Kurdish activists stage protest in European Parliament

About a dozen demonstrators brandished banners bearing the image of Abdullah Ocalan

Supporters of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Worker's Party, demonstrate during a plenary session at the European Parliament. AP
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Kurdish activists staged a protest in the European Parliament on Wednesday to coincide with the 24th anniversary of Turkey arresting their revered leader, Abdullah Ocalan.

About a dozen people brandished banners bearing Ocalan's image and shouted slogans hostile to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, forcing a halt to a debate session.

Abdullah Ocalano. STR

"They are pro-PKK activists," French MEP Bernard Guetta told news agency AFP, referring to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is banned in Turkey and blacklisted as a terrorist organisation in the EU.

Mr 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.

Mr Ocalan is the best-known leader of Kurdish rebellion in Turkey, but was arrested in Kenya by Turkish agents on February 15, 1999 and sentenced to death in June of the same year.

Now 73, his sentence was reduced 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 work after the earthquake that struck south-east Turkey and parts of Syria.

Updated: February 15, 2023, 2:09 PM