Titalls politi ble skadd i sammenstøt med kurdiske demonstranter i Mannheim, Tyskland. Kurdere fra hele Europa var samlet. Det var da en ung gutt tok et PKK-flagg innenfor sperringene, at bråket begynte.
Arrangørene visste at flagget var forbudt, og tilkalte politiet. Da de ankom ble de møtt av en skur av stener og fysiske angrep. Tusenvis heiet på angriperne. Det snakkes om at 40.000 kurdere var samlet.
På vei fra Strasbourg til Mannheim var det sammenstøt med tyrkere.
Police said they had to use pepper spray to bring the violent crowd of several hundred people under control. They made 31 arrests and confiscated a small number of weapons as well as flags and t-shirts bearing banned symbols.
Most of the 80 police officers injured in the clashes were hit by bricks or bottles thrown by the attackers, while 13 police vehicles were damaged.
The number of Kurds who had traveled from all over Europe for the festival was estimated at approximately 40,000.
Police said the violence broke out after a 14-year old youth carrying a flag of a banned Kurdish organization attempted to enter the market area where the event was being held. Security personnel provided by the festival’s organizers called police for assistance after they failed in their attempt to prevent the youth from bringing the flag into the market area.
A police spokesman said that when officers reached the scene, they were immediately attacked by dozens of visitors to the festival, who appeared to have interpreted their arrival as a “provocation.” These, the spokesman said, were cheered on by several thousand others attending the event.
Related events in the days leading up to the festival were also marred by violence. On Friday, police forced an early end to a youth march from the French city of Strasbourg to Mannheim after things threatened to get out of hand. Police said that during the march there had been a number of verbal and physical assaults. Two days earlier, seven people, including five police officers, were injured in clashes between the Kurdish youth and Turks as the march was making its way along the route south of Mannheim.
pfd/tj (dpa, DAPD)