Kurdish protesters demonstrate with posters reading "No to dictatorship," in the city center of Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on Saturday. -AFP
Some 30,000 Turkish Kurds have held a demonstration in the German city of Frankfurt against the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Protesters came from all over Germany ahead of Kurdish new year celebrations.
They called for democracy and a No vote in next month's Turkish referendum on increasing presidential powers. Many carried symbols of the banned PKK. Turkey condemned the gathering as "unacceptable" and accused Germany of hypocrisy for allowing it.
A diplomatic row has been escalating between the countries since Germany refused to let Turkish ministers hold pro-government rallies in the country two weeks ago. Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in a statement: "It is unacceptable to see PKK symbols and slogans... when Turkish ministers and lawmakers are being prevented from meeting their own citizens. "We once again remind European countries: on April 16 the decision is to be made by the (Turkish nation), not Europe." A police spokesman described Saturday's rally in Frankfurt as peaceful.
Many of the demonstrators carried banners of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has battled the Turkish state for more than three decades. More than 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK launched its insurgency in 1984, and the European Union and United States both consider it a terror organization.
About 1.4 million Turks in Germany can vote in the April referendum, which could give Erdogan new powers over the budget and the appointment of ministers and judges, as well as the power to dismiss parliament.