ISTANBUL, Turkey — A few dozen protesters held yellow banners emblazoned with “BDP” on an icy day in Turkey’s largest city. Most pedestrians in Taksim, Istanbul’s main shopping district, took little notice of the men wearing dingy dark jackets and women in fringed headscarves and peasant-style skirts.
Hundreds of riot police in body armor surrounded the gathering, two water cannons and tear gas at the ready. Plain-clothed police officers clutching walkie-talkies listened to journalists’ conversations and demanded reporters’ names and information about who they represented.
Judging from the official response, onlookers could be forgiven for thinking that the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) was outlawed and demonstrations against the detention of Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan are illegal.