Posted on October 26, 2016 by Editorial Staff in Kurdistan, Politics
Turkish police fire tear gas on Kurdish protesters. Photo: AFP
DIYARBAKIR-AMED, Turkey’s Kurdish region,— Turkish police clashed with Kurdish protesters in Diyarbakir on Wednesday, using tear gas and water cannon to prevent them demonstrating against the detention of the Kurdish city’s co-mayors.
Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli were taken into custody on Tuesday night in a surprise move against the leaders of a city which has been hit by the renewed fighting between Turkish security forces and members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The two were detained as part of a “terrorism” probe, security officials said. The Diyarbakir prosecutor said in a statement that Kisanak and Anli were accused of having links to the PKK and “inciting violence”.
Hundreds of protesters tried to march to the town hall in Diyarbakir, the largest city in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey, some throwing rocks at police, an AFP correspondent said.
‘No to intimidation’
Officers responded using batons, tear gas and water cannon to repel the protesters, the correspondent said.
“The pressure will not intimidate us,” demonstrators chanted.
The Diyarbakir governor’s office had warned that any planned demonstrations on Wednesday were “unlawful” and would not be allowed, saying that since August 15, public gatherings and meetings were banned in the city.
Other rallies were planned elsewhere in Turkey including Istanbul.
The prosecutor said Kisanak was accused of being a member of the PKK, while both individuals had made speeches in support of the rebel group.
They are also alleged to have allowed the use of municipal vehicles for the “funerals of terrorist members”, the prosecutor added, referring to the PKK.
The PKK is proscribed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey as well as the European Union and United States.
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 Kurdish community in Turkey and worldwide openly sympathise with PKK rebels.
In September, 24 mayors suspected of links to the PKK were suspended and replaced with officials close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) co-founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
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. But the government says the operations are essential for public safety, blaming the PKK for the damage.