Demonstrators, police clash around Turkey in wake of Lice deaths

Demonstrators, police clash around Turkey in wake of Lice deaths

Demonstrators, police clash around Turkey in wake of Lice deaths

Young Kurdish protesters clash with Turkish riot policemen during a demonstration on June 8, in the Bağcılar district of Istanbul. AFP Photo / Ozan Köse

Demonstrators battled police around Istanbul and around the country late June 8 in protest at the Turkish state after soldiers opened fire on locals angered at the construction of new police stations in the southeastern district of Lice, killing two and wounding others.

Ramazan Baran, 26, and Baki Akdemir, 50, both died from gunshot wounds when the military opened fire in Lice.

Clashes continued throughout the night in the flashpoint Istanbul neighborhoods of Gazi and Okmeydanı, where anti-terrorism police staged a dawn raid on June 9 at several addresses in the neighborhood. The raids were the latest incident in the quarter, which has been marked by tension for months, especially after police killed 15-year-old Berkin Elvan during the Gezi protests as well as 30-year-old Uğur Kurt during a funeral last month.

In Gazi, police attacked protesters as they sought to march to the local police station on İsmet Paşa Avenue. Protesters responded with Molotov cocktails and other projectiles during battles that lasted throughout the night into June 9.

There were also violent protests in Ankara’s Tuzluçayır neighborhood, with one protester reportedly suffering broken teeth after being struck by a plastic bullet fired by police.

Protesters in the mostly Alevi neighborhood also allegedly torched a public bus, prompting Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek, to take to Twitter and accuse the “terrorists” of destroying public property.

Gökçek demanded that the residents of the area inform on the protesters. "Residents of Tuzluçayır, the task is now yours: You must give the police the names of these terrorists, one by one," he said. "The state (which is yours) will win its rights by force."

During demonstrations on June 8, right-wing groups allegedly attacked protesters marking the Lice incidents in the central provinces of Sivas and Tokat, with five activists reportedly suffering injuries in Sivas.

Elsewhere on June 8, police also deployed water cannon and tear gas to disperse protesters in Istanbul’s Bağcılar district. Before the police onslaught, one man wearing a T-Shirt with an al-Qaeda symbol was seen brandishing a knife and threatening protesters in front of the police lines, according to posts on social media.

In other areas of the country, there was violence between demonstrators and police in Tunceli (Dersim), Van, Hakkari and Şırnak’s Cizre district and elsewhere. Several more peaceful protests were also conducted around the country.

CHP deputies visit Lice

Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy leader Sezgin Tanrıkulu and CHP Istanbul deputy Melda Onur both traveled to Lice following the incident on a fact-finding mission.

“Live ammunition was used,” Tanrıkulu told Doğan News Agency. “In fact, the firing continued even after one civilian was seen to fall; this resulted in a second death and a serious injury.”

Onur, meanwhile, noted the irony that the government had been conducting a workshop on the peace process in Diyarbakır immediately before the incident in Lice. “The reason for this must be investigated,” she said.