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Turkey’s Kurdish movement seeks to mobilize street protests

Turkey’s main Kurdish political movement has called for street protests against government oppression but faced a stiff police blockade on the first day of the initiative.
Pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) lawmakers hold placards in Kurdish and Turkish during a protest against a state crackdown, which has seen dozens of lawmakers and mayors jailed over suspected links to militant separatists, in Diyarbakir, Turkey July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Sertac Kayar - RTX3CYCO
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DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — On the morning of July 25, Diyarbakir, the central city of Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, was visibly gripped by commotion. The police had erected barriers around a park in the city and blocked all streets leading to the place. The reason for the extraordinary measures was the parliamentary group meeting that the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Turkey’s main Kurdish political movement, was planning to hold in the park.

The parties’ parliamentary group meetings are normally held in parliament, but the HDP this time opted for outdoors following a decision to take to the streets against the clampdown the party has faced since its landmark electoral success in June 2015. Ankara’s suppression campaign has intensified under the state of emergency since last year’s coup attempt, extending to all oppositional quarters. Hundreds of HDP members, including lawmakers and party leader Selahattin Demirtas, have landed behind bars, while dozens of Kurdish-run local administrations have been handed over to government-appointed trustees.

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