ISTANBUL, April 19 (Xinhua) -- Protesters angered by the election ban on 12 independent candidates, took to the streets in Turkish cities of Istanbul, Diyabakir, Van and Hakkari on Tuesday, drawing a harsh response from the police.
In Istanbul, about 2,000 Kurdish people gathered on the Taksim square around noon to protest the barring of several Kurdish politicians from upcoming elections. The police used tear gas to disperse the protesters. A number of people were reported wounded in the clashes, including one police officer.
The protests erupted after the Supreme Election Board issued a decision late Monday, disqualifying 12 candidates from the June 12 elections based on past convictions and legal technicalities, among whom seven were backed by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).
In Diyarbakir, clashes broke out in front of the courthouse where a group had gathered to protest against the ongoing trial of the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Many were wounded during the clashes and transferred to hospitals. A 15-year-old protester named Remzi Cali was shot and wounded by the police, according to the pro-Kurdish Firat News Agency, which sympathized with the BDP and often carries announcements by the PKK.
According to the semi-official Anatolia news agency, many buildings and vehicles were damaged in the conflict, including the municipality building, and the police confiscated a backpack full of Molotov cocktails.
In Van and Hakkari, stores were shuttered in protest of the decision.
BDP-led protests in the streets of Van also drew police intervention, leading to clashes between the two parties. Protesters threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the police, who responded with tear gas and pressurized water. Gendarmerie forces were sent to the city as the conflict spread. Deputy candidate Aysel Tugluk and Van Mayor Bekir Kaya were allegedly battered by the police, according to local news sources.
Similar clashes and injuries were also reported in Mersin province and Sirnak's Cizre district.