Last Update 13:10
Friday, 24 May 2019

Turkey's Kurds launch protest movement for rights

Kurdish groups start planned protests in Diyarbakir southeast Turkey pressing long-standing demands and a resolution to Kurdish-Turkish conflict

AFP , Thursday 24 Mar 2011
Views: 2494
Views: 2494

Thousands of Kurds, led by lawmakers, took to the streets in southeast Turkey 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.

"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, an end to military operations against the PKK and the lifting of a 10-percent treshhold that parties are required to win to enter parliament.

"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.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, took up arms in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 45,000 lives.

Short link:


Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.

© 2010 Ahram Online.