Arrests of intellectuals sparks protest in Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey

Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of the Ankara mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, founder of the secular Turkish state, on Sunday (April 19th) to protest arrests stemming from an alleged plot to topple the country’s Islamic-rooted government.

Demonstrators waved national flags and chanted “Turkey is secular and will remain such!” Professors and students at universities in Ankara were among the protestors.

They organised after police detained the rector and owner of the privately held Baskent University and other intellectuals last week for suspected links to the shadowy Ergenekon group.

In other news, a court in Diyarbakir charged 51 people with membership in a terrorist organisation, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), on Saturday. Police arrested them last Tuesday in Kurd-dominated regions in southeast Turkey.

At the same session, the court decided to release two PKK activists arrested in that same operation. On Friday, police arrested another 60 people in a second operation against alleged PKK members.

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