Kurdish-Turkish tensions spill out onto streets of Hackney

Kurdish people march through Dalston (James Bickerton / Hackney Post)

Kurdish activists clashed with local Turks during a procession through Dalston last Sunday.

Members of London’s Kurdish community were going to a community centre in Harringay when they were taunted by a small group of Turkish youth.

Police had to restore order after about 30 Kurds charged the Turkish group, forcing them to flee down the street.

Kurds organised the public demonstration to demand the release of Abdullah Öcalan, the founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who has been imprisoned on Turkey’s Imrali island since 1999.

Kurds march through Dalston chanting anti Turkey slogans (James Bickerton/Hackney Post).

The crowd chanted slogans supporting the PKK, and critical of Turkey and its president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Several chants accused the Turkish Government of supporting the so-called Islamic State, with people shouting: “Who supports ISIS? Turkish state” and “ISIS is Turkish state, Turkish state is ISIS”.

Further clashes took place outside the Aziziye Mosque on Stoke Newington Road, with the two sides briefly exchanging plastic bottles and other missiles before being separated by police.

19-year-old Yasmin Bali, told The Hackney Post that the group was protesting against the “imprisonment of a leader [Öcalan] who has always supported a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question.”

“All we want is his freedom”, she added before alleging there is an “international conspiracy against the Kurdish people.”

The PKK was founded in 1978 by Abdullah Öcalan, initially with the objective of achieving an independent state. The group uses violent methods to try and achieve its aims, and has been proscribed as a terrorist organisation by both the UK and EU.

No arrests were made or injuries reported during the march.