Dicle Electricity Distribution Co. (DEDAŞ) brought hundreds of Turkish riot police officers to enter a Kurdish neighbourhood in Turkey’s southeastern Mardin (Merdîn) province to carry out repairs on the infrastructure. Clashes ensued when neighbourhood residents objected to DEDAŞ moving the electricity meters from their doorsteps to the top of utility poles, Mezopotamya agency reported on Thursday.
Residents gathered on the neighbourhood’s central avenue as armoured vehicles were brought in. As they protested DEDAŞ’s move, riot police units targeted the residents with pepper spray, water cannons and rubber bullets. At least four people were injured in the altercation, while DEDAŞ cut off power lines under heavy police protection.
One man was taken into custody for allegedly setting fire to a DEDAŞ vehicle on Thursday evening as the police continued to surround the neighbourhood.
Kurdish-majority neighbourhoods have faced similar extreme interventions over DEDAŞ repairs in the past, the most recent happening in the Cizre (Cizîr) district of neighbouring Şırnak (Şirnêx). On 21 September, four women were taken into custody during protests against DEDAŞ digging up streets to move the meters to underground panels. Women allegedly blocked armoured vehicles, in an attempt to keep riot police out. Two others, members of advocacy group Peace Mothers, were detained from their homes the following week, but were released after giving a statement.
Hundreds of soldiers raided a village in Cizre in September, again to allow DEDAŞ to move meters away from homes. Villagers reported a previous raid in July as well, when 20 people were arrested and six injured.