They were met with what has become Turkey’s characteristic response to such events: tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets. Around 33 people have been taken into custody, some of whom were reportedly in possession of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and weapons.
The curfew being protested was put in place to aid government forces in their ongoing conflict with the PKK. While government sources argue that the imposition of these 24-hour curfews are necessary to protect citizens as security forces remove barricades and tunnels erected by the terrorist group, some claim that the policy goes too far and constitutes ‘collective punishment’.
Similar curfews were recently lifted in Silopi and Cizre, which has been welcomed by human rights organizations, however there have been widespread reports of civilian casualties and the denial of basic rights such as access to clean water, medical care and food.
Protesters marching today were responding to a call from Democratic People’s Party (HDP) Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş. Speaking at a rally in Diyarbakir on Monday, Demirtaş said, “We do not view a 24-hour war being waged in the center of a city for three months as an ordinary situation. All Diyarbakır residents should rise up in order to lift the blockade in Sur.” He asked the mostly Kurdish residents of Diyarbakir to join together and march toward Sur the following day at 4pm.
Demirtaş’s rallying cry evoked immediate responses from local and national government figures. First to respond was the Diyarbakir’s Governor’s office, which banned all non-permanent residents from entering the province on March 2.
President Erdoğan spoke to Diyarbakir residents on Tuesday morning, urging them to remain in their homes and not to listen to Demirtaş’s words, which he said, “smell like an invitation to terror.”
Erdoğan went further during a press conference in Nigeria when he called on prosecutors to take action against the HDP party leader, saying, “I think the prosecutors have to perform their duties, because nobody has the right to create chaos and disturb the peace in my country.” A probe has since been launched to investigate Demirtaş’s role in the ‘provocation.’