Turkish police fire rubber bullets on Kurdish protest march

Police in southeast Turkey fired rubber bullets on a Kurdish protest march and physically assaulted a group of protesters that included members of parliament, the Arti Gercek news website reported on Wednesday.

The “Great Freedom March,” an initiative spearheaded by pro-Kurdish political networks and civil society groups, had arrived in the province of Sanliurfa where they encountered the police intervention.

Victims of the police violence included politicians from the Peoples’ Democracy and Equality Party (DEM), the report said.

The event had been organized to call for a peaceful settlement of the armed conflict in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish regions and an end to what is referred to as the “isolation” of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Serving an aggravated life sentence on the island prison of Imrali in northwest Turkey, Ocalan has reportedly been denied visitation and lawyer meetings for months.

The PKK has been waging war against the Turkish state for decades and is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

With the exception of brief respites, the Kurdish political movement often operates under pressure from the authorities, and many of its parties were shut down in the past for alleged terrorist affiliation.

Since the breakdown in mid-2015 of peace talks between the government and the PKK and a failed military coup that unleashed a widespread government crackdown on dissent the next year, the authorities detained and prosecuted scores of politicians on terrorism-related charges due to their alleged links to or propaganda on behalf of the PKK.

Turkey’s counterterrorism laws are frequently criticized by international observers for being overly vague and allowing too much room for politically motivated interpretation.

The right to peaceful assembly has also been systematically undermined in the Kurdish-majority provinces where local governorates regularly impose blanket bans on outdoor gatherings.

News Code 159448

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