Turkish riot police have engaged in clashes with Kurdish demonstrators protesting against a curfew imposed by Ankara in the southeastern part of Turkey.
Turkish protesters took to the streets in the troubled southeastern city of Diyarbakir on Sunday, and denounced restrictions on the free movement of people imposed by the Turkish government with the declared aim of facilitating counter-terrorism operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The demonstrators, joined by several legislators from the pro-Kurdish and left-wing People’s Democratic Party (HDP), marched toward the armored police vehicles deployed to the area and set fire to tires to block the streets.
“I am asking the government that ordered these measures: Don’t these lands belong to you? Aren’t these people part of your nation? Why are you treating these people like enemy soldiers?” HDP co-chairwoman Figen Yuksekdag said.
Riot police forces fired tear gas canisters and used water cannon to disperse the protesters.
On December 11, Turkish authorities lifted a nine-day curfew in the Sur district of Diyarbakir that had been put in place after heavy fighting with PKK militants but then promptly re-imposed the measure.
Turkey has been engaged in a large-scale military campaign against the PKK in its southern border region in the recent past. The Turkish military has also been conducting offensives against the positions of the PKK in northern Iraq.
The operations began in the wake of a deadly July 20 bombing in the southern Turkish town of Suruc, an ethnically Kurdish town located close to border with Syria. Over 30 people died in the Suruc attack, which the Turkish government blamed on Takfiri Daesh terrorists.
After the bombing in Suruc, the PKK militants, who accuse the government in Ankara of supporting Daesh, engaged in a series of supposed reprisal attacks against Turkish police and security forces, in turn prompting the Turkish military operations.