BEIRUT: Hundreds of Kurds gathered in front of the United Nations building in Downtown Beirut Sunday to demand the release of Abdullah Ocalan, a founder of the Kurdish Workers Party who has been imprisoned in Turkey since 1999.
The annual protest attracted even greater numbers this year, according to attendees, due largely to the influx of Syrian Kurds into Lebanon since the Syrian uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011.
Although the protest was peaceful, with many families present, dozens of security forces in riot gear were stationed nearby.
“Our demands are freedom for the Kurdish people and freedom for Abdullah Ocalan,” said Khalil, 60, who declined to give his last name. “We want equality and freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of culture, like any people.”
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 11, 2013, on page 4.