ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Hundreds of Kurds chanted anti-government slogans at the funeral on Saturday of a demonstrator killed by security forces in southeast Turkey, raising fears of violence at weekend protest marches planned around the country.
Turkish security forces killed one person and wounded ten on Friday when they fired on a group protesting against the construction of a new gendarmerie outpost in Kurdish-dominated southeastern Turkey.
The incident, in Kayacik village in Diyarbakir province, appeared to be the most violent in the region since a ceasefire declaration by jailed Kurdish rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan in March in a decades-old conflict between his fighters and the Turkish state, and it risks derailing the nascent peace process.
The mourners in the city of Diyarbakir warned Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to respect the peace process.
“Behave, Erdogan, don’t push us to the mountains!” they chanted, referring to the camps of Ocalan’s Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the mountains of northern Iraq from where they used to attack targets within Turkey.
In a mark of solidarity with the Kurds, Turkish public sector workers joined members of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in a peaceful march through Istanbul on Saturday.
The Kurdish tensions come at a time of increased vigilance and nervousness among Turkish security forces after weeks of unrelated anti-government protests in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities in which four people died and thousands injured.
Erdogan tried on Friday to reassure Turkey’s Kurds that those protests, quelled with water cannons and tear gas, would not harm the peace process in the southeast.
“The peace process was not affected (by these protests)... and our brotherhood grew stronger thanks to our people’s common sense,” he said.
Turkey’s interior ministry said four inspectors would investigate Friday’s incident, which it said had involved up to 250 people attacking the construction site. It said the death resulted from warning shots fired to disperse the crowd.
Writing by Ece Toksabay, editing by Gareth Jones