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    Tensions remain high asTurkish PM pays visit to southeastern provinces

    HotNewsTurkey with wires
    20.10.2008 - 12:51 | Son Güncelleme:

    The tension remains high in Turkey's southeastern provinces after street protests erupted on rumors of ill treatment of the jailed leader of the terror organization, as the prime minister visited the region Monday. (UPDATED)

    Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan Monday attended the opening ceremony of Dicle University in Diyarbakir, a mainly Kurdish province. He would later pay a visit to the regional office of his Justice and Development Party (AKP).

    Erdogan arrived amid protests from locals as shopkeepers’ close-up shop, a common form of non-violent protest in the region.

    Tensions rose in the region after some deputies from the pro-Kurdish Democratic Nation Party (DTP) claimed that Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the terror organization PKK, has been mistreated in Imrali prison, where he is serving a life sentence.

    The government has denied the allegations.

    "We ordered an investigation," Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin said Monday. "He has not been mistreated, he has not been subjected to any kind of negative treatment, he was not tortured," Sahin said.

    Mass demonstrations were held at the weekend across the country’s southeastern provinces including Hakkari, Diyarbakir, Batman, as well as Mersin.

    Protestors clashed with security forces after masked protestors provoked the demonstrators by hurling stones and Molotov cocktails at police.

    One person was killed during a rally organized by the DTP in clashes between police protestors in the Dogubeyazit district of Agri province, Dogan News Agency (DHA) reported on Monday.

    The unidentified protestor, who was injured in the clash, later died in hospital, DHA reported. Some 20 others were also injured, it added.

    PM BLAMES PKK
    Erdogan blamed the violence on the PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, saying the terrorists sought "to sabotage" government efforts to boost the rights and prosperity of the Kurdish community.

    "Despite all the provocations of the terrorist organization, Turkey will make concessions neither from security nor freedoms and human rights," he said in a speech at Dicle University.

    "We will concede neither security nor democracy nor human rights. We will not stop infrastructure investments in the region," he said.

    "In this country, every culture, be it Turkish, Kurdish, Bosnian, Georgian, adds to our common richness, no matter which ethnic root it comes from," Erdogan said.

    "Turkey's European Union process is continuing," he said, referring to the country's bid to join the European bloc, which has resulted in broader Kurdish cultural freedoms.

    Erdogan assured the public TRT broadcaster would soon launch a special Kurdish-language channel, a government pledge since March.

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