Originally, only 7,000 participants were expected: A demonstration against Turkey’s actions in the Kurdish regions took place in Dusseldorf on Saturday.
Very present: the likeness of PKK leader Abdullah ocalan is emblazoned on many flags of the demo in Dusseldorf. Photo: dpa
Some 15,000 Kurds demonstrated in Dusseldorf on Boxing Day against the Turkish military’s offensive against the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. Originally, only about 7,000 participants had been expected to attend the march near the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia. "Everything peaceful," a police spokesman said Saturday on the sidelines of the rally.
According to a police spokesman, the demonstrators gathered in front of the DGB building and moved to the square in front of the state parliament, where the final rally was held in the afternoon. The criticism of the demonstrators was also directed against Germany and the European Union (EU). The EU was "making a deal with Turkey on the refugee issue," they accused. In exchange for Ankara’s pledges to take in refugees, the EU should remain silent about the Turkish army’s actions against Kurds, they said.
At least 200,000 people from areas of eastern and southeastern Turkey are currently fleeing "state terror," a spokesman said. Their towns have been besieged by the Turkish army for months, he said. People were being murdered, houses were being shelled and water, electricity and telephone lines were being cut.
The demonstrators demanded an end to the violence in Turkey’s Kurdish areas and the preservation of self-governing structures. In addition, they again demanded the abolition of the PKK ban and the release of PKK Chairman Abdullah ocalan. Turkey and the EU classify the PKK as a terrorist organization. It has been banned in Germany since 1993.
Among others, the European Council for Peace and Democracy "Abdem", the Democratic Social Center of the Kurds in Germany and the Kurdish Women’s Movement in Europe had called for the demonstration.
The demonstration led through the empty city center of Dusseldorf. Many participants carried photos of the head of the PKK, Abdullah ocalan, who is imprisoned in Turkey. Local residents protested the noisy demonstration on the holiday with an unusual banner: "Hello you Kurds – you are welcome, but we find it rude + disrespectful that you are demonstrating today," it read. Demonstrators had also arrived from neighboring countries.
The Turkish army had launched a new major offensive against the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in mid-December. Kurdish insurgents had begun a struggle for greater autonomy rights in southeastern Turkey in 1984. The conflict between the government in Ankara and the PKK escalated again in June, and the peace process initiated three years ago came to a standstill. Some 45,000 people have been killed in the conflict over the past 30 years.