VIENNA - Hundreds of people carrying red Turkish flags, some as long as 10 meters, marched Sunday to Joseph’s Square, Vienna’s iconic palace courtyard.
Protesting last week’s attack on an Istanbul airport that left 45 people dead and nearly 250 injured, marchers accused parts of the Austrian government of supporting Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants, considered terrorists in both Austria and Turkey.
“The Austrian government needs to make a stand against them,” said 27-year-old Metlhem. “They allow it to be here.”
“If they are in any district, they must be cleared,” added Mustafa Koca, a 19-year-old IT student.
Protesters were not thwarted by the news that the attackers are believed to have been Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Russian nationals. Turks and people of Turkish descent are one of Austria’s largest minority groups, and protesters said they were marching against all hate groups, not just the PKK.
But it was chants against the PKK that drummed up the most enthusiasm. Previous smaller pro-PKK marches have been marred by attacks from other Turkish people. Protesters here say any PKK march or flag is banned.
“We say Kurdish people and Turkish people are siblings,” said Merve Ciger, a 16-year-old student among the dozens of people carrying one large Turkish flag. “They say Turkish people kill Kurds.”