Thousands of Turkish protesters denounce crackdown on pro-Kurd lawmakers, mayors

November 20, 2016 9:00 pm

Protesters shout slogans and hold placards reading, “Make noise against injustice” on November 20, 2016, during a demonstration in the Turkish city of Istanbul. (Photo by AFP)

Thousands of opposition protesters have staged a mass rally to denounce an ongoing crackdown on lawmakers from ’s main pro-Kurdish party and municipal chiefs in the southeast.
At least 5,000 demonstrators rallied on the Asian side of Turkey’s largest city of Istanbul on Sunday to condemn the arrests of ten prominent lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, also known as the HDP, including the party’s co-leaders, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag.
The angry protesters held placards and chanted slogans denouncing the “fascist” state and vowing, “Shoulder to shoulder against fascism.”
Turkish security forces have detained at least ten lawmakers from the HDP this month on charges of supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in its deadly insurgency in southeastern Turkey. Several mayors in the predominantly Kurdish southeast were also arrested following similar allegations.

Protesters shout slogans and hold placards reading, “We will not give up” on November 20, 2016, during a demonstration in the Turkish city of Istanbul. (Photo by AFP)

The arrests have prompted angry reactions from the European Union and other Western countries.
The arrests marked a sharp escalation in the Turkish government’s months-long crackdown that has seen many put behind bars or suspended from work over allegations of being linked to the PKK and Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric accused by Ankara of orchestrating the abortive coup of July 15. Gulen denies the allegation.
Southeastern Turkey has been the scene of deadly fighting between Kurdish militants and the army over the past months. The fighting escalated after Turkey declared the collapse of years-long peace negotiations with the Kurds last year and began imposing restrictions in Kurdish-dominated areas.
Ankara has also intensified attacks on alleged PKK positions in Iraq and Syria. The PKK has claimed responsibility for a number of deadly attacks in major Turkish cities over the past months.
The PKK is regarded as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community. Its decades-long fighting for an independent state in southeastern Turkey has left tens of thousands dead.
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