Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) supporters are set to protest in several cities on Wednesday, August 21, to denounce the ousting of mayors in Diyarbakır, Mardin, and Van due to terrorist charges. Protests are expected nationwide, particularly in Diyarbakır, Mardin, Van, and Istanbul, mainly in the vicinity of municipal buildings.
A heightened security presence, along with traffic disruptions, are to be expected in the vicinity of all protests. Clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.
Hundreds of people participated in a protest in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır 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 the same day 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. Similar protests took place in in Istanbul and Mardin on August 20.
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 Turkey are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests as a precaution, prepare for associated disruptions, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
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