Man shot dead in Kurd protests over Turkey poll ban

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey Wed Apr 20, 2011 11:05am EDT

Pro-Kurdish demonstrators throw stones as they clash with police during a protest against the High Election Board's decision in Istanbul April 19, 2011. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

Pro-Kurdish demonstrators throw stones as they clash with police during a protest against the High Election Board's decision in Istanbul April 19, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Osman Orsal

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DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - One protester was shot dead during a second day of clashes between police and demonstrators in southeast Turkey after a dozen Kurdish politicians were barred from contesting a national election.

Police fired water cannons and tear gas on protesters hurling petrol bombs and stones in the city of Diyarbakir, and state-run Anatolian news agency said a 26-year-old man died during clashes in the nearby town of Bismil.

Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) leader Selahattin Demirtas said the man was shot by police.

The BDP has threatened to boycott the June 12 parliamentary poll over the bans, and Demirtas backed out of meeting President Abdullah Gul on Wednesday due to the shooting.

"Today in Bismil police opened fire on protesters and one person was killed. Because of this incident I will not go to the presidential palace," Demirtas was quoted as saying by news channel CNN Turk. "I will tell President Gul by telephone about the brutality here."

Gul had invited Demirtas for talks to defuse tensions that flared on Monday after the High Election Board barred candidates because of criminal convictions, some due to links to militant groups, notably the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

"(President Abdullah Gul) invites everyone to make every kind of legal and political effort to overcome the problem," Gul's chief spokesman Ahmet Sever told Anatolian news agency.

Gul's political ally Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is expected to comfortably win a third successive term. But the ruling AK Party runs second to the BDP in the southeast, despite the prime minister's efforts to improve rights for ethnic Kurds.

Gul held talks with Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Sahin, an AK member, who has called on the election board to reconsider its decision.

The BDP was planning to enter all its 61 candidates in the election as independents to maximize its chances of representation should the party overall win less than the required 10 percent of the vote to enter MPs into parliament.

The candidates' lawyers were seeking court documentation on Wednesday that would show they were eligible after the board said it would consider appeals.

In Diyarbakir, the main Kurdish city, hundreds of protesters took to the streets again on Wednesday. Witnesses saw protesters throw petrol bombs, fireworks and stones at police.

Security forces responded by firing water cannon and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators. Some 30 people were detained.

As a police helicopter flew overhead, some protesters -- their faces covered by scarves -- chanted slogans in support of jailed Kurdish guerrilla leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Ocalan heads the PKK guerrilla group, which launched an armed insurgency against the state in 1984. More than 40,000 people have died in the conflict.

The PKK ended a six-month ceasefire in February, and there have been sporadic clashes.

(Additional reporting by Ece Toksabay; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Louise Ireland)

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