The Kurdish diaspora living in Europe took to the streets of various European capitals on Saturday to protest the detention and subsequent arrest of parliamentary deputies of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the growing authoritarianism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Some 7,000 Kurds gathered in Cologne on Saturday in a demonstration organized by Nav-Dem, the largest umbrella organization for Kurdish groups in Germany. Some protestors held signs bearing the face of jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan, while others waved placards condemning Turkey’s president that said “Sultan Erdoğan” and “Stop the Erdoğan dictatorship.”
No violence was reported at the rally, although police were on the scene in force and had closed off the streets in Cologne’s city center.
On Friday, angry Kurdish crowds tried to storm the Turkish Embassy in London, protesting the arrest of nine HDP members of the Turkish Parliament that same day on terrorism-related charges. The demonstrators had first gathered peacefully in front of the UK prime minister’s office, but the rally turned violent when they tried to break through barriers and enter the embassy, injuring one police officer in the process.
A rally was also held on Saturday at Republique Square in Paris, where participants protested the policies of Turkish President Erdoğan and the arrest of the nine Kurdish politicians.
Turkish courts on Friday arrested nine HDP deputies including the party’s co-chairs, who were detained in the early hours of Friday following police raids on their homes.
HDP Co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ and deputies İdris Baluken, Leyla Birlik, Nursel Aydoğan, Selma Irmak, Ferhat Encü and Gülser Yıldırım were arrested on Friday afternoon.
Counterterrorism police in the early hours of Friday also raided HDP headquarters in Ankara and conducted a search of the premises. The operation was launched after HDP deputies refused to testify about alleged crimes linked to “terrorist propaganda.