Turkey bans 'peace march' on security, traffic concerns
Fireworks fired by protesters staging a rally to denounce the deaths of a July 20 explosion in the Turkish town of Suruç near the Syrian border. explode over Turkish riot police officers, in Istanbul, July 21, 2015. AP Photo/Lefteris PitarakisTurkish authorities on July 25 banned demonstrators from holding a peace march in Istanbul on July 26, citing concerns about "provocative action" and "dense traffic".
The Istanbul governor's office said in a statement it would not allow the march, which organisers had planned for July 26.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu supported the ban in a press conference on July 25. "Nobody has a right to make a call for such a march," he said, stressing that a rally can be hold only in designated venues in the city. "And they have to be peaceful... We can't let them cover their faces with masks, carrying arms," he added.
The Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has hoped to rally thousands for the protest to condemn violence by ISIL jihadists.
The HDP confirmed in a statement that it had been forced to cancel the rally but vowed that "our struggle for peace and democracy will continue."
There are been several anti-ISIL protests in Istanbul and other cities since the July 20 bombing, often gathering hundreds of people. But many have been dispersed by police using water cannon, rubber bullets and tear gas.
It remains possible that protesters will try to defy the official ban and hold a march on July 26.
The Peace Bloc, which organizes the march, had announced that demonstrators would walk from the Tepebaşı neighborhood to the Aksaray district at 4:00 p.m.
Meanwhile, Turkish police fired water cannon and tear gas to disperse about 1,000 demonstrators who had gathered in the capital Ankara on July 25 to protest against military strikes in Syria and northern Iraq, a Reuters cameraman at the scene said.