Around a dozen Kurdish activists launched a protest on Wednesday in the European Parliament on the 24th anniversary of Turkey’s arrest of their leader, Abdullah Öcalan, Agence France-Presse reported.
The debate session was halted and MEPs left the chamber as the protesters carried banners bearing Öcalan’s image and shouted slogans hostile to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“They are pro-PKK activists,” MEP Bernard Guetta told AFP, referring to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), banned in Turkey and listed as a terrorist organization by the EU and much of the international community.
Guetta said the protesters were on an upper deck above the Strasbourg chamber, some sitting on a balustrade and dangling their legs above the parliament’s floor.
Öcalan is the best-known leader of Kurdish rebellion in Turkey but was arrested in Kenya by Turkish agents on Feb. 15, 1999 and sentenced to death in June of the same year.
Now 73, his sentence was commuted to life in prison in 2002 and supporters continue to demand his release.
Last week, PKK militants still fighting in Turkey announced a temporary halt to their operations during rescue efforts after massive earthquakes struck southeastern Turkey and parts of Syria.