Over 10 injured in Diyarbakır demo in reaction to Yüksekova protesters’ death

Over 10 injured in Diyarbakır demo in reaction to Yüksekova protesters’ death

DİYARBAKIR – Doğan News Agency
Over 10 injured in Diyarbakır demo in reaction to Yüksekova protesters’ death

A protester falls to the ground as Turkish riot police use water cannons to disperse a demonstration in Diyarbakir on Dec. 8. The protest comes a day after the funerals of 34 year-old Veysel İşbilir and 32 year-old Mehmet Reşit İşbilir in the Yüksekova district in the province of Hakkari who died during a police crackdown on a demonstration. AFP photo

At least 10 people sustained injuries in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır today after a police crackdown on a protest organized by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) to denounce the death of two demonstrators in the eastern province of Hakkari two days earlier.

The march began under extreme tension at the BDP’s Diyarbakır headquarters as police initially refused to give permission to the march on the grounds that some of the banners were illegal and that some people were wearing scarfs obscuring their face.

The group marched up to Turgut Özal Boulevard after the protesters in question left the group. Gültan Kışanak, the BDP’s co-chair and a candidate for Diyarbakır mayor in upcoming local elections, made a press statement, describing the reported desecration of graves belonging to members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Yüksekova as “provocative.”

On Dec. 6, allegations that the graves had been vandalized triggered a spontaneous protest in Yüksekova’s town center, during which two men, Veysel İşbilir, 34, and his nephew, Mehmet Reşit İşbilir, 32, sustained severe injuries, allegedly caused by police bullets, before succumbing to their injuries hospital. 

Tensions following the press statement in Diyarbakır resulted in a police crackdown on protesters. At least 10 people, including four security officers and a journalist, were injured as police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowd. Police also chased protesters on the streets adjacent to Turgut Özal Boulevard. Many protesters were also detained, daily Hürriyet reported. 

On Dec. 7, the BDP’s other co-chair, Selahattin Demirtaş, attended the funeral of the two demonstrators, while denying a Hakkari Governor’s Office statement that accused both of the deceased of carrying weapons. Demirtaş also demanded that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan apologize for the incident.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy head Sezgin Tanrıkulu also reacted very strongly to the incident, saying protesters had been “summarily executed” at the hands of the police. 

All parties expressed deep concerns on the effect of the incident on the ongoing Kurdish peace process. Erdoğan however, argued on Dec. 7 that the incidents were the result of “provocations.” “They are some people who want to create trouble in Hakkari. They attack public buildings, attempt to occupy a student dormitory. These don’t care about loving the country,” Erdoğan said. 

The Hakkari Governor’s Office confirmed the deaths on Dec. 6, but claimed that a group of “25-30 people wearing masks” attacked the police with handmade explosives and fireworks, adding that people with weapons opened fire on security officers. The police, who launched an investigation following the incident, alleged that both demonstrators were holding weapons when they were shot.

An autopsy showed that Mehmet Reşit İşbilir was shot six times, while Veysel İşbilir was shot twice.