Erdogan Calls for Unity to Halt Kurdish Protests

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan: we need to be united

Erdogan Calls for Unity to Halt Kurdish Protests

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan yesterday called for national unity to halt Kurdish protests which have left 16 people dead. The latest victim was a 17-year-old youth hurt in clashes in the main southeastern city of Diyarbakir, whose family found his body in a city morgue after a three-day search. It was not clear how he died. The violence was triggered by the funerals last Tuesday of 14 rebels from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who were killed in clashes with security forces. The mainly Kurdish southeast, the focus of the protests, was relatively quiet yesterday.

Erdogan condemned the protesters and the PKK, which he sees as behind the protests, in a speech to his party members in Parliament in Ankara. "Those traitors have emerged again because they know the ground is beginning to slip beneath their feet and they have been buried by history. These are their final convulsions." "I believe that our unity and solidarity will prepare the way to eliminate terror rapidly in our country," he said.

Political analysts and diplomats say the violence reflects local anger over high unemployment, poverty and Ankara's refusal to grant more autonomy to the mainly Kurdish region. The disturbances spread to the country's largest city Istanbul on Sunday when three women were killed as they fled a bus which protesters had set alight with petrol bombs, while youths set up barricades in a poor district of the city.

Ankara, like the European Union and the United States, regards the PKK as a terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of more than 30,000 people since it launched its armed campaign for an ethnic homeland in 1984. But many Kurds sympathize with the PKK and the country's main Kurdish political group, the Democratic Society Party (DTP) has called for talks with the government on the violence.

Erdogan angrily rejected that call yesterday. "First declare that the PKK is a terror group and then we will talk with you," Erdogan said to a standing ovation from his party members. The US State Department has condemned PKK actions and the violence of what it called PKK sympathizers over the last week. Some 360 people have been injured in the violence, including 199 members of the security forces. Of 566 people detained by police, 354 have been remanded in custody awaiting trial.

Source: Arab News

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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