Turkey: Clashes as police break up Kurd
protest air strike on civilians
December 29, 2011
Riot police stand guard as Kurds protest after
Turkey's air strike in southeastern Turkey killing
35 civilian Kurds, many of them believed to be
smugglers mistaken for guerrillas, in Istanbul,
Turkey, Thursday, Dec. 29. 2011. The killings
spurred angry demonstrations in Istanbul and several
cities in the mostly Kurdish southeast, and were the
latest incident of violence to undermine the Turkish
government's efforts to appease the aggrieved
Kurdish minority by granting it more cultural
freedoms. Photo: AP
Locals gather in front of the bodies of people who
were killed in a warplane attack in the Ortasu
village of Uludere, in the Sirnak province, on
December 29, 2011. Turkish warplanes killed 23
Kurdish villagers in an air strike near the Iraqi
border when smugglers were apparently mistaken for
PKK militants, a pro-Kurdish official said.
Provincial officials found 23 bodies at Ortasu
village in Sirnak province, said Ertan Eris, a local
councillor of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy
Party (BPD). Photo: Getty Images.
— Turkish police used tear gas and water cannon to
break up a demonstration in Istanbul by around 2,000
Kurds protesting against an air strike in
southeastern Turkey [ northern Kurdistan] that
killed 35 Kurdish villagers.
Several hundred youths, many of them with scarves
over their faces, threw stones at the police and
smashed police and civilian vehicles during the
demonstration in the city's main Taksim Square.
Police responded with water cannon and tear gas
grenades and made several arrests.
Demonstrators brandished portraits of those killed
in the air strike, which Turkey's ruling Justice and
Development Party earlier said may have been a
"According to initial reports, these people were
smugglers and not terrorists," said the party's
vice-president Huseyin Celik.
"Thirty-five people were killed and another person
wounded in an aerial operation," the local Sirnak
provincial governor's office said in a statement.
"A crisis centre has been set up in the area and
prosecutors and security officers have been sent
there," Governor Vahdettin Ozkan said.
Provincial officials said earlier they had found 23
bodies at the Kurdish village of Ortasu in Sirnak,www.ekurd.net
according to Ertan Eris, a local councillor of the
pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BPD).
Eris told pro-Kurdish Roj TV from the bombing site
that the dead were among a group of up to 40 people,
ranging in age from 16 to 20, who were engaged in
smuggling gas and sugar across the mountain border
with Iraqi Kurdistan region.
Kurdish media and local sources close to the PKK
have presented slain rebels as civilians after
previous incidents in the area, where the militants
are known to operate.
Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been
fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the
constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a
Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000
But now its aim is the creation an autonomous
and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who
constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's
Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.
PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees,
lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the
way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within
Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader
Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against
the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish
Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population
as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural
rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish
language and private Kurdish language courses with
the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish
politicians say the measures fall short of their
The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by
Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the
blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which
overturned a decision
to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its
political wing on the European Union's terror list.
Clashes between Kurdish rebels and the army have
escalated in recent months.
The Turkish military launched an operation on
militant bases inside northern Iraq in October after
a PKK attack killed 24 soldiers in the border town
of Cukurca, the army's biggest loss since 1993.
The army then killed 36 Kurdish rebels in Kazan
Valley in Hakkari province, near the Iraqi border.
Media reports in Turkey and abroad, as well as the
BDP, have accused Turkey of using chemical weapons
against the rebels, allegations strongly denied by
In November Turkey bombed the Sulaimaniyah and Erbil
provinces of Iraq's autonomous northern Kurdish
region, wounding a civilian, Kurdish officials said.
Since August 17, Turkish jets repeatedly carried out
air strikes against the Kurdish PKK separatist
group's bases in
Iraqi Kurdistan region,
under justification of chasing elements of the
anti-Ankara PKK, forcing large numbers of Kurdish
citizens of those areas to desert their home
villages, including an air raid that
Kurdish civilians in a village north
of Kurdistan’s Sulaimaniyah city on August 21st.
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