Monday, 29 November 2021 05:59 GMT

Police disperse Cologne protest against Turkish offensive


(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Cologne police have broken up a protest by thousands of Kurds demonstrating Turkey's military offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
The intervention came after demonstrators refused police demands to stop waving flags containing banned symbols, a police spokeswoman said.
Flags of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), outlawed in Turkey and considered a terrorist group by the European Union, were among the forbidden items seen at the march, as well as images of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.
A large amount of forbidden material was seized and two people were detained, police said.
Despite the police's decision to end the protest, several hundred people gathered in a square near Cologne's main train station for a final speech, witness said.
A police spokeswoman confirmed that there were several scuffles between protesters and police in and around the square.
Some 20,000 Kurds from every part of Germany had marched to protest the military operation, which began a week ago.
The start of the protest had already been delayed by about two hours as some participants were carrying banned symbols, German police said.
Police said ahead of the demonstration that there was 'considerable potential for conflict with nationalist Turks who live in the city centre through which the march was taking place.
The demonstration and march were announced by the Kurdish umbrella organisation Nav-Dem, which is considered to be close to the PKK.
It is not the first demonstration by Kurds in Germany against the Turkish military operation.
Some 450 people took part in a protest in Hamburg on Friday, after a smaller march on Monday.
Turkish mosques have also been targeted in the past week.
A mosque in Stade near Hamburg had some windows broken and graffiti painted on it.
A mosque in the central city of Kassel likewise had paint thrown at it nearly a week ago, police said, with someone daubing the name of the Kurdish-held district under attack by Turkish troops Afrin on the mosque.
Yesterday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticised German authorities over attacks on mosques, which had also featured on Turkish media.
'What is Germany waiting for? Our citizens are being attacked, our mosques are being attacked under the protection of their police. What is the German police still waiting for? Erdogan said in Istanbul, addressing supporters.
More than 2,000 police officers were drafted to watch the Cologne demonstration, including some from neighbouring federal states, the head of the Cologne police force, Uwe Jacob, said on Friday.
Germany has the largest Kurdish population in the Kurdish diaspora, with many having arrived in the 1960s as seasonal workers.
The Afrin operation has sparked international concern and calls for restraint to guard against the possible deaths of civilians.


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