Kurds Barred from Protesting in Ankara

ANKARA (Reuters)–Authorities in Ankara barred Kurdish demonstrators on Tuesday from gathering in the capital this weekend on a traditional day of protest for the country’s 12 million Kurds–the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Kurdish activists in recent years have commemorated World Peace Day on September 1 by staging protests.

The protests have called for wider rights–including scrapping the ban on Kurdish broadcasting and education–and lifting the death penalty.

Ankara has said it will never negotiate with the PKK and vows to keep fighting until it surrenders or is "neutralized."

The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party HADEP said in a statement it would appeal in court against the Interior Ministry’s ban.

Turkish troops have killed at least five fighters in the mainly Kurdish southeast in an operation to prevent rebels crossing into the country from Iraq–a military official said on Tuesday.

Security forces clashed with Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members Monday and Tuesday while combing the mountains of the southeastern Hakkari province–which borders northern Iraq–the official told Reuters.

The emergency-rule governor’s office–based in the regional capital of Diyarbakir–said three soldiers were wounded after stepping on land mines.

Last week–a soldier and a PKK fighter were killed in separate clashes near Hakkari.

Kurdish television earlier said violence erupted on Saturday in northern Iraq–where Turkish troops regularly pursue rebels. Iraq’s Kurds wrested control of the enclave from Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War and are protected by US warplanes that patrol a no-fly zone over the area.

The official said Monday’s operation took place on the Turkish side of the border to stop the Kurds from entering Turkey.

Some 5,000 Kurds are believed to be based in northern Iraq and Iran’since fighting dramatically dropped off after the capture in 1999 of PKK commander Abdullah Ocalan.

Ocalan–on death row awaiting a European Court of Human Rights ruling on his appeal–has called on his followers to withdraw from Turkey and instead pursue Kurdish cultural rights.

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