German Kurds stage anti-Erdogan protest in Frankfurt

  • German Kurds stage anti-Erdogan protest in Frankfurt

German Kurds stage anti-Erdogan protest in Frankfurt

Germany and Turkey have been caught up in a fresh spat after a rally backing outlawed Kurdish fighters in Turkey was held in Frankfurt and a top German intelligence official made controversial comments on last summer's failed coup against the Turkish government.

On Wednesday Martin Schaefer, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said the German government had approved voting by the estimated 1.4 million Turks living in Germany who are eligible to cast ballots in the April 16 referendum.

Protesters chanted "Terrorist Erdogan" and "freedom for Ocalan", referring to Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the PKK, with many waving flags featuring Ocalan's face.

Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Europe was seeking to "whitewash" Gulen's group, while Defence Minister Fikri Isik said the comments raised questions about whether Berlin itself was involved in the putsch.

Turkish officials have been further angered over the weekend after Bruno Kahlmade, the German foreign intelligence chief, said Turkey "failed to convince" Germany that the organisation of Fethullah Gulen, a religious leader and businessman who is in a self-imposed exile in the U.S., was directly behind last year's coup attempt.

With the increasing tensions between Germany and Turkey, German authorities has cancelled several Turkish high-ranking officials' visit and public rally in Germany since early this month, claiming reason of security problems or capacity limitation.

Some 30,000 pro-Kurdish demonstrators rallied in the German city of Frankfurt on Saturday calling for "democracy in Turkey" and urging a "no" vote in an upcoming referendum on expanding Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers.

The protest brought swift condemnation from Turkey, which said Germany was allowing open support for terrorism.

"Turkey has tried to convince us of that at every level but so far it has not succeeded", Kahl was quoted as saying by the "Spiegel" news magazine.

Germany is home to over 3 million people of Turkish origin, with almost half of them eligible to vote in Turkey. More than 240 people died in the attempt.

The PKK is outlawed as a terrorist organization in Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The constitutional change would give Erdogan sweeping new powers.