ISTANBUL (Reuters)–Turkish police Wednesday prevented activists calling for an end to the Kurdish conflict in southeast Turkey from holding a news conference in Istanbul.
"We will not allow them to hold a news conference…You are waiting in vain," Istanbul deputy police chief Mehmet Caglar told reporters gathered near a landmark city hotel where the group was set to make a statement.
Several hundred police–backed by an armored vehicle–were deployed near the Pera Palas hotel–in the heart of European Istanbul.
Security forces earlier this week stopped the foreign and Turkish activists from holding a demonstration in the main southeastern city of Diyarbakir and ordered a convoy of seven buses to return to Istanbul.
A rights group official said 16 members of the group were detained on Tuesday evening after their buses were stopped at a police checkpoint outside Istanbul. The Human Rights Association official said those in custody included rights activists and trade unionists.
An official at Switzerland’s Istanbul consulate confirmed reports that two Swiss men–described by newspapers as trade unionists–were among those detained.
The group had previously scrapped a trans-European "peace train," planned by a pro-Kurdish group in Germany–after the Turkish government exerted pressure on Western governmen’s.