Turkish police use water cannon, tear gas on Kurdish protesters

20/08/2019 - 19:10 Published in News/General

Riot police fired water cannon and tear gas to disperse protesters demonstrating in southeast Turkey on Tuesday against the ousting of three Kurdish mayors five months after they were elected.

Ankara replaced the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) mayors with state officials on Monday and detained more than 400 people for suspected militant links in a step sharply criticized by opposition parties.

In Diyarbakir, the region’s biggest city, police repeatedly used water cannon on small groups of protesters, who huddled on the streets to protect themselves from the water cannon and made victory signs with their hands.

Riot police struck protesters with batons as they fled the area. The protesters gathered near city hall, which was sealed off by metal barriers after a state administrator took office there on Monday in place of the elected mayor.

“You can see here today a regime of pressure and persecution,” HDP leader Sezai Temelli told reporters in a statement on the street in Diyarbakir as the police acted against the protesters.

 

“We will continue to resist wherever we are because resistance is our legitimate right,” he said.

The Interior Ministry says the ousted HDP mayors of the three major cities - Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van - are accused of various crimes including membership of a terrorist organization and spreading terrorist group propaganda.

The HDP said the mayors’ removal was a political coup and that it is a hostile stance against the political will of the Kurdish people.