Police, Kurdish demonstrators clash in Turkey

AFP , Tuesday 15 Feb 2011

Kurdish demonstrators clash with police during protests that mark the anniversary of a rebel leader

Police detained some 100 Kurdish demonstrators across southeast Turkey on Tuesday in clashes during protests marking the anniversary Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan's capture.

Around 2,000 people gathered in downtown Diyarbakir, the largest city of the the mainly Kurdish region, denouncing Ocalan's capture in Kenya on 15 February 1999, an AFP reporter said.

Riot police used tear gas to stop the crowd from marching on the city's main avenue, coming under a hail of sticks and stones from the demonstrators.

Some 20 people were detained. At least one policeman and a protester were injured.

Most shopkeepers in the city kept their businesses closed, heeding a traditional Kurdish custom of lending support to protests in the region.

In nearby Batman, police detained more than 30 people in similar unrest, local officials said.

About 50 others were taken into custody at demonstrations in Hakkari, Van and Sanliurfa, media reports said.

Violent Kurdish protests have become a fixture on the anniversaries of Ocalan's capture.

Aided by US intelligence services, Turkish agents nabbed Ocalan in Nairobi after he was forced to leave the Greek embassy, where he had taken refuge while on the run after leaving his long-time safe-haven in Syria.

In June 1999, a Turkish court sentenced him to death over the bloody separatist campaign his outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has waged in the southeast.

The sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment as Turkey abolished capital punishment as part of EU-sought reforms.

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

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