The clash occurred in front of a courthouse in Diyarbakir, the country’s southeast, where about 150 suspects are standing trial for alleged links with the Kurdistan Communities Union, or KCK, the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.
The city’s central Elazig Avenue became covered in a cloud of white, eye-burning smoke after green and red flares exploded and police forces fired tear gas at the protesters.
The gathering organized by pro-Kurdish groups in support of the defendants was initially peaceful with a crowd that included children and grandmothers. People were dancing, chanting slogans and listening to speeches, according to the newspaper.
After the march started, small-scale tension between police and some groups of protesters heightened. Later, pedestrians, journalists, and police took shelter in a nearby market after tear gas was fired. Protesters hurled stones, fireworks and Molotov cocktails at police, injuring several officers, the Dogan news agency reported.
Clashes also broke out in other cities. By late Thursday afternoon the area around the courthouse was calmer but crowded with police and protesters while waiting for the court hearing to conclude for the day.
The trial includes a dozen of mayors and other local politicians charged for having ties to Kurdish rebels and challenging Turkey’s unity. More than 100 defendants have been under arrest for a period of around 1.5 years.
Protesters outside the courthouse also objected to the accused not being allowed to defend themselves in Kurdish.
The PKK has been fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey and the recognition of the Kurdish language. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union