Turkish police disperse protests

Published June 5th, 2014 - 06:17 GMT

Turkish security forces have fired tear gas and used water cannons to put an end to a protest by supporters of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Wednesday’s clashes occurred in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir, which has been a scene of protests for the past 12 days.

The demonstrators were demanding the release of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Ocalan, who was captured by Turkish security forces in the Kenyan capital Nairobi in 1999, is serving a life sentence at Imrali Island prison on charges of leading the PKK in its armed campaign against Ankara.

The protest came as the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is holding peace talks with the PKK to end a 30-year conflict.

In March, Ocalan declared a historic ceasefire after months of negotiations with the Turkish government. In return, the PKK demanded amendments to the penal code and electoral laws as well as the right to education in the Kurdish language and a degree of regional autonomy.

The PKK has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region in southeastern Turkey since the 1980s. The conflict has left tens of thousands of people dead.

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