Kurdish pro-democracy march in Germany

Published March 19th, 2017 - 08:00 GMT
The PYD's armed wing, the YPG, is the main United States ally in the war against Islamic State in Syria, but Turkey also views this organization as a terrorist group. (File/Photo)
The PYD's armed wing, the YPG, is the main United States ally in the war against Islamic State in Syria, but Turkey also views this organization as a terrorist group. (File/Photo)

Several thousand members of Germany's Kurdish community attended a pro-democracy demonstration in the city of Frankfurt on Saturday in response to recent political developments in Turkey.

Under the slogan "No to dictatorship - Yes to democracy and freedom," protesters marched through the streets in two groups, starting from the city centre.

The event comes one month ahead of a constitutional referendum in Turkey which the government in Ankara hopes will greatly empower the office of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Organizers expected up to 20,000 people to attend a central rally marking the Newroz Kurdish New Year celebrations.

Some demonstrators also carried flags featuring Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), with which Turkish troops are embroiled in a long-running conflict in the country's south-east.

Kurds make up about 15 per cent of Turkey's population and often denounce what they see as systemic discrimination by the state.

Police in Frankfurt several times asked the protestors to stop displaying the Ocalan flags. When this was not done, the police announced they would make video recordings. 

Turkey's Foreign Ministry issued a condemnation of the rally, noting in a statement that the event included "symbols of the PKK terrorist organization and images of the chief terrorist."

It went on to say there have been bans on Turkish government ministers holding rallies in Germany, calling it a "double standard."

"We condemn this insincere approach," the statement said, adding that a message was conveyed to the German ambassador. 

The leader of the Syrian Kurdish PYD party, Salih Muslim, attended the event.

The PYD's armed wing, the YPG, is the main United States ally in the war against Islamic State in Syria, but Turkey also views this organization as a terrorist group. 

The PKK has been banned in Germany as a terrorist organisation since 1993. Germany recently introduced new measures to ban PKK symbols.

Erdogan recently accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of supporting terrorists and she is one of a handful of European leaders who have recently incurred Ankara's wrath in a dispute over bans on Turkish ministers organizing rallies abroad.

Erdogan has dubbed Merkel and the Dutch government "fascists" and accused them of engaging in "Nazi practices" after both Germany and the Netherlands prevented campaign events for expatriate voters ahead of Turkey's referendum.

Erdogan has also accused Deniz Yucel, a correspondent for Germany's Die Welt newspaper currently detained in Turkey, of being a PKK member.

 

© 2021 dpa GmbH

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