PKK statue’s removal triggers attacks on Atatürk busts in southeast
DİYARBAKIR – Doğan News Agency
The removal of a statue of a senior member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has triggered clashes in southeastern Turkey, with protesters targeting busts of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic.
Busts of Atatürk have been attacked by protesters in the southeastern provinces of Hakkari, Batman and Mardin during clashes between security forces and locals. The incident came after clashes in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır over a statute of Mahsum Korkmaz (Egîd), one of the PKK’s founders, which left demonstrator Mehdi Taşkın dead.
A soldier, Uğur İnal, being deployed to the area was also killed in a gun accident.
On the night of Aug. 19, protesters blocked the road and lit a fire in Hakkari, throwing Molotov cocktails at security forces. Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the protesters, while some protesters burnt a burst of Atatürk in the garden of the Hakkari Anatolian High School.
The incidents continued in Hakkari on Aug. 20 with a group of people attempting to throw stones at an Atatürk statue in the city center. The police put armored vehicles around the statue and used tear gas, plastic bullets and water cannon against the protesters.
A bust of the republic’s found was also subjected to an attack in Batman. Unknown people removed it from the garden of the Vali Zeki Şanal Secondary School and fled while others erected barricades in the Yavuz Selim Quarter and lit a fire in the street.
In Mardin, a group of people, including mayors from the Democratic Regions Party (DBP), gathered in the party building on Aug. 19. The group started to march holding pictures of Korkmaz in protest at the removal of the legendary fighter’s statue in Diyarbakır’s Lice district. Police subsequently fired tear gas and deployed water cannon on the group, sparking clashes that continued until the early hours of the day.
Korkmaz’s statue was opened on the anniversary of the first attacks by PKK militants in Hakkari’s Şemdinli district and Siirt’s Eruh district in 1984, in a cemetery that was opened last year in Lice for PKK members. Korkmaz was killed by security forces in 1986.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Diyarbakır lawmaker Nursel Aydoğan and the co-chairs of the DBP, Emine Ayna and Kamuran Yüksek, attended the statue’s opening ceremony on Aug. 16.