Tue, Dec 08, 2009 - Page 6 News List

One killed in pro-Kurdish demonstration in Turkey


Police clashed with pro-Kurdish demonstrators denouncing new prison conditions for rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan on Sunday. A 23-year-old university student died in hospital following the clashes, news reports said.

Protesters in the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir hurled stones and fireworks at police and at the local headquarters of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party.

The state-run Anatolia news agency said police responded with pepper gas to disperse the crowds.

The student, Aydin Erdem, died of gunshot wounds in hospital, CNN-Turk and other reports said, but there were no immediate details on how he got shot.

Police also broke up other pro-Kurdish protests in Istanbul and in at least three other cities in the predominantly Kurdish southeast, NTV television said.

At least one police officer was injured, Anatolia said.

Turkey built a new maximum security prison on Ocalan’s prison island and transferred inmates there to end his isolation.

Ocalan has complained about conditions at his new cell, triggering protests by his supporters. The rebel leader said in a statement released by his lawyers last month that his cell was smaller and that he had difficulties breathing.

Turkey denies prison conditions are worse and has invited European anti-torture inspectors to visit his new prison cell.

Turkey built the new prison after the Council of Europe, demanded that Turkey end Ocalan’s solitude, saying his mental state was deteriorating after spending years as the sole inmate of Imrali island, off Istanbul.

Ocalan, 60, is serving a life sentence for leading the PKK’s campaign for autonomy that has led to tens of thousands of deaths since 1984.

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