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Turkish police clash with protesters over sacking 11,500 teachers

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Turkish police use water cannon against teachers in Diyarbakir on September 9, 2016 during a protest against the suspension of over 10,000 teachers for suspected links to militants. (AFP photo)

Turkish police have clashed with demonstrators protesting the dismissal of 11,500 teachers suspected of links with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group in the southeast of the country.

Police used tear gas and water cannon on Friday to disperse hundreds of protesters, including suspended teachers, who took part in the rally in front of the education directorate in city of Diyarbakir while whistling and shouting slogans against the dismissals mostly targeting educators from the Kurdish-majority region of the country.

Among the slogans shouted by the protesters were “We will win by resisting!" and "Shoulder to shoulder against fascism!" as cited in an AFP report.

At least 30 protesters were arrested.

Turkish police detain a woman during a protest in Diyarbakir on September 9, 2016.  (AFP photo)

The protest rally came following the suspension of teachers by Turkish authorities over alleged PKK links in the predominantly Kurdish province of Tunjeli in eastern Turkey in which nearly 420 educators were sacked.

PKK has long been listed by Ankara, its Western allies as well as other countries as a terrorist organization.

The large-scale sacking of teachers in southeastern Turkey came just over a week prior to the opening of the school year across the embattled nation following a failed coup in July.

Turkish police detain a man during a protest in Diyarbakir on September 9, 2016.  (AFP photo)

According to local report, the number of sacked educators was expected to climb to 14,000 -- a figure first pronounced by Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim during a key visit to Diyarbakir last weekend.

Turkey has suspended or sacked at least 93,000 people from their jobs and detained 35,000 more on suspicion of involvement in the failed coup. Ankara has blamed the coup on US-based opposition figure Fethullah Gulen and demanded his extradition.

The scope of such massive crackdown has raised concern among rights groups and even Turkey's Western allies, fearing that President Tayyip Erdogan is using the failed coup as a pretext to curb dissent.

The anti-PKK campaign is Turkey's largest ever against the militant group, and the removal of civil servants linked to the PKK is a key part of the fight, Erdogan declared on Thursday.

Turkey will remove municipal managers who support the PKK and appoint new administrators to more than two dozen municipalities, the country’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said in a broadcast interview with a local news outlet.

"The management of 28 municipalities will be removed from under the instructions of Qandil and will be transformed to the will of the sons of this nation," he said, referring to the Qandil mountains in northern Iraq where the PKK's senior leadership is based.

Protest rallies have been banned across Diyarbakir province since mid-August during the state of emergency declared after the failed coup. On Friday, the Diyarbakir governor's office also imposed a curfew in more than a dozen neighborhoods across three districts, as security operations were planned against Kurdish militants in the region.

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