Manchester Piccadilly train station could not operate for several hours after protesters trespassed onto the train tracks, causing nationwide disruption to services.
Hundreds of people marched from Piccadilly Gardens to the Piccadilly train station on Sunday.
They were protesting against the UK government’s “silence” over Turkey’s military assaults against Afrin, a predominantly Kurdish city in Northern Syria.
The Kurds believe that Turkey’s agenda is to “ethnically cleanse” the region of them.
The protest was part of a Europe-wide string of nonviolent resistance protests, where protesters carry out acts of civil disobedience by causing disruptions in order to get government attention.
Manchester Piccadilly train station:
The protesters stormed into the station and onto the train tracks, resulting in closure of the station.
The incident left many passengers stranded on trains travelling to, via and from Manchester Piccadilly.
It took Virgin Trains 25 minutes to tweet about the incident:
— Virgin Trains (@VirginTrains) March 11, 2018
They later announced that the station would be closed until further notice:
#VTUPDATE Manchester Piccadilly has been been closed until further notice. Train services running to and from this station may be cancelled, delayed or terminated at and started back from Stockport. https://t.co/ka4aYo2fEI
— Virgin Trains (@VirginTrains) March 11, 2018
While events unfolded, members of the public took to social media to post images and videos of what was happening.
The protesters marched into the station chanting: “Shame on you Theresa May”, “Wake up UK”, “Stop supporting Turkish State”, “Hands off Afrin”, and so on.
Protesters were also seen holding banners which read: “Stop Turkey from helping ISIS terrorists”, a claim which Turkey has always denied.
An activist explained that they carried out the Manchester Piccadilly station protest due to the “violence and injustice happening in Afrin, carried out by the Turkish military”
She went on to say: “Britain has a global responsibility to uphold and speak out against what has been going on since January, which is an unwarranted attack on millions of refugees and locals in Afrin”
She went on to say that the purpose of their protest was to “force a reaction” [about the situation in Afrin] from the government.
The government has not yet officially responded to the protest.
As the train station remained shut down, protesters sang and read poetry about the war in Syria.
The incident is said to have cost companies thousands of pounds due to cancellations and delays to services.
This is as well as inconveniences caused to the people travelling, many of whom were stuck on trains.
After apologising about the disruption caused to members of the public, one protester told me: “we had no choice but to do this, our government is choosing to stay silence about the massacre of innocent people”
‘Couldn’t the protest have been without disrupting the service’
Many took to social media to express their outrage at the incident:
Some protest at Manchester Piccadilly station…
It’s delayed all the trains. This may be insensitive, but I just want to go home, couldn’t the protest have been done without disrupting the service#FirstWorldProblems
— Michael Truong (@MichaelHTruong) March 11, 2018
Pretty sure the trains haven’t got anything to do with what you’re protesting about. What have you gained other than pissing people off who want to go home #ManchesterPiccadilly
— Jo ? (@J_Brook_) March 11, 2018
You stupid cunts… I hope they turn the electric back on and get you all you fucking wankers #ManchesterPiccadilly
— Kingy (@davekk1984) March 11, 2018
While some shared angry or hateful tweets about the situation, there were others who were more sympathetic to the protesters.
It continues to amaze me that some people just don’t understand that the purpose of protests like this is to cause inconvenience so people pay attention. The protest at Manchester Piccadilly may inconvenience you but take a moment to think about why they were pushed to do this.
— Jess? (@mcfly_jess) March 11, 2018
A Twitter user responded to angry tweets by saying: the protest “may inconvenience you but take a moment to think about why they were pushed to do this.”
I intended on catching a train to #ManchesterPiccadilly today but it seems it was closed because some Kurdish people were protesting to highlight the massacre in Afrin, so I guess I’m okay with this as it is justified.
— Erin (@Erydactyl) March 11, 2018
Went to get a train from Manchester Piccadilly station – it’s on complete shutdown due to a protest on the tracks. Just shared a taxi with 3 Stockport strangers: we discussed Turkey, human rights & non violent direct action.
So ?? to a successful disruptive protest! ?? pic.twitter.com/L9CsDMTEZS
— G ?? (@geeriggle) March 11, 2018
The protest ended peacefully and no arrests were made. Protesters left the station at the request of the police.
Following the reopening of the station, Superintendent Mark Cleland, from British Transport Police said an investigation will be carried out.
He went on to say: “Those involved in [the] incident will be subject to intense investigation with a view to arrest and prosecution.”
We will update this page as further news comes in. Please keep checking for updates.