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Kurds Occupy European Parliament as Protester Is Killed in Turkey Clashes

Demonstrators want more international action to prevent the Syrian town of Kobane from falling to the Islamic State.
Image via Reuters

Around 100 Kurdish protesters overwhelmed security to demonstrate inside the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday, demanding military action to protect the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane from Islamic State fighters.

As demonstrations spread across Europe, the Kurdistan National Congress told VICE News a 25-year-old protester had been shot and killed during a Kobane solidarity protest in Varto, Turkey. He was named as Hakan Buksur.


Peaceful protesters in the European Parliament occupied the VoxBox multimedia stage, carrying banners and flags, some of them showing Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The PKK called for its supporters to take to the streets to urge European military action to defend Kobane, which is on the brink of falling to IS militants.

The demonstrators left the European Parliament after representatives spoke to President Martin Schulz.

One Kurdish protester told a EU lawmaker from Austria's Green Party, Michel Reimon, who has been documenting the demonstration: "We are here for the Kurdish who are killed in Kobane in Syria. We are not here for violence. We want help. So we want weapons, we want military intervention."

Black Flags Over Kobane as Islamic State Forces Move In. Read more here.

It is the latest demonstration in a string of protests across Europe by Kurdish activists seeking more military aid to the US-led coalition opposing Islamic State. On Tuesday a group also gathered at London's Heathrow Airport, chanting anti-IS slogans.

On Monday around 70 Kurds occupied the Dutch parliament in The Hague in a peaceful protest. Demonstrators also shut down London's central Oxford Circus tube station, and took to the streets of Rome, Vienna, Cologne and Stockholm.

In Turkey — which has a troubled relationship with the Kurds — the protests took on an angrier tone. Turkish media reported clashes between police and protesters in cities including Istanbul and the mainly Kurdish Diyarbakir. Violence has also flared at the Turkish border close to Kobane, as Kurdish demonstrators accuse Turkey of backing IS and demand they are allowed across the closed frontier to join the fight against the militants.


Protesters set fire to a car and a bus in Istanbul, according to Turkish news agency DHA, and a policeman was injured after demonstrators set up barricades and threw fire bombs, Dogan news agency reported.

The protests have been organized by the KGDE — the Congress of the Democratic Society of Kurds in Europe.

Hakan Cifci, a spokesperson for the Kurdistan National Congress in Brussels, told VICE News: "We have called every part of the globe where the Kurdish people live to uprise, to create attention of the human rights situation in Kobane, and we have called the international community to support the Kurds since the situation there could result in mass genocide."

"We are calling on the international community to rectify the situation and place more pressure on the Turkish government," he said.

Follow Ben Bryant on Twitter: @benbryant