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Provincial governor bans demonstrations in Hatay, Turkey

(BIANET/IFEX) - On 4 September 2012, Hatay provincial Governor Mehmet Celalettin Lekesiz announced that demonstrations and press statements would no longer be permitted in the southern border province.

After meeting with representatives from non-governmental organisations inside his office, the governor said that "de facto, illegal demonstration marches, under the guise of press statements," would no longer be allowed in order to uphold "peace in the province." The governor spoke about a demonstration that took place in Hatay on 1 September and said he felt apprehensive about slogans chanted at the event, including "Antakya off to the streets to chase Al-Qaeda away." Claims that Al-Qaeda militants were among Syrian rebels who took refuge in the province began to surface after the Apaydin Syrian rebel camp captured the public's attention.

"These are extremely alarming [statements that could] damage the social peace in our province in the future," Governor Lekesiz added.

Some 25,000 people, including members of the Labor Party, the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DISK), the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK), the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ODP) and the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB), gathered before the governor's office on 1 September to declare their opposition to an "imperialist intervention in Syria", chanting slogans in Turkish and Arabic.

Members of the Refugees Sub-Commission of the parliamentary Human Rights Commission were scheduled to pay a visit to refugee camps on 5 September, including the controversial Apaydin camp.

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