Supporters of Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party gathered in central Istanbul on Monday to protest the recent military operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.
The demonstrators included Sabahat Tuncel and Sırrı Süreyya Önder, who are running as independent candidates in the upcoming general elections with the support of the Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP.
Twelve alleged PKK militants were killed over the weekend in the southeastern province of Şırnak’s Uludere district.
The recent escalation in clashes is a sign that the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has turned over the job of dealing with the “Kurdish issue” to the Turkish military, said Sırrı Süreyya Önder, an independent deputy candidate supported by the pro-Kurdish BDP.
Speaking during the Istanbul protest, Önder said the Kurdish people would not let the government or the military tread on their rights.
Tuncel, who currently represents Istanbul in Parliament, said the same people who once criticized military operations in the 1990s are responsible for worse events. “There will be more to come after the elections. What will happen after the elections will be done to sustain the revolutionary struggle of Kurdistan,” Tuncel said, calling on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to have a better understanding of Turkey.
Levent Tüzel, an independent candidate from Istanbul’s 3rd Region, blamed the ruling party for “impeding the peace process,” adding that they would not be stopped “by any impediments in our cause to liberate their people.”
“We made a promise to our people and we will keep it,” he said.
The operation conducted by the Turkish military after the PKK decided on a cease-fire was inhumane, said Freedom and Solidarity Party, or ÖDP, leader Alper Taş. “The government says ‘our shared attribute is Islam,’ but what has been done is against the rules of this religion,” he said.
The PKK has been designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Following the speeches in Istanbul, some members of the protesting group sought to march but were thwarted by riot police, who used tear gas to disperse the protesters. Some demonstrators threw rocks, bottles and fireworks at the police officers.
Hürriyet Daily News
May 16, 2011