Turkish police use tear gas, water cannon against Kurdish protesters (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)
Turkish police have dispersed thousands of Kurdish protesters in Diyarbakir, Turkey’s biggest Kurdish town, who demanded an end to curfews imposed less than a month ago in several towns in the country’s southeast.
Turkish police actively used tear gas and water cannons against the Kurdish demonstrators with some of them retaliating by throwing stones at riot control vehicles.
People which joined the rally organized by the Democratic Regions Party (DBP), pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), the Democratic Society Congress and some other Kurdish NGOs, gathered in Diyarbakir’s central Kosuyolu Park and then tried to march through the streets of the city’s Sur district, Turkish media report.
Police blocked the protesters’ way and dispersed the demonstration, deeming it illegal.
“Turkish state force again oppressed those peaceful demonstrators… detained tens of people, including an MP from the pro-Kurdish HDP party,” local resident Harun Ercan told RT.
Meanwhile, in the southern Turkish city of Antalya, Turkish police clashed with Kurdish students of the Akdeniz University that gathered to commemorate the victims of the government crackdown on Kurds back in 2011. At least eight people were arrested as a result of the scuffles.
The latest incidents came amid the ongoing Turkish army crackdown on Kurds in the country’s southeast. More than 200 Kurdish fighters from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have been killed in the operation over the last two weeks, according to the military.
With more than 10,000 security troops alongside with tanks and armored vehicles deployed in the region, Turkish forces have turned residential areas into piles of rubble in a six-month offensive against Kurdish militants.
The clashes between Turkish forces and PKK militants have been going on since July with Turkey’s authorities claiming that all those killed during the security operation in the southeast were PKK members. However, according to the Human Rights Watch, more than 100 civilians were killed during the crackdown.
Curfews were imposed in several southeastern towns with Turkish authorities citing security concerns, while local residents repeatedly demanded to lift them.
A two-year ceasefire between the Turkish government and Kurdish militants fell apart in July, reigniting the three-decade conflict that has already claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people.
In a separate rally organized by Turkey's biggest unions, people also demanded that the government stops its crackdown in the country’s Southeast. On Monday, a similar rally was dispersed by police, who also used water cannons and tear gas against the demonstrators.
With the clashes ongoing, a congress of Kurdish non-governmental organizations on Sunday called to grant autonomy to Turkey’s southeastern regions via constitutional reform, calling it the only way for peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue in Turkey.
At the same time, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ruled out any possibility of what he called another state within the Turkish borders.
On Monday, Ankara's Public Prosecutor’s Office has opened a probe into the co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas over his comments about Kurdish self-rule that he voiced during the Sunday congress.