DIYARBAKIR – An unknown number of people were wounded during riots in the South-eastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, among them a Kurdish parliamentarian and the Mayor of Diyarbakir, Osman Baydemir.
The riots started when thousands of people wanted to demonstrate for the release from detention of Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the violent Kurdish movement the PKK. No permission was given for the demonstration.
Selahattin Demirtas, parliamentarian for pro-Kurdish BDP, explained earlier in a press statement why, according to the BDP, a demonstration was necessary. Demirtas: ‘We want peace. To achieve that, Öcalan needs to be talked to, and that’s why he needs to be set free.’
According to the BDP no permission is needed to hold a demonstration, and that’s why it wasn’t cancelled despite the ban.
The police didn’t give the MP’s permission to go to the protest site, either by bus or on foot. Way before the scheduled beginning of the demonstration, riots started in several places in the city. Stones and Molotov cocktails were being thrown and the police used a lot of water cannons and tear gas.
PKK leader Öcalan has been locked up on the prison island of Imrali ever since he was arrested in 1999. He has been in solitary confinement for almost a year, having no contact with his family or lawyers.
The riots continued on Saturday late into the afternoon.