Scores injured as Nevruz protests lead to clashes

Scores injured as Nevruz protests lead to clashes

ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
Scores injured as Nevruz protests lead to clashes

Tension rose during yesterday’s unofficial Nevruz demonstrations in the eastern province of Batman. Independent Mardin deputy Ahmet Türk was rushed to hospital due to an injury sustained during a clash between police and demonstrators. AA photo

Tensions continued to mount across eastern Turkey yesterday, as independent Mardin deputy Ahmet Türk was rushed to hospital due to an injury sustained during a clash between police and demonstrators celebrating the Nevruz Festival, despite official bans. Four police officers were also heavily injured during the demonstrations in Hakkari’s Yüksekova district. 

Chief physician Abdullah Altan Özkaya from the private Dünya Hospital in Batman confirmed to the Hürriyet Daily News that Türk had been injured due to a gas bomb he was exposed to, but denied allegations of battery against the veteran Kurdish politician by police officers. Türk is currently in good condition, he added. 

Türk, who is afflicted with a heart condition, was riding on a bus along with independent Van deputy Aysel Tuğluk, Nursel Aydoğan, the Diyarbakır deputy of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and Batman Deputy Mayor Serhat Temel, as well as other party administrators. The passengers were caught in the middle while riot police were clashing with demonstrators in Nergiz Avenue in Batman and a gas bomb landed inside the vehicle.

Meanwhile, Aysel Tuğluk claimed that Türk was beaten by some 15 police officers after being subjected to pepper gas.

Official celebration cancelled 

Law enforcement officials also seized nearly two kilograms of remote controlled A4 plastic explosives reinforced with metal nails for cluster effect and a timing device near İtfaiye Square, the area designated for Nevruz Festivities in Van. A bomb demolition squad later destroyed the explosives. 

The official celebrations that were planned for today in Diyarbakır have been canceled due to yesterday’s clashes, according to reports.

Meanwhile, in a message on the occasion of Nevruz, President Abdullah Gül called for “everybody to display caution and not to provide opportunity for attempts that could harm the climate of peace and fraternity.” He stressed that “our differences and diversity are our greatest wealth” and that “everybody is an inseparable and equal part of this nation regardless of their ethnic roots, language, faith or political conviction.” 

“We are going to celebrate this meaningful day with our hearts and hands enjoined and cling onto each other tighter than ever,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said.

The Van Governor’s Office also issued a written statement indicating that they had come in possession of intelligence that the followers of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) were planning to undertake demonstrations using rocks and Molotov cocktails under the guise of celebrating Nevruz.

 The celebrations organized by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in Van turned sour when police intervened to stop a group of 30 demonstrators from entering the area designated for the festivities. Law enforcement officials used tear gas against the demonstrators who responded by throwing rocks and later dispersed into the backstreets. 

Clashes also broke out in the southern province of Mersin, where the Governor’s Office had authorized celebrations to be held which the Interior Ministry later revoked. When demonstrators backed by the BDP attempted to enter the field of celebrations, police forces intervened, leading to clashes in the area.

Compiled from Anatolia news agency and Doğan news agency stories by the Daily News staff.

Turkey, newroz, nevruz, politics, idris naim sahin