First Published: 2017-03-19

Turkey furious as Kurds rally in Frankfurt with PKK insignia
Some 30,000 pro-Kurdish demonstrators, many carrying PKK symbols, rallied in Frankfurt calling for 'no' vote in upcoming referendum.
Middle East Online

Kurds living in Germany gather and wave flags with portraits of detained Kurdish PKK Leader Abdullah Ocalan

FRANKFURT - Some 30,000 pro-Kurdish demonstrators rallied in the German city of Frankfurt on Saturday calling for "democracy in Turkey" and urging a "no" vote in an upcoming referendum on expanding Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers.

Turkey angrily denounced the demonstration as "unacceptable". Many demonstrators carried symbols of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has battled the Turkish state for over three decades in a continuing insurgency.

Tensions are already running high between Berlin and Ankara after German authorities refused to allow some Turkish ministers to campaign in the country for a "yes" vote in the April 16 referendum that would hand Erdogan an executive presidency.

Significantly more people turned up than organisers had been expecting for the rally, which took place ahead of the annual Newroz festival when Kurds mark the traditional New Year.

Saturday's protest march in Frankfurt went off peacefully, a police spokesman said.

Some of the participants carried flags and banners of the outlawed PKK, as well as portraits of the group's jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is serving a life sentence in Turkey, calling for his release.

Police said no banners or flags were confiscated so as to not provoke the crowd, but added that photos had been taken which could lead to future prosecutions.

Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in a statement that the presidency "condemned in the strongest terms" the fact that the rally had been allowed to go ahead.

"It is unacceptable to see PKK symbols and slogans... when Turkish ministers and lawmakers are being prevented from meeting their own citizens," he said.

He said the "scandal" of the Frankfurt demonstration showed that some EU countries were actively working in favour of a "no" vote in the critical referendum.

"We once again remind European countries: on April 16 the decision is to be made by the (Turkish nation), not Europe."

"Yesterday, Germany put its name under another scandal," Kalin told CNN-Turk, complaining about the open use of insignia of the "separatist terror group" PKK.

"Yesterday, the German ambassador was invited -- was summoned -- to the foreign ministry and this was condemned in the strongest way."

He said the demonstrators had used the upcoming Kurdish New Year festival of Newroz as a "pretext" for the rally as the new year only falls on Tuesday.

More than 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK launched its insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984.

The group is listed as a terror organisation not just by Turkey but also the European Union and the United States.

The Turkish foreign ministry said in statement that Germany's toleration of a rally with symbols of a group that it itself regards as a terror outfit was the "worst example of double standards".

Erdogan on Monday accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of "supporting terrorists", in a spiralling diplomatic row.

Turkey has long accused Germany of providing refuge to Kurdish and other militants.

A Merkel spokesman described Erdogan's jibe as "clearly absurd".

Erdogan has also accused Germany of "Nazi practices" for blocking his ministers from speaking to Turkish voters resident in Germany.

Germany is home to the largest Turkish diaspora in the world, many of whom are of Kurdish origin.

 

Egypt Christians bury victims with tears, anger

UN says nations bombing IS must protect civilians

Palestinians end mass hunger strike in Israel jails

Probe finds over 100 Mosul civilians killed in US air strike

Syria girls escape war with Snow White

Egypt hits jihadists as IS claims deadly attack on Christians

Britain arrests two more in Manchester attack probe

Turkey charges opposition newspaper staff

Death toll in Tripoli clashes reaches 52

Hundreds of migrants rescued in major operation off Libya

Ramadan in Libya: little cash, much violence

UN braces for up to 200,000 Iraqis to flee Mosul

Iraq forces launch broad attack on IS holdouts in Mosul

Civilians flee IS-held Syria cities after deadly strikes

At least 28 dead in Tripoli clashes

26 killed in attack on Egypt Christians

Turkey identifies 'intelligence weaknesses' before coup attempt

Tunisia opens trial over 2015 beach massacre

Syria army takes control of key road

US-led strikes kill 35 civilians in east Syria

Palestinian president says US should mediate hunger strike

Libya says working closely with Britain over concert attack

EU leaders, Erdogan meet in bid to ease tensions

Myanmar to deport Turkish family wanted for alleged coup links

Iran says it has built third underground missile factory

Trump gets rough ride in EU, NATO meeting

Saudi minister confident on oil output deal

Egyptians brace for austere Ramadan

Qatari FM says country victim of smear campaign, particularly in US

Britain probes jihadist network amid row with US intelligence

Egypt blocks several media websites including Jazeera

IS suicide bomber kills five in Somalia

Israel uneasy over 'crazy' regional arms race

Algeria president replaces Prime Minister

16 civilians dead in coalition strikes near Raqa

4 arrested in Tunisia anti-corruption drive

German MPs call off Turkey visit as tensions fester

Palestinian hunger strike row draws solidarity, controversy

Britain raises terror alert, deploys troops after concert massacre

Qatar probes state news agency hack

At least 20 migrants killed in Mediterranean

Israeli joy at Trump visit lacks substance

Oman evacuates Australian man from Yemen

Bahrain police open fire on Shiite protest, kill five

Turkey arrests hunger strikers on terror charges