Demonstrator who removed Turkish flag from mast in Diyarbakır is '16 years old'
Nuray Babacan ANKARA
This photo taken on June 8, at a Turkish army air base in Diyarbakir, eastern Turkey, shows a masked Kurdish protestor pulling down a Turkish flag. AFP Photo / İlyas AkenginInterior Minister Efkan Ala has said the demonstrator who removed the Turkish flag from a mast inside an Air Force base in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır was 16 years old.
In a meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Cabinet ministers on June 10, Ala claimed the demonstrator had been deliberately chosen because he was underage, adding that the group behind the attack was expecting the Turkish security forces to respond aggressively by shooting and killing the boy. He said those who planned the attack were expecting to use this event as a catalyst to block roads and enable drug trafficking, and to prevent the construction of new military posts in the region.
The tension began around 20 days ago when a group of people in the Lice district of Diyarbakır blocked the roads, in protest over the construction of a security post in the area.
Clashes then took place between the group and the security forces who attempted to open the road.
However, Ala denied that the reason for the roadblocks was the construction of the military posts, claiming that they instead aimed at opening drug trafficking routes in the region.
A masked demonstrator was photographed climbing a flagpole in the 2nd Air Force Command in Lice on June 8, after jumping over the surrounding walls following protests after the burial of a demonstrator who was killed by Turkish soldiers.
Since the photo spread, the rhetoric concerning the incident has toughened and the military has come under fire for not intervening to prevent the protester from removing the flag.