Kurdish Protesters clash with Turkish Police

Turkey police, Kurdish protesters clash

Sat, 15 Feb 2014 18:36:08 GMT

Violence has broken out between Kurdish protesters and security forces in several towns in southeastern Turkey, local media reported.

The clashes erupted on Saturday as protesters were marking the 15th anniversary of the capture of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Dogan news agency reported.

In the city of Diyarbakir, protesters hurled stones and petrol bombs at riot police.

Police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse protesters.

Similar demonstrations took place in other cities of Turkey with police intervening to disperse the protesters.

Ocalan, who was captured by Turkish security forces in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, in 1999, is serving a life sentence at Imrali Island prison on charges of leading the PKK in its armed campaign against Ankara.

The PKK has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region in southeastern Turkey since the 1980s. The conflict has left tens of thousands of people dead on both sides.

Last year, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan proposed the long-awaited reforms to enhance the rights of Turkey’s Kurdish community.

Under the reforms, Kurdish-language education will be permitted in private schools, and election candidates will be allowed to campaign in Kurdish.

The reforms also aim to ease rules that prevent pro-Kurdish and other smaller parties from entering the parliament.

In addition, towns can revert to their previous Kurdish names, and a quirky ban on the use of three letters of the Kurdish alphabet that do not exist in Turkish will be lifted.

The PKK, however, described the government’s reform package as disappointing.

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