Turkey Bars Kurdish Demonstration

DIYARBAKIR–Turkey (Reuters)–Turkish authorities have refused the nation’s only legal Kurdish party permission to hold a demonstration in the mainly Kurdish southeast–a local official and the party said on Thursday.

The People’s Democracy Party (HADEP) wanted to hold a rally in support of peace and democracy in the regional capital Diyarbakir next month. It expected to draw up to 60,000 people.

An official told Reuters local authorities had banned the demonstration because they feared disorder.

“We will evaluate the refusal and make a statement later,” said Ali Urkut–head of HADEP’s Diyarbakir branch office.

HADEP enjoys wide support among the Kurdish population in the region and swept to power there in local elections in April. But Turkish officials suspect it of acting as a front for armed Kurdish separatists and the party faces a possible ban.

Three HADEP mayors from the southeast were arrested earlier this year on charges of aiding armed members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

HADEP campaigns for cultural and linguistic rights for Kurds and a negotiated end to the 15 years of conflict between Kurds and Turkish forces that has claimed more than 30,000 lives.

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