Kadir Cesur / Gazete Duvar
Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party on Feb. 1 began its “Great Freedom March” in the eastern Van province to demand the release of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan and reinitiation of the peace process.
The police disrupted the first leg of the march, as they barricaded the route and detained participants.
The party held a press conference at a hotel before the march, with party co-chair Tuncay Bakırhan, Democratic Regions Party (DBP) co-chair Keskin Bayındır, DEM Party deputies, and local representatives.
In his speech, Bakırhan emphasized the importance of dialogue and negotiations in solving the Kurdish problem. “The solution is easy,” said Bakırhan and pointed to the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan as the “main negotitant.” The speakers called to end the contact ban imposed on Öcalan.
Police barricades at the hotel entrance were removed upon negotiations, and the crowd began the march. Police drowned out the crowd’s slogans with sirens and announcements saying the march was “unlawful.”
Van'da DEM Parti'nin yürüyüşüne polis engeli: Gözaltılar var pic.twitter.com/EaMT3ieEpR— duvaR (@gazeteduvar) February 1, 2024
Barricades separated the marching crowd with the group waiting to meet them at the Musa Anter Peace Park, and party representatives addressed the crowd to conclude the Van leg of the march. Police detained many participants as the group dispersed.
The protesters will continue the march in Hakkari province on Feb. 2.
(English version by Ayşenaz Toptaş)