Supporters of a pro-Kurdish party have flocked into streets across Turkey despite an Internet ban in areas predominantly populated by Kurds, defying the confrontational riot police that attempted to break up the demonstrations staged after the detention of mayor of Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish city.
Selahattin Demirtas, leader of pro-Kurdish HDP, told a group of his supporters in the city that the ban on the Internet and the social media won’t deter their resolve to stand up against the injustice.
“We will get together neighborhood by neighborhood. We will show them that we won’t bow to this fascism. They have nothing but force,” the HDP leader told a cheering crowd in a defiant tone.
Demirtas’s remarks came two days after Diyarbakir Mayor Gultan Kisanak’s detention, along with another HDP official, Firat Anli. Kisanak is one of the most popular female Kurdish politicians, who gave up her place in the Parliament two years ago to handle Turkey’s largest Kurdish city.
HDP leader said the government has understood that they cannot take over municipalities in Kurdish towns through elections. “Now they want to take our dignity. And we are [fighting] against it.”
In Istanbul, a group of women staged a protest near famed Taksim Square, declaring that Kisanak is their “will,” demanding her immediate release. Kurds across the country staged similar protests against the detentions, which are viewed as a growing crackdown on Kurds.
The government, however, claims that it is fighting against militants linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and calls them terrorists who are bent on separating Turkish territories. Thousands of PKK rebels, members of Turkish security services and civilians were killed since last summer in the latest, and perhaps the most violent, phase of the conflict in the modern past.
The war in Turkey spilled over into Syria in recent months, with Turkish warplanes and artillery pounding bombs on Kurdish militant targets in northern Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claims that the Kurdish YPG militias in Syria are on par with the PKK, which is listed as a terror group by Turkey, the EU and the U.S.