Sun Mar 19, 2017 06:25AM
Kurdish protesters demonstrate with posters reading “No to dictatorship,” in the city center of Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, March 18, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Kurdish protesters demonstrate with posters reading “No to dictatorship,” in the city center of Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, March 18, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

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.

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, which would hand Erdogan an executive presidency.

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

The Saturday 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.

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 organization not just by Turkey but also the European Union — including Germany — and the United States.

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.

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

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.”

This file photo, taken on February 2, 2017, shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel leaving after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Ankara. (By AFP)

Erdogan on Monday accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of “supporting terrorists,” in a spiraling 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.

(Source: AFP)