Hundreds poured out onto the streets in the Aegean province of Kütahya on March 13 in response to allegations that 16 workers involved in a brawl with locals unfurled a banner supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
During the brawl, some demonstrators burned the workers’ tents, while security forces used pepper gas against them and removed 16 workers from the area.
“Some 500 youngsters from [the district of] Emet gathered upon claims these people opened a PKK banner, leading to public indignation in our district. We told the people there was no such thing. Police and gendarmerie units determined these allegations [to be false], according to preliminary examinations,” Kütahya Gov. Kenan Çiftçi said.
The protesters eventually dispersed of their own accord, while security officials removed the 16 construction workers from the area. Four gendarmerie troops were also slightly injured in the incident when demonstrators began hurling stones at the special administrative building where the workers resided.
“We believe in the fraternity of all our regions, whether it be the southeast, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea or the Aegean. We are all conscious of this, including the people of Emet and Kütahya,” Çiftçi said.
The demonstrators also burned the workers’ tents, while security forces used pepper gas against them, according to reports.
The incident began at around 5:30 p.m. when two workers employed in the construction of the Emet Anatolian Teacher High School and a local youth began to quarrel after one of the sides allegedly struck the other with his shoulder.
The quarrel soon turned into a brawl, and the local youth eventually left the scene to enlist support. As the youth and his friends arrived at the special administrative building, other locals also began arriving in response to the claims about the PKK banner.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.