Cologne, Germany – Thousands gathered on Saturday in the German city of Cologne to rally in support of Kurdish independence and the end of the Sykes-Picot agreement. Alongside the demonstration, many musicians held a concert to entertain the peaceful demonstrators.
“This is the last year of Sykes-Picot,” said a protester to Corduene. “Through secret agreements our freedom was taken from us a hundred years ago, but today we have a voice which can be heard all over the world.”
The Sykes-Picot agreement was a secret arrangement between the governments of Great Britain and France to divide the Middle East into several spheres of interest. With the consent of the Russian government, the region was split up into new artificial countries. The pact led finally to the segmentation of the Kurds, who then were divided into four countries.
In a speech to the masses, Mehmet Tanriverdi, co-head of the Kurdish Community in Germany (KGD) said: “To accept them (the borders) any longer would not be just wrong, it would be a crime against all reason, a crime against a millennia-old civilization, a crime against the highly praised humanity!”
Later this year a referendum on independence will be held in the Autonomous Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq. Kurds will then decide if they want to stay a part of war-torn Iraq, or if they want to walk the independence walk. Support for Kurdish independence came from countries like Israel and Sweden.
Nihad Latif Qoja, mayor of the Kurdish capital Erbil also attended the event in Cologne and was delighted by his people’s dedication to Kurdistan. The mayor says to Corduene: “Today, Kurds from all parts of Kurdistan stood shoulder-to-shoulder with their compatriots. Today Kurds demonstrated cohesion and a shared desire for a free Kurdistan under the flag of the Kurdish people.”
Asked on when Kurdish independence will come, the determined politician is optimistic and says: “Until the end of 2017. All developments in the Middle East suggest that. The upcoming referendum, which will be held this year, is a step in the right direction.”
Due to their determination in the fight against the “Islamic State,” Kurds won many supporters in the last years. German politician Tobias Huch, who visited the region several times and is a big supporter of Kurdish independence said in his speech in Cologne that the “Referendum in the Kurdistan Region is not just the beginning of freedom for southern Kurds, it is a signal for all Kurds seeking freedom.”
With a hurricane of applause and “Azadi!” (freedom) chants, the politician made a controversial statement, listing Kurdish cities outside the official Kurdistan Region and saying that one day all Kurds there will say “I live in Kurdistan.” Although his words may have angered some who oppose Kurdish desires for independence, the masses in Cologne applauded the politician even more vigorous by repeatedly chanting: “Germany! Germany!”
Between 40 and 50 million Kurds live in the Kurdish homeland Kurdistan or, caused by displacement, in different other countries worldwide. Today, Germany is home to more than 1.2 million people with a Kurdish heritage, the second-largest minority group in the country, after the Turks. With the start of the war against ISIS, Germany and Kurdistan became close allies in the global war on terror.