People injured in front of Turkish consulate in Brussels

People injured in front of Turkish consulate in Brussels

People injured in front of Turkish consulate in Brussels

AA photo

Several people were injured in “serious” altercations in front of the Turkish consulate in Brussels between supporters and opponents of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on March 30, Belgian police said.

“Serious incidents broke out between supporters and opponents of the Turkish regime, on a public road, outside the consulate of Turkey,” Brussels police spokeswoman Ilse van de Keere told AFP.

“Many people were injured” and taken to hospital, she added.

The incident occurred on the third day that Turkish voters in Belgium are allowed to cast early ballots for the April 16 referendum on constitutional amendments including the shift to executive presidency.

Van de Keere gave no other details on the number of people injured or on the state of their injuries, saying the situation was “sensitive” and that about 100 people remained in front of the consulate at 8 p.m.

According to state-run Anadolu Agency, four people were wounded in the brawl outside the consulate and they were later taken to hospital while there were no disruptions in the voting process.

The Brussels prosecutor’s office was investigating the incident and four suspects were detained. A fifth suspect could not yet be detained since he was hospitalized.

The Turkish consulate in Brussels also issued a statement regarding the brawl outside the building. 

“It has been sadly learnt that there were injuries as a result of a brawl that erupted between a group of our citizens 100 meters away from our consulate while the voting process in the consulate was continuing without any problems on March 30 afternoon. Representatives from the four political parties [AKP, MHP, CHP, HDP] were greatly saddened and they wish a speedy recovery for our injured citizens. There will be visits to the wounded citizens,” the consulate statement read.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, in a tweet, condemned the violence saying his government has “zero tolerance” for such incidents linked to the referendum.

Separately,  the domestic intelligence service of the Federal Republic of Germany (BfV) warned of potential violent acts between Turkish and Kurdish nationalist and radical groups in Germany before and after the April 16 referendum. 

According to a note issued on the BfV website, Turkish groups and supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Germany are “positioning” themselves in the run-up to the referendum, leading to potential violence.

Turkish voters in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany and Switzerland can also cast their ballots for the next two weeks, until April 9.

Relations have become strained between Europe and Turkey – especially with the Netherlands and Germany – after Turkish ministers were blocked from speaking to their citizens in those countries.

Western nations have also voiced concern about the planned changes, arrests and dismissals in Turkey in the aftermath of the July 2016 failed coup attempt.