Tensions in Turkey escalated in late July, when the country launched a military campaign against the PKK in southern Turkey and northern Iraq, after the militants claimed responsibility for the murders of two Turkish police officers.
More than 100,000 people attended an “anti-terrorism” rally in Istanbul Sunday to back President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s controversial offensive against Kurdish rebels, six weeks before snap elections he hopes will boost his powers.
The huge crowd thronged Yenikapi Square on the shores of the Marmara Sea for the demonstration, which was to culminate with an address by Erdogan.
On Thursday, hundreds took half in an analogous rally in the capital Ankara to denounce the PKK, which has killed dozens of police and troopers in a string of assaults in the primarily Kurdish southeast sincefighting resumed in July. “Martyrs never die, the homeland can not be divided”, the headbands read.
Erdogan’s two-month-old offensive against the PKK, who have responded with a ferocity unseen since the 1990s, is viewed with suspicion by his critics. “There is no obstacle for this but this process has unfortunately been torpedoed by the political party in parliament which is backed by the separatist terrorist organization”, Erdoğan said.
The government has accused the HDP of being a front for the PKK, allegations rejected by the party, which also enjoys support among non-Kurds. The group seeks to create a Kurdish state in parts of Turkey and Iraq.
Turkey and the PKK have been locked in a three-decade conflict in which some 40,000 people have been killed.