Protests Against Turkish Violence Met with Turkish Violence
Turkey’s annual Peace Day is celebrated on September 1st rather than the UN’s international September 21st. But Turkey’s Peace Day did not grant anything of the sort to the 3,000 protesters who filled the streets of Istanbul in support of Kurdish rights and against the Turkish bombings and air strikes that have terrorized northern Iraqi Kurdistan since early August.
The Turkish assault has led to the death of at least eight civilians. 389 people have been arrested. People have had to completely abandon seven Kurdish villages. And the Turkish government claims that 160 Kurdish rebels have been killed in the strike.
As if that wasn’t enough, Prime Minister Erdogan has promised that the supposed “restraint” Turkish forces have shown thus far because of the month of Ramadan will come to an end. As Ramadan has come to an end, Kurds around the world are watching Turkey with mistrust as they wait to see what the coming weeks will bring.
It is under these circumstances that protesters gathered on Thursday in Istanbul to condemn the attacks in Kurdistan and the continued persecution of the Kurds by the Turks. The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) organized the protests in Istanbul and other cities across Turkey. 3,000 people came out to the streets chanting “no war, we want peace now” and calling for brotherhood. But a group of 150 youths started throwing stones and petrol bombs, eliciting an extreme police response. Riot police dispersed copious amounts of tear gas into the crowds, which escalated the protests. One man was reported to have collapsed from the tear gas, as three thousand protesters fled the Turkish riot police.
As the chaos continued, a CNN cameraman reported that he saw a group of Kurdish men beating an unidentified man. A flower cart was overturned. “Billboards advertising the face of Turkey’s prime minister had been defaced with graphiti saying “the Arab Spring will come to Turkey and you will be on trial.” ” described the CNN report.
The protests in Istanbul occur within the context of a surge of global protests against the Turkish assault on northern Iraqi Kurdistan. Other protests in Turkey are scheduled, most notably in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir.
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