Kurdish protesters clashed with police on Tuesday near a prison in southeastern Turkey where some inmates are on a hunger strike
About 200 demonstrators were marching behind a large banner that said “political prisoners are our pride, we will not stay silent over the deaths in prison,” when they encountered a squad of armored Turkish riot police blocking the road, reported CNN. The protesters expected trouble, as they were marching without a government permit. Police used water cannons and tear gas to try to stop the protesters, who in return threw stones and firebombs.
According to the Associated Press, shops were closed and many families did not send their children to school because of calls for a boycott.
Around 900 people, most of them imprisoned in more than 50 jails, have been on hunger strike for the past 49 days because of increasing violence between Turkish police and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by the US and the EU, reported Reuters. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called Kurdish leaders hypocritical for ordering jailed militants to go on the hunger strike while they feasted on kebabs.
During his first public comments regarding the hunger strike, Erdogan said the protesters were being manipulated by “merchants of death,” referring to PKK leadership and its political allies.
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“As if the cruelty they commit outside isn't enough, the terrorist organization and groups under its control are now turning to the prisons. It is instructing sympathizers in prison to (join) a death fast to achieve its political demands,” he said. “We will not be coerced by hunger strikes.”