Turkish police blocked a march organised by pro-Kurdish opposition lawmakers in Istanbul on Monday, February 11th. The march was in support of a hunger-striking female MP who was released from prison last month, AFP reported.
AFP journalists said that dozens of security officers carrying anti-riot shields circled about 40 MPs and activists from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) to prevent them from walking down Istiklal Avenue, in the heart of the city.
AFP added that the participants were attempting to protest in support of HDP lawmaker, Leyla Guven, who has been on hunger strike for nearly a hundred days, calling for improvements in the prison conditions of Kurdish militant leader, Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Guven, 55, was jailed last year for criticising Turkey's offensive in northern Syria. She was released last month, but her supporters remain worried about her health, as she continues to subsist on only sugared or salted water in an effort to pressure the Turkish authorities to allow Ocalan to hold regular meetings with his family members and lawyers.
While he was participating on the march, HDP co-leader, Sezai Temelli, said: "We are here to join our voices with Leyla Guven, to lend our strength to her fight".
Protesters wearing vests bearing images of Guven tried unsuccessfully to push against the wall of police shields. After a short sit-in, they dispersed.
Ocalan, who was arrested 20 years ago, is serving a life sentence on Imrali island, close to Istanbul.
The PKK is classified as a terrorist group by Ankara, the European Union and the United States.