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Cablegate: Turkey: Pm Erdogan's Visit to the Southeast Provokes

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ADANA 000043

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: PM ERDOGAN'S VISIT TO THE SOUTHEAST PROVOKES
WEEKEND PROTESTS AND VIOLENCE

ADANA 00000043 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) Summary: Thousands of Kurds turned out to oppose Prime
Minister Erdogan's visit to the southeastern cities of Van and
Hakkari and to protest AKP's lack of movement forward on the
Kurdish issue. Suspension of municipal services such as garbage
collection and public transportation accompanied violent clashes
between rock- and Molotov-throwing demonstrators and law
enforcement wielding tear gas and water cannons. A
DTP-organized sit-in in Diyarbakir drew over 15,000 activists in
two days. With local elections in March, the DTP will likely
continue staging protests to provoke harsh reactions and
"us-against-them" emotions between Turks and Kurds. End summary.

Van Halts Municipal Services, Shops Remain Shuttered, and Mass
Protests Greet the PM

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2. (U) Television images of Erdogan's November 1 visit to Van
showed angry throngs of protesters throwing stones and Molotov
cocktails at what appeared to be outnumbered riot police in
Kurdish-majority neighborhoods of the city. Police responded
with tear gas and water cannons, and by shooting into the air to
disperse the crowds. Protesters set fire to cars and broke
glass windows in area shops. Pro-Kurdish local dailies report
five civilians were wounded in the clashes, one seriously, along
with eight police officers. Our contact at the Van Human Rights
Association reports 51 have been detained by police, and many
protesters who sustained injuries on Saturday are too frightened
to seek medical attention at hospitals for fear of being
arrested. In DTP-held sectors of the city, municipal services
such as garbage collection and mass transit were halted,
according to news sources.

Alleged Percussion Bomb Rocks AKP's Hakkari Province
Headquarters on Eve of PM Visit

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3. (U) Local media report a percussion blast hit AKP party
headquarters the night before PM Erdogan's November 2 visit to
Hakarri province, injuring two passers-by. In advance of his
arrival in Yuksekova district, Jandarma teams reportedly foiled
what nationalist media are calling an "assassination attempt" on
Erdogan's life by seizing over 20 kilograms of explosive
materials, hand grenades, and guns from a suspected PKK hideout.
Security forces took no chances with Erdogan's movement in the
city, creating a perimeter of 200 special-forces troops and
moving him in a Sikorsky helicopter. As in Van, press reports
that over 3,000 pro-Kurdish protesters clashed with police using
rocks and Molotov cocktails. Throngs of protesters chanted
"Murderer Erdogan" in front of shops that were closed in
protest; municipal services were also halted in Hakkari by the
DTP mayor, forcing the governor's office to collect garbage
along the route that Erdogan was to travel. In remarks to the
crowd, Erdogan dismissed allegations of Ocalan's mistreatment in
Imrali prison as "lies" and accused the DTP of manipulating
Kurds for political gain. He also announced that if people
didn't like the country they were living in or the government,
they should get up and leave.

Thousands Support DTP's Two-Day Sit-In Protest in Diyarbakir

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4. (U) On Monday morning DTP parliamentarians, provincial

ADANA 00000043 002.2 OF 002


council members, mayors, as well as 32 NGOs concluded a 48-hour
sit-in organized to call attention to the urgent need for a
solution to the Kurdish issue. The demonstration occurred
without clashes or violent incidents, according to a local
contact. Media reports protesters carried banners in Kurdish
and Turkish reading "Enough is Enough!", "We demand a democratic
solution for the Kurdish issue," and, "The solution does not lie
in [military] operations, but rather in dialogue." Women
wearing traditional Kurdish garb carried flags bearing the
Kurdish colors red, yellow and green; protesters chanted
pro-Ocalan slogans and demanded improved prison conditions for
their leader. This attempt to use civil disobedience may be a
way for the DTP to seek a (flimsy) political cover for the
violence they are encouraging elsewhere.

Comment

-------------

5. (SBU) One Diyarbakir contact told us the tensions in the
southeast are at their highest level since Ocalan's capture in
1999. The DTP feels threatened by the AKP's electoral success
in the region and in the lead-up to the March local elections is
ramping up the protests to provoke harsh reactions by the
security forces thereby feeding social ruptures between Turks
and Kurds. The AKP has been careful in the past to avoid sowing
ethnic divisions, but Erdogan's "love-it-or-leave-it" statement
- while aimed at PKK terrorists - is liable to turn off many
Kurds, who will undoubtedly point out that Kurds were living in
what is now southeast Turkey for centuries before the Turks
arrived.
GREEN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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