European Parliament suspended as Kurdish protest erupts

European Parliament suspended as Kurdish protest erupts
Опубликовано: Wednesday, 15 February 2023 16:47

A few lawmakers helped negotiate with the Kurdish independence activists and Parliament resumed after roughly three hours.

STRASBOURG — EU lawmakers were briefly evacuated from the European Parliament on Wednesday after a group of Kurdish independence activists disrupted proceedings.

Around midday, a group of around 15 to 20 people began shouting loudly in the visitor gallery overlooking the chamber. They held up flags bearing the face of the imprisoned Abdullah Öcalan, one of the founders of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a militant group that has fought Turkey for an independent state. Turkey, the U.S. and the EU have labeled the PKK as a terrorist organization.

A group of Parliament members, including the body’s president, Roberta Metsola, went to negotiate with the activists, who were refusing to leave and threatening to jump off the visitor balcony.

“There was a concern that they would cause harm to themselves as part of their protest,” Metsola told MEPs when Parliament resumed three hours later.

“I’m pleased to tell you that the situation was resolved peacefully,” she said. “No one was hurt and no one was injured and all the protesters are now out of the Parliament’s premises.”

Before making her statement, Metsola was seen sweeping out of the visitor gallery with her top team. Metsola also thanked fellow MEPs Giuliano Pisapia, Evin Incir, Sergey Lagodinksy and Ilhan Kyuchyuk for accompanying her in efforts to calm the protesters in the room.

“This is not the way to get the attention of the European Parliament,” Metsola added, criticizing the protestors for disrupting the Parliament’s democratic activities and thanking the institution’s security services for their reaction. “I will not give their cause the publicity that they were looking for.”

Susanna Ceccardi, an Italian MEP from the far-right League party, described the Parliament’s security response as “embarrassing” on Twitter.

The group of activists distributed flyers that stated: “The conditions of solitary confinement imposed on Abdullah Öcalan are unique in the world and are contrary to all international conventions on the protection of prisoners’ rights.”

“The fact that no information about his health is leaking out is a cause of concern for millions of people,” the flyer added.

In video footage shared with POLITICO, the group could be heard chanting: “Free Abdullah Öcalan.”

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