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 Turkey: Tens of thousands demand freedom for Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan

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Turkey: Tens of thousands demand freedom for Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan  15.2.2012   

Photo: DIHA
February 15, 2012

DIYARBAKIR, The Kurdish region of Turkey, — Rallies and press conferences were held today in 40 different locations in the region in order to protest the anniversary of the capture of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) Leader Abdullah Öcalan, DIHA news agency reported.

Öcalan's capture was condemned and messages of resistance and peace were given in demonstrations in Adana, Adıyaman, Antep, Batman, Bingöl, Dersim, Elazığ, Erzurum, Iğdır, Hatay, Kars, Mersin, Siirt, Van and its Bostaniçi, Gevaş, Muradiye, Gürpınar and Saray districts, Ağrı and its Doğubayazıt district, Hakkari and its Yüksekova district, Muş and its Bulanık district, Diyarbakir and its Kocaköy, Hilvan, Bismil, Silvan and Dicle districts, Urfa and its Viranşehir, Suruç and Ceylanpınar districts, Mardin and its Midyat, Kızıltepe, Derik, Dargeçit, Mazıdağı and Nusaybin districts, Şırnak and its Güçlükonak, Cizre and Beytüşşebap districts.

Demonstrations and press conferences were also held in other parts of Turkey, including İzmir, Aydın, Istanbul and Bodrum.

The Democratic Congress of the People (HDK) made a written statement regarding the thirteenth anniversary of Öcalan's capture. "Any unlawful treatment or pressure towards Öcalan increases the tension in the country and causes legitimate reactions in the Kurdish people. The operations under the name of KCK [Union of Kurdistan Communities] bring the Kurdish issue to a dead end. Violence against the Kurds is increasing. The government is targeting all who take the side of negotiation instead of violence. A dialogue with the BDP [Peace and Democracy Party] as well as the other personalities considered representatives by Kurds should be established and the arrested negotiations should be restarted," said the statement.

Istanbul and Diyarbakir demonstrations attacked by police

Turkish police attacked demonstrators attempting to gather in the Taksim Square on Wednesday in order to protest the anniversary of the capture of Abdullah Öcalan. Many have been taken under custody. Clashes were reported between a group of demonstrators and the police. Among the people attacked by police many BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) executives and deputies. ANF news agency reported.

Police had also not allow a similar demonstration in Diyarbakir.

Koşuyolu Park where the reading of a press statement was planned has been cordoned off by police and entry has not been permitted. Some demonstrators have staged a sit in in front of Diyarbakır Kindergarten as the police do not allow the gathering of the four groups by blocking the streets with hundreds of armored vehicles. Thousands around the kindergarten are supporting the action with slogans.

Finally the press release in Diyarbakir was read out but police attacked the people soon after it.

Kurds, including jailed children, protest February 15 across Turkey

Eighteen minor prisoners in the Diyarbakir E Type Prison declared on Wednesday that they will go on a three-day hunger strike in order to protest the anniversary of the capture of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) Leader Abdullah Öcalan, DIHA news agency reported.

Prisoners in the Midyat M Type Prison also declared yesterday that they will go on an indefinite hunger strike without turns to protest the capture and isolation of Abdullah Öcalan.

Hunger strikes continue outside the walls in several cities as well as the prisons. Today is the fourth day of the hunger strikes in Diyarbakır, Şırnak and Mardin and the second day of the hunger strike in Ağrı. A one-day hunger strike was started today in Bursa as the three-day hunger strike was ended in Istanbul.

Three arrests in Diyarbakir

Three arrests and ongoing street clashes have been reported in Diyarbakir as demonstrations to protest the 13th anniversary of the capture of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) Leader Abdullah Öcalan were held today across Turkey, DIHA news agency reported.

Demonstrators had responded to the police with stones and Molotov cocktails following violent attack of police earlier in Diyarbakır. Barricades have been put up with garbage containers and hundreds of demonstrators have burned tires on main streets while many armored vehicles keeping the city under blockade.  Clashes reportedly continue in several neighbourhoods.

Twenty-four were arrested today in Istanbul where the police did not allow the demonstrations with the same reason.

Street clashes in Cizre

Violent street clashes took place last night in the Cizre Town of Şırnak between protestors and the police. The police who had taken broad security measures in the town since days threw gas bombs at a group of protestors who blocked some roads. Blast bombs, Molotov cocktails and bangers were thrown at the police and the armored vehicles. The clashes continued for several hours. DIHA reported.

Abdullah Ocalan - PKK

Ocalan is the founder of the outlawed Turkey Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which took up arms for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey (Northern Kurdistan). Ocalan had been forced from his long-time home in Syria by Turkish pressure in 1998, embarked on an odyssey through several European countries and ended up in the residence of the Greek ambassador in Nairobi. He was on his way from there to the airport on February 15, 1999 when he was arrested by Turkish agents and put on a plane to Turkey.

Following the arrest, violent protests by Kurds erupted all over Europe. Ocalan was put on trial on the heavily guarded prison island of Imrali in the Sea of Marmara near Istanbul and sentenced to death. His sentence was later commuted to life in prison, after Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2002. Ocalan was the only prisoner for a decade until new prisoners arrived on November 2009, after the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) criticised Ankara for violating Ocalan's human rights by keeping him in solitary confinement.  He is allowed only visits from close relatives and his lawyers.

Ocalan has a high symbolic value for most Kurds in Turkey.

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 lives.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish region 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 constitution.

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 expectations.

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. 

Compiled by from news agencies.

Copyright ©, respective author or news agency, DIHA - | | | Agencies


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