Government removes PKK road block as debate heats up
DİYARBAKIR – Doğan News Agency
AA PhotoTurkish security forces have removed roadblocks that were installed by supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in a rural area of Diyarbakır to protest the construction of police stations.
The uncertainty about the kids reportedly abducted by the PKK adds to the political tensions.
Gendarmerie and special forces launched an operation against the PKK supporters who had blocked the main road between the provinces of Diyarbakır and Bingöl since last week.
Some 100 armored vehicles were dispatched to Fisovası, located in the Lice district, as part of an operation against a pro-PKK group who dug ditches to block the road in protest at military operations and the ongoing construction of police posts in the region.
Clashes erupted when the group threw fireworks and hand-made explosives at security forces, who responded with tear gas. The group also set three vehicles alight.
Gunshots were heard at the scene, though the press has not been allowed into the area. The road was closed to traffic due to the operation. The Diyarbakır Governor’s Office said in a statement that illegal groups under the influence of the PKK had been attempting to block the roads between Diyarbakır and Bingöl and Diyarbakır and Muş since May 24.
Meanwhile, the Turkish General Staff said in a statement that a group linked to the PKK has kidnapped five workers from an electricity and telecommunications company in the Arıklı village of Lice. “Three workers from the Diyarbakır Electricity Firm were kidnapped late May 28 and two workers from a GSM company were kidnapped early May 29. The two workers from the GSM firm were released later while three workers are being kept by the kidnappers,” said the Turkish General Staff in a statement on May 30.
The statement said the security forces’ operation against the road block was designed to provide “the right to free travel” for citizens. The tension has heated up at a time when a small group has been staging a sit-in protest in the city center of Diyarbakır to demand that the PKK release their children, who recently joined the PKK. The protest started with three mothers who wanted the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) to mediate the release of their children, who are high school students. The number of the families has now increased to 72.
Children in mountains
They have announced that they will hold their protest until June 1, but on May 30, they announced a one-day break to their protest “to allow both sides to move on the issue.” Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) deputy parliamentary group head İdris Baluken, however, said the PKK did not “kidnap” children. “There is no such phenomenon as ‘children kidnapped by the PKK.’ On the contrary, there is the reality of children who flee state terror,” he said in a press conference in Parliament on May 29 over the families’ protests.
“We have to seriously question the conditions which make the children to go to the mountains [to join the PKK] and what the politicians have done so far to remove these conditions,” he added. Baluken also denied reports that the children were forcefully taken to the mountains, adding that all such children leave their homes of their own free will. Baluken’s remarks came amid public pressure fuelled by a call from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on May 27. “Hey BDP, HDP, where are you?” Erdoğan said, addressing a parliamentary group meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). “Well, sometimes you go [to Kandil], make agreements, take news and bring it back. Go and get these children, too. If you don’t, we will operate using our plan B and plan C,” Erdoğan said May 27.
Meanwhile Diyarbakır Metropolitan Co-Mayor Gültan Kışanak said she was dreaming of the days when young people in the mountains will return home as members of a free people in a free country. “It is the dream of our lives that these young people will return to their homes and families as members of a free people in a free country,” said Kışanak at a conference in Diyarbakır. Meanwhile, Mehmet Uğurtay, a village guard, was shot dead in the southeastern province of Mardin on May 28.