Page last updated at 13:17 GMT, Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Two killed at pro-Kurdish protest


Protesters run after a tank during the clashes

Two people have been shot dead and several wounded during a pro-Kurdish demonstration in south-east Turkey, local media report.

A shopkeeper was detained after opening fire on demonstrators when his shop was attacked, Turkish news agencies said.

The crowd were protesting against the banning of Turkey's main Kurdish party - the Democratic Society Party (DTP).

Turkey's constitutional court last week banned the DTP for having links with Kurdish separatist rebels.

Tuesday's violence in the predominantly Kurdish province of Mus came after days of protests in eastern Turkey against Friday's court decision to ban the DTP.

Local media say a large crowd of demonstrators had attacked shops which were not closed down in solidarity with the banned party.

Nationalist backlash

The DTP, which has 21 MPs, said it would withdraw from Turkey's parliament to protest against the ruling.


The party was the latest in a series of 10 pro-Kurdish parties to be closed down by the Turkish authorities.

The EU, which Turkey hopes to join, expressed concern at the ruling.

Four months ago, Turkey's government promised a new beginning in the state's relationship with its largest minority, the Kurds.

It offered reforms giving the Kurds greater freedom of expression, hoping to cut support for the armed uprising waged by the separatist PKK for the past 25 years.

But there has been a strong nationalist backlash against the initiative, fired up by a series of provocative incidents which culminated in the killing this week of seven soldiers by the PKK.

DTP supporters protest outside parliament
DTP supporters have staged protests outside the Turkish parliament

Hopes for a political settlement to the Kurdish conflict rested to a large extent on the growing co-operation between the government and the DTP, says the BBC's Jonathan Head in Istanbul.

On Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he opposed the banning of the DTP, and called for national unity.

Party leaders have warned the party's closure would only cause greater feelings of frustration and hopelessness within the Kurdish community, our correspondent adds.

Some 40,000 people have died since the outlawed PKK launched an armed campaign in the mainly Kurdish south-east in 1984.

Kurds make up about 20% of Turkey's population of more than 70 million.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU and the US.

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