FRANKFURT, March 18 Around 9,000 Kurdish
supporters demonstrated in the German city of Frankfurt on
Saturday against Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and an April
referendum that would give him sweeping new powers.
Protesters chanted "Erdogan terrorist" and "freedom for
Ocalan", referring to Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the
militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), with many waving flags
featuring Ocalan's face. The European Union and United States
consider the PKK a terrorist group and it is banned in Germany.
"The Europeans should hear us, empathise with our suffering
and help us. It would be best if they imposed economic sanctions
on Turkey," demonstrator Sinan Anin said.
Several hundred police officers were deployed at the
demonstration, which police said was peaceful.
On Wednesday Martin Schaefer, spokesman for the Foreign
Ministry, said the German government had approved voting by the
estimated 1.4 million Turks living in Germany who are eligible
to cast ballots in the April 16 referendum.
Erdogan is seeking support among Turks abroad for the
referendum. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has said
Erdogan is taking advantage of a sentiment many people of
Turkish origin have in Germany that they are neither accepted
Demonstrator Mustafa Bostan said if Erdogan won the
referendum, things would worsen: "It could be that he'll say:
'I've won again' and then he'll start fighting again and
destroying Kurdish towns or killing Kurds."
Relations between Ankara and Berlin have been burdened by
the arrest of a Turkish-German journalist in Turkey and by
Erdogan's description of bans on planned rallies by Turkish
ministers as "fascist".
(Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Michelle Martin;
Editing by Dale Hudson)