Mon Aug 10, 2015 1:5AM
People shout slogans while holding signs reading “peace” in different languages during a peace gathering in Istanbul, Turkey, on August 9, 2015. (AFP)
People shout slogans while holding signs reading “peace” in different languages during a peace gathering in Istanbul, Turkey, on August 9, 2015. (AFP)

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in the Turkish city of Istanbul to call for peace and protest at Turkey’s airstrikes against Kurdish people in northern Iraq.

The large demonstration, organized by Peace Bloc, was staged in the Bakırköy district on the European side of the city on Sunday, Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported, adding that police deployed armored water cannons to the scene.

Speaking to the demonstrators, Selahattin Demirtas, the co-chair of the People's Democratic Party (HDP) said the demonstration was held because people do not want to see their children killed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). 

People are determined to bring peace to Turkey and to prevent the country from going back to the 1990s, when clashes between Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Turkish army were at their deadliest, Demirtas added.

He called on the Turkish security forces’ mothers to oppose the government and say they did not raise their children to send them away for a war desired by the AKP and “the person living in the palace,” referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, adding that the Peace Bloc must be the biggest political bloc against the AKP for peace to prevail.

A boy holds a sign reading in Turkish “The palace wants war, people want peace” during a demo in Istanbul on August 9, 2015. (AFP)

Supported by HDP and some deputies from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Peace Bloc was founded early in July by a number of political parties, democratic mass organizations, labor and trade bodies, as well as intellectuals and artists in an effort to criticize AKP's discourse of war.

Turkey recently launched airstrikes against purported ISIL targets in Syria as well as PKK positions in Iraq, after a deadly bomb attack, attributed to ISIL Takfiris, left 32 people dead in the southeastern Turkish town of Suruç, across the border from the northern Syrian town of Kobani.

A shaky ceasefire that had stood since 2013 was declared as null by the PKK following the Turkish airstrikes against the group, narrowing chances of the two sides reaching a deal in the near future.

The PKK has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since the 1980s. The conflict has left tens of thousands of people dead.