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Turkish police, protesters clash in southeast as new curfews declared

By Seyhmus Cakan

Turkish police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse a protest against a security crackdown in the main southeastern city of Diyarbakir on Monday, witnesses said, while curfews were declared elsewhere in the region

After a ceasefire collapsed in July, Ankara has imposed round-the-clock curfews in many areas.

The latest clashes began as hundreds gathered for a march called by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to demonstrate against a nearly two-week-long curfew in the city’s historic district of Sur.

Protesters lobbed stones at the police. Shopkeepers shuttered their stores ahead of the protest, which the government said was banned. Few buses were operating in the city and rubbish has not been collected.

In Sirnak province, the governor imposed a curfew in two towns near the borders of both Syria and Iraq from Monday night, a day after teachers were seen streaming out of the area on the orders of education authorities.

The towns of Cizre and Silopi were under tight security, with police armoured vehicles stationed at the entrances to both, witnesses said.

“A curfew is declared to neutralise separatist terror group members, remove explosives-laden barricades and ditches … and secure public order,” the Sirnak governor’s office said in a statement. It said the curfew would begin at 11 p.m. (2100 GMT).

On Sunday, teachers were spotted lugging suitcases along roads to bus stations or seeking to hitch-hike with passing vehicles.

Witnesses said local teachers had received an SMS message instructing them to return to their home provinces for training between Dec. 14-16. Turkish teachers are often posted on assignments away from home.

Locals, anticipating that the teachers were being recalled ahead of a curfew, formed queues at bakeries and shops to buy food, witnesses said. Several thousand teachers are based in the towns.

According to data compiled by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, 52 curfews have been imposed since mid-August across seven Turkish provinces in the region, affecting areas where some 1.3 million people live.

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group launched its insurgency in 1984 and more than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict. It is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union.

 

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