Protests were held in Turkey’s Istanbul and Mersin on Sunday against attacks on Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) guerrillas by special forces affiliated to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the rural Bradost area in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). The protests were led by various pro-Kurdish political parties and civil society organisations, echoing a similar demonstration that had taken place on Saturday in Silopi (Silopya) district, Şırnak (Şirnex) province.
Police detained four people without giving grounds in advance of the press statement of the march organisers at Taksim Tunnel in Istanbul. A group marched from the headquarters of the People’s Democratic Congress (HDK – an umbrella organisation for Kurds and members of the Turkish left) to Taksim Tunnel despite threats from the police. On arrival, they were immediately kettled by the police. “We defend the equality of peoples against war policies”, said Cengiz Çiçek, a member of the pro-Kurdish Green Left Party, reacting against the blockade.
In total, 21 people were detained, including Esengül Demir, an HDK spokeswoman, and Evin Genç, a co-chair of the Anatolian Association for Assistance and Solidarity with the Families of the Disappeared. One individual was subjected to police violence during his arrest despite declaring he had a heart condition. Journalists covering the event were also removed from the area by police.
Parallel protests in Akdeniz district in Mersin were also met with police blockades. The Governorate of Mersin had applied a one-day ban on protest action, but people from various cities including Adana, Antep (Dîlok), Osmaniye and Hatay defied the ban to join the protest. Ali Bozan, a Green Left Party MP for Mersin, stated, “Although Kurdistan is divided into four parts, in our hearts it is one. We don’t want conflict and strife among our people in the four parts”.
The group then marched to the Mersin branch headquarters of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), chanting slogans such as “Long live guerrilla resistance” and “With resistance we will win”.
The protests of Sunday followed a larger gathering in Şırnak’s Silopi district on the previous day, where attendees were met with plastic bullets, tear gas and water cannon from the Turkish security forces. Several were injured, including Keskin Bayındır, a co-chair of the Democratic Regions Party (DBP). The crowd in Silopi had chanted “Death to betrayal”, and Saliha Aydeniz, the other DBP co-chair, warned that the attacks against the guerrillas were “solely in the interests of the Barzani family”, urging KDP leader Masoud Barzani to fulfil his role and his duties.