Thousands of Kurds protest PKK leader Ocalan's detention

Thousands of Kurds protest PKK leader Ocalan's detention
Ankara's campaign against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in Afrin was a flashpoint at the annual march in France calling for Ocalan's release.
2 min read
18 February, 2018
Kurdish protesters at the annual Strasbourg march [Getty]

Thousands of Kurds marched through Strasbourg on Saturday to call for the release of PKK founder Abdullah Ocalan and protest against Turkey's military offensive in Syria, reported AFP.

"UN, take your responsibility and stop the genocide in Afrin," read one banner, referring to Ankara's Operation Olive Branch against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in northwestern Syria.

The protesters came from across Europe and waved Kurdish flags and pictures of the outlawed PKK leader, chanting "Freedom for Ocalan".

Organisers said up to 30,000 people attended the demonstration.

The march has taken place each year since Ocalan was jailed in 1999, in the city that hosts the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe .

Ocalan remains behind bars on a prison island located off Istanbul.

"Erdogan is becoming very aggressive towards the Kurds and the situation is getting a lot worse, year after year, month after month," said Newroz, who came from Germany to attend the rally. 

"Erdogan is a 100 per cent dictator, every European should know this," said Okce, also from Germany.

Ankara classifies the PKK as a terror group. Since 1984, the PKK and the Turkish state have been fighting an armed conflict.

The battles have resulted in more than 40,000 deaths.