ANKARA (ANATOLIA)–Prosecutors on Wednesday launched an investigation into a speech made by the leader of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) in which he denounced the government’s policy regarding the Kurdish issue, describing it as “cultural and societal genocide,” the Anatolia news agency reported.
In his speech on Tuesday, Turk said that since the military coup of 1980, the Kurds had suffered a "cultural and societal genocide."
"The policy of denial, assimilation and eradication has affected people. Only the Kurds resisted. They still resist," DTP leader Ahmet Turk told supporters in the south-eastern city of Diyarbakir.
The speech came after days of protests in south-eastern cities where Kurds, angry at reports that Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan had been mistreated in prison, have held running battles with police.
Hundreds have been arrested after clashes in various towns in the pre-dominantly Kurdish-populated south-east.
Turkish authorities have denied that Ocalan, the sole inmate of a prison on the Marmara Sea island of Imrali, has suffered any mistreatment, but have resisted calls from Kurdish leaders such as Turk for an independent group to visit the PKK leader.
In his speech, the DTP leader also referred to Ocalan with the title "honorable," a term that prosecutors have cited in the past to justify charges of "spreading terrorist propaganda."
Ankara blames the PKK for the deaths of more than 35,000 people since the 1980s when the group began its struggle for self determination for Turkey’s oppressed Kurds.
PKK founder Ocalan was arrested in 1999 and is serving a life sentence after being found guilty of treason.
According to the Turkish military there are 4,000 to 5,000 PKK freedom fighters based mainly in mountainous northern Iraq from where they cross the border to launch attacks on targets inside Turkey.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.