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Further Kurdish protests planned in Vienna
Kurdish protest in downtown Vienna. Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Further Kurdish protests planned in Vienna

The Local · 19 Aug 2016, 13:28

Published: 19 Aug 2016 13:28 GMT+02:00

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Kurdish residents of the Austrian capital of Vienna gather each Saturday in the city centre to draw attention to their people's plight in Turkey.

But Austrian Turks have recently taken to staging rival protests at the same time in the same part of the city, the Stephansplatz square.

And in recent weeks, the two groups have clashed on multiple occasions in city streets or ambushed each other on their way to and from the protests.

Wrapped in Turkish flags, Austrian Turks charged towards the Kurdish group shouting "Allahu Akbar" ("God is great") with the Kurds fleeing the square.

Sonja Prousek said the seating area in front of her cafe was completely destroyed last weekend and elderly customers fled the scene in tears.

She told Österreich newspaper people were sick of the protests, adding: "Whenever there is a demonstration we have an empty establishment. The people are afraid."

But police spokesman Christoph Poelzl said that prohibiting the protests would be very difficult.

The only justification would be to prevent violence but he said that only one official complaint had been lodged following last weekend’s disturbances.

This Saturday, a Kurdish organisation has called for perhaps the biggest demonstration yet in the city centre.

Feykom, the Association of Kurdish Organisations in Austria that says it speaks for 80,000 Austrian Kurds, said it had no intention of calling off the protest despite fears from shopkeepers and police that it might escalate into violence.

Feykom president Richard Berger, who has lived in Austria for 24 years, blamed the Turks for the violence.

He said: "We live in Austria and demonstrate peacefully against the Turkish government and their anti-Kurdish policy.

"The Erdogan Turks in Austria are provoking us for months, yelling phrases like "We will kill you" in our faces. Each demo is deliberately disturbed, they are trying to go to war with us."

Clashes between Turks and Kurds have also been reported in other cities in Austria including Wels, in the state of Upper Austria, where two Kurds attacked a Turkish cultural centre.

Story continues below…

Two Kurds aged 16 and 21 were arrested after an incendiary device was thrown into a room at the centre.

Kurds, who make up the largest ethnic minority in Turkey, claim they are oppressed and treated like second class citizens.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan meanwhile classes the PKK, which is fighting for Kurdish rights in Turkey, as a terrorist organisation.

Story courtesty of Central European News

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