On Saturday 3 February, a protest outside the St Andrews student union turned into a minor scuffle.
Activists from the Socialist Society at St. Andrews gathered on Market Street as part of protest organised by Scottish Solidarity for Kurdistan to denounce the Turkish government’s attack on Afrin.
Tom Freebairn, member of the Socialist Society at the University, commented on behalf of the group about the protest.
He said, “We got a lot of good response from the community. Lots of people took interest and I like to believe a few people learned something new or got interested in the current situation.”
Despite this positive feedback, there was still pushback from counter-supporters.
A group in favour of Erdogan, Turkey’s current President, confronted the pro-Kurdistan group outside of the Student Union and a minor physical altercation followed although it was swiftly diffused.
According to Mr. Freebairn, “Pro-Erdogan supporters heckled and filmed us from a few streets over for most of the protest. It came to a head when several Erdogan supporters manifested themselves from Bell Street and hurled insults at the demonstration. It culminated in some shoving but luckily it de-escalated before anything worse could happen.”
A bystander, who wished to remain anonymous, commented that the brief quarrel was “scary” and that she had been “caught up in the middle of it” while simply trying to pass through.
The Scottish Solidarity for Kurdistan is an organisation created in order to establish connections between Scotland and Kurdistan.
The protest in St Andrews was one of many in the area following a similar one in Dundee outside the Overgate Shopping Centre.
Protests are being organised in response to Turkey’s recent offensive of Afrin, a city in Northern Syria.
According to BBC.co.uk, the motivation behind Turkey’s assault on Afrin is the country’s intent to demolish the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian Kurdish militia that Turkey believes has ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has been banned in Turkey after fighting for Kurdish independence.
Turkey considers the YPG to be a terrorist group and has long stated its intent to clear the YPG from the area.