” — a reference to Iraqi Kurdistan’s Qandil mountain where the PKK’s leadership is based. He said the takeover would take place within 15 days.
Turkish police detained dozens of people and used water cannon on Friday to disperse several hundred Kurdish teachers demonstrating against their suspension from classrooms in the main Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in Turkish Kurdistan, union sources said and TV footage showed.
Demonstrations have been banned across Diyarbakir province since mid-August during the state of emergency declared after the failed coup. On Friday, the Diyarbakir governor’s office also imposed a curfew in more than a dozen neighbourhoods across three districts, as security operations were planned against Kurdish militants in the region.
The move comes after Turkey declared a state of emergency following a July 15 coup attempt and suspended tens of thousands of people from government jobs over suspected links to a U.S.-based cleric accused of masterminding the coup.
The PKK, which has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state, is listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
The PKK took up arms in 1984 against the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to push for greater autonomy for the Kurdish minority who make up around 22.5 million of the country’s 78-million population. A large Turkey’s Kurdish community openly sympathise with PKK rebels.
Since July 2015, Turkey initiated a controversial military campaign against the PKK in the country’s southeastern Kurdish region after Ankara ended a two-year ceasefire agreement. Since the beginning of the campaign, Ankara has imposed several round-the-clock curfews, preventing civilians from fleeing regions where the military operations are being conducted.
Observers say the crackdown has taken a heavy toll on the Kurdish civilian population and accuse Turkey of using collective punishment against the minority.
Activists have accused the security forces of causing huge destruction to urban centres and killing Kurdish civilians.
Pro-Kurdish opposition political parties say about 1,000 civilians, mostly Kurds, have perished in the fighting, since the Turkish offensive against the PKK centred in towns and cities in Turkish Kurdistan.