LONDON,— At least one British police officer was wounded Friday when angry Kurdish demonstrators tried to storm the Turkish embassy in London in protest against the detention of leading Kurdish politicians in Turkey.
The protest that began relatively peacefully degenerated into violence as dozens of protesters tried to break through police barriers and enter the embassy, Rudaw reported.
Police sources said the injuries of the officer were relatively light and not life threatening.
Hundreds of Kurdish activists and demonstrators gathered in front of the UK prime minister’s office in Downing Street Friday before moving towards the Turkish embassy in London.
Larger demonstrations are expected in London and other European capitals on Saturday as lawmakers of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) remain in Turkish police custody, Kurdish activists told Rudaw.
Prominent HDP lawmakers including party co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdaq were detained by the Turkish police Thursday night.
Turkish authorities have said the lawmakers were detained after they failed to respond to a court summons investigating terror charges.
The Turkish government accuses the HDP of being the political arm of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has fought an armed insurgency against the state for over three decades. The HDP rejects the accusation.
The Turkish parliament removed the legal immunity for a select group of lawmakers, including many from HDP, earlier this year, which has made it possible for the court to issue the warrants for their arrest.
The court also issued arrest warrants for three other HDP lawmakers on Friday after another four MPs were released on bail during the day. Police said 8 lawmakers, including the co-chairs, were now in custody.
In New York, demonstrations were held on Friday with hundreds of Kurdish protesters gathering in front of the UN headquarters.
The protesters demanded the UN condemn the arrests, but the world body has so far only “raised concern” for the crackdown on Kurdish politicians.
UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric condemned a deadly bombing that hit the largely Kurdish city of Diyarbakir on Friday, hours after the arrests. But he stopped short of condemning the lawmakers’ arrests, saying that the UN was concerned.
The United States used similar language. In the daily State Department press briefing on Friday, spokesperson John Kirby said “the United States condemns the indefensible bombing in Diyarbakir.”
Regarding the arrests of the HDP lawmakers, Kirby said the US is “deeply concerned.”
He said that US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs Under Secretary Ümit Yalçın and made it clear “that when democracies pursue legal action against an elected representative, they must do so in a manner that reinforces the public’s confidence in rule of law.”
EU, France, Germany and several parties in the European Union legislature have strongly condemned the detention of Kurdish politicians by Turkish authorities over “terrorism-related” investigations.
The European Union is “extremely worried” by Turkey’s arrest of Kurdish opposition lawmakers, the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Friday, “Extremely worried for arrest of (Selahattin Demirtas) and other (HDP) MPs,” she said. “In contact with authorities.”
The PKK took up arms in 1984 against the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to push for greater autonomy for the Kurdish minority who make up around 22.5 million of the country’s 78-million population. A large Kurdish community in Turkey and worldwide openly sympathise with PKK rebels.