Clashes after Tur­key de­tains Di­yarbakir may­ors

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Turkish po­lice clashed with pro­test­ers in Di­yarbakir yes­ter­day, us­ing tear gas and wa­ter can­non to pre­vent them demon­strat­ing against the de­ten­tion of the Kur­dish­ma­jor­ity 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 hit by re­newed fight­ing be­tween Turkish forces and mem­bers of the out­lawed 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. At least 25 pro­test­ers were now in cus­tody, se­cu­rity sources said. Ac­cord­ing to the cor­re­spon­dent, there was no ac­cess to the in­ter­net in Di­yarbakir since morn­ing. Do­gan news agency re­ported that from 10:30am (0730 GMT) other south­east­ern and east­ern cities like Bat­man, Van, Elazig, Gaziantep and Kilis also could not ac­cess the in­ter­net.

‘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 warned that any demon­stra­tions yes­ter­day 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 in the city’s pop­u­lar Istik­lal Av­enue. A group of around 50 peo­ple tried to hold a sit-in on the av­enue as they car­ried a large ban­ner say­ing: “Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties be­long to the peo­ple-peo­ple can­not be taken over”, an AFP pho­tog­ra­pher said. But the po­lice pro­hib­ited it and threat­ened to in­ter­vene, the pho­tog­ra­pher said, adding the group chanted: “We are shoul­der to shoul­der against facism” and “If you are quiet, you will be next”.

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 pro-Kur­dish left­ist Peo­ple’s Demo­cratic Party (HDP) de­scribed the move against the may­ors as “ex­tremely un­law­ful and ar­bi­trary”. In a state­ment, the party said the au­thor­i­ties’ ac­tions showed a hos­tile at­ti­tude to­ward the po­lit­i­cal will of the Kur­dish elec­torate. The HDP called on the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity not to re­main silent to the “ground­less and fab­ri­cated ac­cu­sa­tions” against the co-may­ors.

‘Arms must be laid down’

EU for­eign pol­icy chief Fed­er­ica Mogherini and en­large­ment com­mis­sioner Jo­hannes Hahn de­scribed their de­ten­tion as “wor­ry­ing” in a state­ment yes­ter­day. Al­though the EU pro­scribes the PKK as a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion, Mogherini and Hahn urged both sides to find a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion. “Arms must be laid down and a process of in­ter­nal po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue should start as a mat­ter of pri­or­ity, in­volv­ing the elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the af­fected pop­u­la­tion,” they said.

More than 40,000 peo­ple have been killed since the PKK first launched an in­sur­gency in the south­east in 1984. A two-and-a-half-year cease­fire col­lapsed last July which led to al­most daily at­tacks by the PKK against se­cu­rity forces while Ankara launched mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions in the south­east to rid ur­ban ar­eas of fight­ers. Last month, 24 may­ors sus­pected of links to the PKK were sus­pended and re­placed with of­fi­cials close to the rul­ing Jus­tice and De­vel­op­ment Party (AKP) co­founded by Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan. In the same month, the gov­ern­ment sus­pended 11,500 teach­ers sus­pected of links to the PKK. —AFP

DI­YARBAKIR: Turkish plain-clothes po­lice of­fi­cers de­tain a pro­tester yes­ter­day dur­ing a demon­stra­tion against the de­ten­tion of the Kur­dish-ma­jor­ity city’s co-may­ors in Di­yarbakir. —AFP

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