Turkey Tensions Heightened As Forces Clash With Kurds In New Round Of Protests

By @AlexCKaufman on

Turkish Kurdish people hold pictures of their relatives who were killed in clashes between Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) guerrillas and Turkish security forces, during a demonstration in central Istanbul June 8, 2013. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the separatist conflict in southeast Turkey since the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) took up arms against the state in 1984.

REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Turkey’s protests may have just gotten a lot worse.

The Peace and Democracy Party, the country’s main pro-Kurdish group, called for marches on Friday in three major cities, in hopes of sparking a summer of protests that would force Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government into peace talks with Kurdish militants, Reuters reported. A leading Turkish economic commentator told International Business Times earlier this month that if demonstrations last through the summer, it could spell economic ruin for the country.

Turkish forces killed one person and wounded at least seven on Friday, when they fired on demonstrators protesting the construction of a new gendarmerie outpost in the mostly-Kurdish southeast, according to another Reuters report. It was not immediately clear why the protesters opposed the new outpost.

However, the festering tensions between Turkey and its Kurds have simmered over the last month as anti-government protesters filled the streets of Istanbul and Ankara. A commander of the northern Iraq-based Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, militants threatened to break off peace talks and join the protesters. Erdogan made some concessions, announcing a series of reforms, including improved prison conditions for the group’s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan, the Economist reported.

But, as the Peace and Democracy Party urged the government to scrap new military posts in the southeast, more than 200 protesters marched on a construction site, throwing petrol bombs and setting fire to workers’ tents, the local governor told Reuters.

The conflict between Ankara and the PKK has killed at least 40,000. 

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