VAN (Combined Sources)–Hundreds of supporters of a pro-Kurdish political party that prosecutors are trying to ban clashed with police Saturday during a party rally in the city of Van.
The clash broke out when members of the Democratic Society Party resisted police attempts to detain three party members. The three chanted slogans in support of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and carried posters with his picture.
Police fired into the air and used tear gas and fire cannon to disperse the protesters.
The demonstration, organized by the DTP, was called as a direct reaction to the opening of a court case Friday to ban the party after it called for Kurdish autonomy in southeast of turkey.
The DTP has 20 members of parliament and is widely regarded as the backbone of cultural and political rights for Turkey’s Kurdish population. Prosecutors say the party is undermining Turkey’s national unity and have accused the DTP of having links with Turkey’s banned Kurdistan Workers Party.
Prosecutors allege the party is linked to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The DTP denies any such claim. Party leaders insist they support a united Turkey and an end to violent conflict, and deny any links to the PKK, which is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the EU.
The legal action comes amid tensions with Iraq over Turkey’s threat to make cross-border attacks on PKK bases. Turkey has recently massed about 100,000 troops on the Iraqi border after its parliament approved calls for a military incursion to deal with the insurgents.