ISTANBUL: Thousands of people from Turkey’s minority Alevi community yesterday held protests over the deaths of two people during a police crackdown on demonstrators earlier in the week.
Protestors flocked to rallies in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir to call for an end to discrimination after two men were caught up in clashes between police and protesters in a predominantly Alevi district on Thursday and killed.
Turkey has launched an investigation into the deaths of the two men, who were not among the demonstrators. The Alevi community follows a moderate form of Islam and makes up around a quarter of Turkey’s 76 million citizens.
“Alevis know the culprits of the attacks against our fellow Alevis,” said Dogan Demir, the head of the Alevi Cultural Associations, in Istanbul. “We warn the government: Get your hands off Alevis.”
Several hundred protestors, including lawmakers, musicians and actors, shouted “murderer state will be held accountable,” as they marched through the streets of Istanbul. Ugur Kurt, 30, died from gunshot wounds to the head during an Alevi funeral while Ayhan Yilmaz, 42, was hit by a hand grenade during clashes.
The deaths came with tensions high ahead of the first anniversary of deadly anti-government protests and in the wake of a mine disaster that claimed 301 lives last week. The renewed anger is a fresh headache for Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is preparing to run for the presidency in August but has been hit by corruption allegations.AFP