Turkish police drop tear gas on Kurdish student demonstration


Student clashes in Turkey’s Dicle University ended in aggressive police intervention last week when Turkish police dropped tear gas on a student protest.

Distressing photos of the police raid capture officers attacking students with batons and gas clouds enveloping demonstrators in a field near the the university.

The conflict reportedly began on Monday, April 8th, when members of the right-wing Free Cause Party and a Kurdish students’ organization came to blows. Though details of the attack are imprecise, the Global Post reports that members of the Free Cause Party, a political Islamist group associated with Hezbollah, was passing out fliers and reading material on the birth of the Prophet Muhammed. A report from Firat News claims that members of the right-wing group physically attacked Kurdish students during the confrontation.

Over 2,000 students gathered in a field close to campus to protest. The students were reportedly shouting pro-Kurdistan Workers’ Party slogans and marching towards Congress Hall for a press conference. The demonstration was ground to a screeching halt when Turkish police helicopters flew overhead and dropped tear gas on the students. The Global Post paints the scene:

After the police intervened to prevent the march, the group tried to approach the building by crossing fields located near the campus. Diyarbakır Deputy Police Chief Süleyman Hançerli warned that his forces would intervene if the students tried to continue their march.

Police forces then deployed armored vehicles and helicopters, using tear gas fired from the air to disperse the demonstrators.

As buses arrived to transport demonstrators to the hall, police reportedly began throwing bottles and stones at the vehicles, even as discussions between police and the Kurdish students were underway.

When questioned about the use of police aggression on Thursday, Turkish President Abdullah Gül defended officers, replying that use of “proportionate” force was necessary.

“Illegal organizations always consider societal events and resistance against the police as a tool for self-training. Therefore, using force in a way that will not allow for the falling into such traps is a requirement of professionalism too,” he added.

Turkey’s Kurdish residents are the frequent victims of Turkish police brutality. Just last year, during Newroz celebrations, Kurds were attacked with pepper spray and tear gas cannisters in Diyarbakir. Kurdish activists are also often the biggest victims of the police’s harshest actions.

UPDATE: Firat News reports that dozens of students were detained after “extremist Islamists” attacked a group of students at Istanbul University on Monday.