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Up to 24 Protesting Kurds Occupy London 'Eye' Ferris Wheel

Aired December 20, 2000 - 2:08 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to shift gears rather dramatically and take you to London. There's been a rather significant and dramatic protest at one of the most significant sites in that city. That would be the "Eye" ferris wheel, which, of course, was built for the millennium celebrations.

CNN's Richard Blystone is on the telephone line now with us from right below the Eye there.

Richard, what's going on?

RICHARD BLYSTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I can tell you it's an eerie site, Joie, all of London lit up for Christmas, the London Eye towering over it all was blue winking lights, and down below about 60, mixture of Turkish and Kurdish and other Turkish minority people, supporting something like up to a couple of dozen people who have taken over two of the about 30 pods on this giant ferris wheel.

Just a few moments ago, a police representative talked to the demonstrators out here, urging them to remain calm and peaceful, and said when the protesters who have taken over the two pods on the ferris wheel are ultimately arrested, they will be "treated right."

We see outside one of the pods about three helmeted policemen. There's a helicopter going overhead and there's a patrol boat out in the Thames River. The wheel is right on the bank of the river.

The protesters are chanting, "end massacres in Turkish prisons." Now, that's a -- was reference to their claim that some prisoners, apparently a large number of them Kurds who were killed this week by burning, were actually killed by the prison authorities and not in a suicide move. That is what they are saying -- Joie.

CHEN: Richard, is it clear what they want the police or the government to do?

BLYSTONE: Well, they want publicity, for one thing, and they want pressure on Turkey. They want an international focus on what's happening to dissidents in Turkey. It's a bit of a variation on a theme we saw in February last year when the group of mostly Kurds, again, took over the Greek embassy here in London and held a janitor hostage for a couple of days, tied up traffic and were finally talked out of it. The same sort of scenario here, only there is no hostage. The police say the wheel was cleared after the taking of the two pods by the protesters.

CHEN: So...

BLYSTONE: So that's about it for here for right now, Joie.

CHEN: Richard, just to make clear now, except for those two that are occupied by protesters, the other cars of the ferris wheel are empty?

BLYSTONE: The other cars are empty, yes. Police said they were able to evacuate the other cars, certainly after the takeover, which was a little more than four hours ago. And so there's no danger to anyone except for those who are in the pods, who must be getting pretty cold -- Joie.

CHEN: All right, CNN's Richard Blystone on the telephone line with us from London.

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