For several days, local shopkeepers in the Kurdish-majority province of Hakkari in the southeast of Turkey have kept their shops shut in protest of operations against the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP).
Protests against detentions and arrests
More than 250 people are said to have been detained, and around 80 arrested in police operations against the DTP, mostly in Diyarbakır, but also in other provinces.
Yesterday (23 April) two groups of arond 50 people formed road barricades in the Bağlar neighbourhood of Hakkari city, burning tyres and obstructing the traffic.
Riot police teams intervened with tear gas and water cannons to disperse the group, but they replied by throwing stones.
When many more riot police officers were sent to the area, the people scattered into side streets.
The police sometimes fired warning shots into the air.
One scene that was repeated on TV screens at night was that of a riot police officer running after a 17-year-old child, S.T., catching up with him and brutally beating his head and upper body with his rifle butt.
The child was taken first to Hakkari state hospital and then to Van University hospital. His condition was initially very serious.
His uncle, Hızır Turan, has said that he can now eat and that he is improving. The doctors have diagnosed a crack in the child's scull and bleading. Turan added that the child's father had also sustained a head injury, but that he was well.
He will remain under observation another ten days before being operated on.
Three other people were injured in the events.
Hakkari province governor Muammer Türker said that he was saddened by the events that took place on 23 April, National Sovereignty and Children’s Day.
He said that one person had a head injury, one had been affected by the gas, and one had slipped in the water when running away from the police.
He added, “These events make all of the Hakkari people uncomfortable. We hope this will not happen again.”
Four people were detained after the protests.
An official statement said:
“With sorrow we state that during illegal protests and stone-throwing at our security forces in several neighbourhoods of our province capital around lunchtime on 23 April 2009, a security officer acted impulsively and injured a citizen during struggles near the Merzan neighbourhood. The officer in question has been suspended and an investigation has been started.”
Last night, when news about the meeting emerged, no one yet knew that another child died after the riots.
14-year-old A.E. was running away from the police, who were spraying tear gas and using truncheons. He fell into a river bed and hit his head on a stone. He was taken to hospital and lost his life last night (23 April).
İsmail Akbulut, head of the Hakkari branch of the Human Rights Association (İHD) told bianet that the family was distraught. "His father earns his living as a village guard. The family's financial sitiuation is not good."
According to Hakkari journalist Erkan Çapraz, tensions are still high in Hakkari.
"Shop keepers are still keeping their shops closed. After the events yesterday, there were electricity cuts in the whole city at 6 pm, and they are still continuing. People here have still not watched coverage on the child that was beaten. There is also no Internet connection. Hakkari has still not found out what happened to its children." (EZÖ/AG)