KHRP Calls for Calm and for Rule of Law to Prevail
KHRP remains extremely concerned by the violent fall-out in the Kurdish region of Turkey in the aftermath of last Friday’s decision by the Constitutional Court to close the pro-Kurdish Demokratik Toplum Partisi (Democratic Society Party, DTP).
In many cities across Turkey, including Istanbul, protestors and DTP buildings have also reportedly come under fire from nationalist extremists, where Kurdish demonstrators were said to have been attacked with guns and knives. Thousands protesting the decision against DTP were also reported to have been arrested by Turkish police, and many are said to have been sent to prison. There are few reports of arrests of the nationalists who are counter-protesting and reportedly carrying out violent acts against the demonstrators.
Another two people were killed and 8 others were wounded yesterday, after a shopkeeper was said to have opened fire on demonstrators attacking his store in the town of Bulanık, in the mainly Kurdish province of Muş. According to reports, the shopkeeper is a village guard. The village guard system was established by the Turkish government in the mid-1980’s to act as a local militia in towns and villages, and has been widely condemned in and outside of Turkey for systematic human rights violations. Throughout the period since major hostilities officially ended, the government has repeatedly stated that it plans to end the system, yet there are between 50,000 to 90,000 village guards currently employed by the State.
The closure decision has sparked growing unrest and came just days after the fatal shooting of 23-year old university student Aydın Erdem, during violent clashes between Turkish police and protestors in the city of Diyarbakır on 6 December.
‘KHRP fears that the latest decision to ban an elected pro-Kurdish party from Parliament and the disproportionate use of force by police against civilians is leading to a downward spiral of violence,’ said Rachel Bernu, KHRP Managing Director. ‘It is absolutely imperative that all sides act within the rule of the law. Protesters—from both sides— must be able to exercise their democratic right to peaceful protest and must refrain from acts of violence and the Turkish authorities too must refrain from responding excessively and indiscriminately and use just measures to bring anyone acting outside of the law to account.’