At least two protesters died June 7 from gunshot wounds sustained during intense clashes with soldiers in Diyarbakır's Lice district, where demonstrations against the construction of a gendarmerie posts have been continuing for nearly two weeks, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
Ramazan Baran, 24, and Abdulbaki Akdemir, 50, died after being transferred to the hospitals following a gendarmerie attack on a road block, officials and medics confirmed. Three people, including two soldiers, were also hospitalized.
Witnesses said Turkish soldiers fired live bullets during the clashes, while demonstrators hurled stones and fireworks at security forces. The Turkish army claimed in a statement that protesters also opened fire, while Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Diyarbakır MP Nursel Aydogan said two other people, including a woman in her 50s, were also killed after security forces fired with live ammunition into a crowd of protesters.
Widespread protests were staged across eastern and southeastern Turkey with the support of the major Kurdish party, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), a youth organization linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) across the construction of security posts. There were also protests in the flashpoint Istanbul neighborhoods of Gazi and Okmeydanı. Late last month, police shot and killed a man attending a funeral in the latter neighborhood.
Government plans to tighten the grip of security officials in the southeast is seen as a major threat to the peace process launched in January 2013.
The incident comes as Ankara was considering new legal amendments to give new momentum to the stalled peace process. However, the government has repeatedly refused to step back from the construction of gendarmerie posts, a policy that has caused much tension for over a year as the BDP has repeatedly voiced its opposition.
A young demonstrator, Medeni Yildırim, was killed by a soldier during a protest against the construction of a similar gendarmerie post in Lice last June during the nationwide Gezi protests. Yıldırım has been immortalized as one of the eight youths to fall during the Gezi crackdown.
The deaths in Lice triggered fresh protests in the region, including Shırnak and Tunceli (Dersim).
The protests come as the political debate over children allegedly kidnapped by the PKK has deepened, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan calling on Kurdish lawmakers to obtain their release and threatening the use of "other methods" if they fail to do so.