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Hundreds protest alleged Tokyo police violence against Kurdish man

TOKYO (TR) – Hundreds of protestors marched through the streets of Shibuya Ward on Saturday to denounce alleged violence by two police officers against an ethnic Kurd earlier this month, reports the Mainichi Shimbun (May 30).

The estimated 200 foreign and Japanese protestors shouted, “Do not discriminate against foreigners!” The march, which included a police escort, made its way to the Shibuya Police Station and other locations.

“Punish racist cops,” read one sign. “We need justice!” said another. The protestors also denounced the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, an incident that spurred protests and riots across the U.S. over the weekend.

Leading the protest in Shibuya was the 33-year-old male victim, who was not named. The incident in question took place near JR Ebisu Station while he was driving his car on the afternoon of May 22.

“I didn’t commit a traffic violation, but I was terrified just because I am a foreigner,” said the man, wearing a baseball cap and breathing mask, during the protest. “Is it acceptable for them to get violent without listening because I am a foreigner?”

At around 3:30 p.m., he drove passed a patrol car on the side of the road and made a left turn onto Meiji-dori. The patrol car then blared its siren, ordering him to stop.

One of the two officers then said, “We want to search the car.” The Kurdish man refused, saying he had a dental appointment to go to. The officers then dragged him from the vehicle.

Shibuya Police Station officers drag a man to the ground on May 22 near JR Ebisu Station (Twitter)

“I can’t breathe”

In video footage, shot by an acquaintance of the man, the two officers are shown pinning him to the front of the patrol car. They then force him to the ground with their arms and grab him around the neck. “I am not doing anything,” the man says. “Don’t touch me.”

One officer then sees the smartphone photographing the scene and releases the man while raising his arms and moving toward the photographer.

“I didn’t try to flee nor did I get violent,” the man said. “They were choking me so I said, ‘I can’t breathe.’ But I couldn’t get free until [they saw] my friend was shooting.”

According to the man, eventually about 30 officers arrived at the scene. They opened the trunk of his vehicle without his consent. They then tore open a cardboard box and searched one of his bags.

The man came from Turkey to Japan 15 years ago. Holding a permanent resident visa, he works at a restaurant.

He claims he suffered injuries to his neck, a foot and side that will require one week to heal in the incident.

On May 27, the man filed a complaint with the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office against the officers on suspicion of inflicting injury.