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 Turkey's Kurds launch protest movement for rights

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Turkey's Kurds launch protest movement for rights  24.3.2011  

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Kurdish Civil disobedience campaign has begun in Turkey

March 24, 2011

DIYARBAKIR, Kurdish southeastern 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 the crowd.

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 said.     

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 southeast.

A small group hurled fireworks at the police, who responded with a hail of pepper gas and detained five people.

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 prison,
www.ekurd.netan 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 demonstrating nearby.

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 authorities.

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 central Batman.

"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 down arms.

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 far.

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 process.

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. 

Copyright ©, respective author or news agency, AFP | | | Agencies 


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