Hundreds took to the streets of Rome Saturday to mark the Global Day for Kobane, standing in solidarity with the Kurdish city that was under siege by the Islamic State group in Syria last year before the extremists were pushed back by Kurdish resistance fighters.
Protesters held photos of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, the co-founder and head of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. Ocalan has been serving a life sentence in a Turkish prison for the past 16 years, but is credited with popularizing the form of council-based direct democracy, “Democratic Confederalism,” which prevails in Syrian Kurdistan.
The demonstrators, many from Italy’s Kurdish community, also held signs in Turkish that said “Killer Erdogan,” referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who this past July launched a military campaign against the PKK in Turkey and Syria. Many see that war, which broke a tentative cease-fire with the Kurdish guerrilla group as a bid to discredit the increasingly popular Kurdish political party HDP in Turkey and expand his presidential powers in Sunday’s general elections.
Flying Kurdish symbols and Kurdistan flags, the protesters held signs reading, “Rome stands with Kurdistan,” and also set off fireworks.
Earlier this week, several groups, renowned academics and others from around the world said they would participate in similar rallies and protests in solidarity with Kobane. Those actions take place Sunday.
Last year on Nov.1, hundreds of rallies, demonstrations and actions took place across dozens of countries to show support for Kobane and its people at a time when major players in the region, including Turkey and Iraq, were doing little to help its inhabitants beat back an Islamic State offensive.