Kurdish community in Portsmouth protests Turkish invasion of northern Syria
A PROTEST against the Turkish invasion of Kurdish-held land gathered a 100 strong crowd at Portsmouth Guildhall on Saturday.
Members of the 3,000 strong Kurdish community in Portsmouth and activists from across the city took part in the event to highlight the military operation in northern Syria, which has killed 11 civilians and caused thousands to flee according to reports.
Omid Penjweny, a former chairman of the Kurdish Community Association in Portsmouth, said the Kurdish community felt 'betrayed' by President Trump's removal of US forces in the region, which has been seen as instrumental in allowing the Turkish invasion.
He said: 'The Kurdish people in the area face a genocide.
'So many people in Portsmouth know people out there in Syria - we are extremely worried.'
The forty-one year old said he wished he could challenge the American president on his lack of support for a democratic ally.
He added: 'For centuries the USA represented the free world, and its contribution to democracy is great.
'It's sad Trump has decided to abandon American values.
'I'm sure it's not what the whole American people want.'
Portsmouth City Council, and both Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan and Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, had all been 'very supportive of the Kurdish community,' according to Omid.
He said: 'We are very proud to be in Portsmouth. We have so many great friends here. The people of Portsmouth have always stood by us.
'We have always felt at home here.'
In March, Portsmouth became the first city in the UK to fly the Kurdish flag, which was raised at a ceremony to celebrate the Kurdish New Year, known as Newroz.Brian Futcher, who ran Squirrels antique shop in Kingston Road for more than 35 years, helped organise Saturday’s protest and came draped in a Kurdish flag.
Another protest would be staged if the situation 'escalated,' according to the former business man.
Brian, who volunteered at a refugee camp in Iraq in 2014, plans to open a drop-in support centre for the Kurdish community near Kingston Road next year.