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Turkish police prevent pro-Kurdish protest in Istanbul

Turkish police prevent pro-Kurdish protest in Istanbul

2019/02/11 | 18:40

(Hatha al-Youm | Iraq News)- Kurdish protesters wore vests bearing images of hunger striking lawmaker Leyla Guven, Istanbul, February 11, 2019. Photo: AFP

ISTANBUL,— Dozens of Turkish police blocked a march by pro-Kurdish opposition lawmakers in Istanbul on Monday that was organised in solidarity with a hunger striking MP who was released from prison last month.

Security officers carrying anti-riot shields surrounded around 40 MPs and activists from the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to prevent them from walking down Istiklal Avenue in the heart of the metropolis, AFP journalists said.

They were attempting to protest in support of HDP lawmaker Leyla Guven, who has been on hunger strike for nearly a hundred days calling for improvement in the prison conditions for Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).











“We are here to join our voices with Leyla Guven, to lend our strength to her fight,” said HDP co-leader Sezai Temelli.

Protesters wearing vests bearing images of Guven tried unsuccessfully to push against the wall of police shields. After a short sit-in, they dispersed.

Guven, 55, was imprisoned last year for criticising Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria.

She was released last month but her supporters remain worried about her health, as she continues to subsist on only sugared or salted water in an effort to pressure the Turkish government to allow Ocalan to hold regular meetings with his family members and lawyers.

Ocalan, who was arrested 20 years ago, is serving a life sentence on Imrali island, close to Istanbul.

Ocalan, one of the founders of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has been serving a life sentence on a prison island off Istanbul since his 1999 capture.

The PKK took up arms in 1984 against the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to push for greater autonomy in Turkish Kurdistan for the Kurdish minority who make up around 22.5 million of the country’s 79-million population. More than 40,000 Turkish soldiers and Kurdish rebels, have been killed in the conflict.

A large Kurdish community in Turkey and worldwide openly sympathise with PKK rebels and Abdullah Ocalan, who founded the PKK group in 1974 and currently serving a life sentence in Turkey, has a high symbolic value for most Kurds in Turkey and worldwide according to observers.

His PKK is proscribed as a terrorist group by Ankara, the European Union and the United States.

The authorities allowed the PKK leader to meet his brother Mehmet last month, the first visit in over two years.

HDP has said over 300 prisoners are also on hunger strike in solidarity with Guven.

“We will not let allow our comrades lose their lives. We have come together here to prevent that,” Pervin Buldan, HDP co-leader, said.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu had warned on Sunday that the HDP protest would be banned.

Copyright © 2019, respective author or news agency, AFP | Ekurd.net

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