Fifty-five people were killed and one hundred and forty-five injured during rioting in the south-eastern Turkish town of Kahraman Maras on Saturday, (23 December).
Fifty-five people were killed and one hundred and forty-five injured during rioting in the south-eastern Turkish town of Kahraman Maras on Saturday, (23 December). IN announcing the death toll Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said that the rioting, one of the worst civil disturbances in the country's recent history, was a dark page in Turkish history. The trouble began when large groups of rightists attacked two districts in the town mainly inhabited by Shi'ite Moslems.
SYNOPSIS: About the same time in Istanbul, heavily armed police had this anti-government demonstration well under control from the start. The message was clear to the demonstrators, unless they made their point peacefully there would be violence.
Political violence has claimed more than six hundred lives in Turkey this year. Prime Minister Ecevit has appealed to all influential people on the left and right to work for peace and prevent sectarian violence.
This demonstration was organised by the left wing Revolutionary Road organisation. It was protesting at general government policy and specifically about government anti-terrorism measures. Mr. Ecevit's left of centre Republican Party has been debating increased police powers, allowing them to search people and homes without warrants. Complaints about inflation were also aired by some protestors.
Inflation rate in Turkey is a major cause of problems. Inflation is currently running at fifty percent a year and the national unemployment rate is about fifteen percent.
This demonstration proved to be non violent but the deaths of fifty people in the south-eastern town of Kahraman Maras, bear out Prime Minister Ecevit's warning to the EEC that Turkey's democratic system could be seriously threatened unless it received urgent outside help for its rapidly deteriorating economy.