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Angry Kurdish protesters clash with Turkish authorities over
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Angry Kurdish protesters clash with
Turkish authorities over civilian deaths
Airstrike deaths deepen
rift between Kurds, Turks
January 1, 2012
ISTANBUL, — Angry Kurds on Saturday
assaulted a local official who sought to offer
condolences in a village in Turkey where 35 Kurdish
civilians were mistakenly killed in a military
airstrike meant to target Kurdish rebels.
The televised spectacle of men throwing punches and
stones at Naif Yavuz, a district governor, was the
latest eruption of fury over Wednesday's airstrikes,
and it highlighted the deep gulf of trust between
the Turkish state and large segments of its ethnic
Clashes also broke out for a third day between
and protesters in several cities in the mainly
Kurdish southeast, the state-run Anadolu
agency reported. Thirty-six people were detained in
the city of Sanliurfa. There were peaceful protests
in several other cities.
The strikes by F-16 jets, guided by intelligence
from drones, hit a group of Kurdish smugglers and
resulted in one of the highest single-day civilian
death tolls in Turkey's decades-old war with Kurdish
rebels, setting off several days of violent
demonstrations in mostly Kurdish cities.
The rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party, labeled a
terrorist group by Turkey and the West, threatened
retaliation and urged protesters to mobilize. The
group, however, is considerably weakened since the
peak of its military powers in the 1990s and its
influence is largely confined to the poor southeast,www.ekurd.net
where calls for autonomy and an end to
discrimination resonate most strongly.
"No one should have any doubt that their blood will
be avenged. The Kurdistan freedom movement will make
sure that this massacre is accounted for," Firat, a
pro-Kurdish news agency, quoted rebel commander
Murat Karayilan as saying.
"If the Kurdish people do not want their children to
die, they must now say 'enough' and they must rise
up everywhere and go out in the streets," said
Karayilan, who is based in the mountains of northern
Kurdish rebels have routinely used the border region
to launch attacks on Turkish targets, slipping into
Turkey on some of the same rugged paths used by fuel
and cigarette smugglers for years.
Turkish officials have promised a full investigation
into the botched airstrike, and said those
responsible will be held to account. Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan telephoned the families of the
victims in the village of Gulyazi in Sirnak province
to express condolences, and his voice was broadcast
through a loudspeaker.
"We share your grief, your pain is our pain," the
Anadolu agency quoted Erdogan as saying. "Everyone
must rest assured that all kind of work is under way
in relation to the issue."
The Show TV channel showed one man telling Erdogan
on the telephone: "They didn't deserve to die in
Erdogan replies: "The issue is not that they were
smugglers. You know the area, it is a very sensitive
area, it is not possible for them (the military) to
recognize each and every person."
Footage from the Dogan news agency of the visit of
Yavuz, the district governor, revealed the bitter
feeling toward figures representing the state in a
province where the conflict has long disrupted life.
The images show men booing, lunging forward and
pummeling Yavuz as his aides try to hustle him down
a road lined with parked cars and bleak,
snow-covered slopes. At one point, dazed and
disheveled, he runs down an embankment to get away
from the crowd. Yavuz was taken to a hospital for a
checkup, according to reports.
Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay visited bereaved
families in a house and told Anadolu that members of
a "party," an apparent reference to political
activists, provoked the attack on Yavuz and that the
families were disturbed by the incident and
apologized for it.
Opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who plans to
visit the region on Sunday, said the government has
yet to explain how the intelligence that led to the
airstrike was compiled, and who exactly was
"It seems that the incident was caused by incorrect
intelligence," he said. "Who provided this
intelligence to the military headquarters? They say
no country would bomb its own people, but it has.
Who will account for this?"
Turkey's National Intelligence Organization, known
by its Turkish acronym MIT, has denied reports it
provided the information that led to the airstrike.
The United States recently deployed four Predator
drones to Turkey from Iraq to aid Ankara in its
fight against the rebels.
Also Saturday, Turkish media reported that two
suspected Kurdish rebels were killed in a police
raid in Diyarbakir, the main city in southeastern
Turkey. The Anadolu agency said the rebels ignored
calls to surrender and threw hand grenades at police
surrounding their hideout. A firefight ensued, and
the suspects died after jumping out of the building.
The Turkish government has sought to reconcile with
disaffected Kurds, allowing Kurdish-language
institutes and private Kurdish courses as well as
Kurdish television broadcasts. But Kurdish activists
cite police roundups of Kurdish politicians,
journalists and others suspected of rebel links as a
sign of intolerance toward the minority.
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, 2011 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 21, 2011.
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
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.