Turkish authorities in the Kurdish-majority eastern province of Van (Wan) refused permission for a section of the ‘Freedom March’ to target Gemlik in northwestern Bursa province, where Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan is imprisoned on İmralı Island.
🔴#UPDATE | Police intervened against the protestors, including HEDEP representatives, gathered in Turkey’s southern province of Mersin for the '#FreedomMarch' to demand the lifting of PKK leader #AbdullahÖcalan’s isolation and the restoration of his freedom. pic.twitter.com/n8DrUn3fbn
— MedyaNews (@medyanews_) November 18, 2023
No agreement could be reached with the police, who cited a four-day ban on demonstrations and gatherings imposed by the Governor’s Office, despite negotiations between the police and the group that had gathered to march towards Gemlik.
Members of the press were escorted away and police surrounded the group, which included representatives of the People’s Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP), with shields. As tensions rose, several arrests were made, including leaders and members of political parties and non-governmental organisations.
Police also intervened against the protestors, including HEDEP representatives, gathered in Turkey’s southern province of Mersin for the ‘Freedom March’ to demand the lifting of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan’s isolation and the restoration of his freedom.
The “Freedom March” began on Saturday in Şırnak (Şirnex) and Şanlıurfa (Riha), with participants heading to Gemlik as part of a widespread demonstration against the isolation of Öcalan, who has been held in İmralı Island Prison since 1999. The protest, sparked by the lack of communication with Öcalan for the past 32 months due to the prevention of visits by his family and lawyers, demands the lifting of his isolation and the restoration of his freedom.
“Our demand is that all democratic organisations and individuals join this march and break the isolation as soon as possible,” said HEDEP deputy Mehmet Zeki İrmez in Şırnak. “We are marching to Gemlik for freedom, for peace.”
The march, which started simultaneously in different cities, aims to reach the island of İmralı in Gemlik. Pro-Kurdish political parties and groups are leading the demonstration.