Hundreds of people participated in a protest in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır on Monday, August 19, denouncing the Turkish government's decision to oust the mayors of the cities of Diyarbakır, Mardin, and Van from office over alleged ties to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), replacing them with state officials. Separately, more than 400 people were detained across 29 provinces by security forces on Monday for suspected links to the PKK, which is a designated terrorist organization in Turkey. Police forces used water cannons to disperse protesters gathered outside the municipality headquarters in central Diyarbakır. No casualties were reported.
Similar demonstrations are possible over the coming days and weeks. A heightened security presence and transportation disruptions are to be expected near all gatherings.
Turkey has been faced with a Kurdish insurgency since 1984, spearheaded by the PKK and concentrated in the southeast, with dissidents demanding increased autonomy and an end to the oppression of Kurdish groups within the country. The armed conflict resumed in 2015 following the dissolution of a ceasefire established between the government and the PKK in 2013. The conflict has left over 40,000 people dead since 1984 and associated violence continues to pose a significant security risk in southeastern Turkey.
Individuals in Diyarbakır are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
Due to the ongoing conflict between the Turkish government and the PKK, some Western governments advise against travel to various southeastern areas in Turkey, notably including areas along the Syrian and Iraqi borders.
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