Turkey's Kurds launch protest movement for
Kurdish Civil disobedience campaign has begun in
region of Turkey, — Thousands of Kurds, led by
lawmakers, took to the streets in southeast Turkey
[Turkey Kurdistan] Thursday for the first of a
series of planned protests for broader rights and an
end to military conflict.
Some 3,000 people gathered in Diyarbakir, the
largest city of the mainly Kurdish region, to stage
a sit-in, but the authorities banned the
demonstration and deployed armoured vehicles to stop
Only several dozen people -- Kurdish members of
Turkey's parliament and local mayors -- were allowed
to the sit-in venue, while the crowd occupied the
street in protest, blocking traffic, an AFP reporter
Kurds in Diyarbakir, Batman and many other cities
have started civil disobedience actions. Photo: ANF
"Kurdistan will be the
grave of fascism," demonstrators chanted and also
shouted slogans praising the separatist Kurdistan
Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a bloody
26-year campaign for Kurdish self-rule in the
A small group hurled fireworks at the police, who
responded with a hail of pepper gas and detained
In a challenge to Ankara ahead of elections in June,
the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Turkey's main
Kurdish political movement, said Wednesday it was
launching a series of demonstrations to press
long-standing Kurdish demands.
It lashed out at the government for failing to ease
the conflict and called for Kurdish-language
education, the release of political activists from
end to military operations against the PKK and the
lifting of a 10-percent treshhold that parties are
required to win to enter parliament.
Selahattin Demirtas and Gultan Kisanak joined the
protestors in Diyarbakir and as well as mayor Osman
Baydemir and DTK's Ahmet Turk and Aysel Tugluk.
But this morning Diyarbakir governor declared the
campaign unlawful and Turkish police removed the
tents of Kurdish protestors from Ofis quarter of the
city. Turkish police also blocked all roads to the
area where a sit-in action was planned.
Despite the ban Kurdish politicians started a sit-in
action with the participation of nearly 50 people
while tens of thousands showed their support by
Demirtas condemned Turkish governors actions saying
that the campaign has a politically motivated and
their colluctor is not Turkish police but Prime
Minister and Interior Minister. He said that BDP is
more than determined to carry the civil disobedience
actions in Kurdish region.
DTK's Ahmet Turk said they will continue the sit-in
action despite the pressure from the Turkish
In Batman Turkish police also removed tents of the
protestors and detained tens of protestors on the
first day of civil disobedience campaign. BDP
deputee Bengi Yildiz was also forcebly removed by
Turkish police while he joined the sit-in action in
"We will be in the streets until the government
takes concrete steps on those four demands," BDP
leader Selahattin Demirtas said.
Last year, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's
Islamist-rooted government launched a cautious,
low-profile bid for a dialogue with the Kurds,
seeking to cajole the PKK into permanently laying
Officials held direct meetings with jailed PKK
leader Abdullah Ocalan in his prison cell, but the
process has failed to produce any visible outcome so
Bidding to resolve the conflict carries political
risks for Erdogan ahead of the June 12 elections as
many Turks remain hostile to reconciliation moves as
concessions to violence.
The PKK announced a unilateral truce in August but
last month threatened to end it, saying the
ceasefire has become "meaningless" due to Ankara's
failure to advance dialogue.
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.
But now its aim is the creation an autonomous region and more cultural rights
for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more
than 20 million.
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 president, stopping military action
against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.
PKK demanded to stop military and political operations and to release
Kurdish politicians who are unjustly detained. The organization also requested
to enable imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan's active participation in the
The PKK is considered a '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.
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