Dozens arrested at Rotterdam protest against Turkish offensive in Syria

23 demonstrators were arrested and three police officers injured during a protest against Turkey's invasion of Syria in Rotterdam, 16 October 2019
23 demonstrators were arrested and three police officers injured during a protest against Turkey's invasion of Syria in Rotterdam, 16 October 2019Photo: Politie Rotterdam/Twitter

A demonstration against the Turkish offensive in northeastern Syria in Rotterdam on Wednesday evening got completely out of hand. Protesters and counter protesters clashed multiple times. Three police officers were injured. A total of 23 of protesters were arrested, the Rotterdam police said on Twitter.

The demonstration started on Kruisplein at 7:00 p.m. The atmosphere was grim from the start. Kurdish protesters shouted that Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a terrorist, while Turkish protesters waved flags and chanted 'Turkey, Turkey', AD reports. One group set off fire works, the other group set signs against Erdogan on fire. 

Chaos broke out when a group of Kurdish demonstrators tried to approach the counter-demonstrators. The riot police carried out multiple charges to keep the groups apart. The demonstration moved to Rotterdam Central Station, where riot police officers tried to keep the groups separate and away from travelers with shields. There were multiple small fights outside the station, with police arresting suspects. Multiple weapons were seized. One cop broke his writs. Multiple others sustained less serious injuries.

A group of Kurdish protesters were eventually locked in on Stationsplein, in an attempt to restore public order. Counter-protesters continually tried to reach them. The group of Kurdish protesters was taken away, but not arrested.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte condemned what happened in Rotterdam on Wednesday evening. Demonstrations are allowed, but only in a civilized manner. "We obey the law. The shouting of the one should never lead to the other not being heard. The government will protect this. We must resolve social conflicts through dialogue and respect. And not like tonight in Rotterdam", he said on Wednesday. 

The Kurdish community is demonstrating against the Turkish offensive in northeastern Syria. The protesters are very concerned about the Kurds in the border region in Syria and want the government to take action - implement sanctions against Turkey and fight for a no-fly zone in Rojava and northern Syria, according to the newspaper. 

The Turkish government regards the Kurdish militia YPG in Syria as an extension of the PKK, the Kurdish labor party that is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, as well as the European Union and the United States. Turkey invaded Syria soon after the United States withdrew their troops from the area. 

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