Ferda Çetin spoke to Fırat News Agency (ANF) regarding the recent changes in European relations with Kurds and the Kurdish Freedom Movement.
9 Kurdish activists were sent to prison in France, following raids in Marseille and Paris in late March.
The Swedish parliament had also passed a new ‘terrorism’ bill, which was put in implementation as of 1 March 2020. The bill had mainly targeted Kurdish fighters, who joined the battle against ISIS in Syria.
Likewise, in Germany, the trial of 10 Kurdish politicians and activists continues, suspended due only to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Closely following the policy of European states towards Kurdish activists that has been in place before and to discuss the latest raids in France, Ferda Çetin answered questions for ANF.
Let’s start with a historical perspective: What kind of historic relationships has there been between the West and the Kurdish freedom movement led by the PKK and what has been it’s relations with the Kurdish diaspora communities?
The ongoing Kurdish policy in Europe and the US is not a relationship developed directly with the Kurdish people; In terms of balances of power, the “indirect” relations established are in relationship to the colonised Kurdistan. The Yalta, Sevre, Sykes Picot treaties all shaped the Middle East made by the sovereign states in 1916, 1921 and 1945 confirms these as “indirect”relations, which does not consider Kurds as a subject.
In 1979, the monarchy of Reza Pahlavi collapsed with the establishment of the “Iranian Islamic Revolution”; The invasion of Iraq by US and Britain in 2003; The ISIS invasion of Iraq and Syria in 2014 were the breaking points destroyed the status quo and balances in the Middle East. The crises and destruction in the region created important opportunities for Kurds who have no status. Following the establishment of Southern Kurdistan’s status in Iraq and Rojava Autonomous Administration in Syria, these created new possibilities for Western-Kurdish relations.
Although the US and European states have “good relations” with the Kurds and are in the same coalition in the war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, they continue to act as opposing forces, not as partners in terms of increasing the gains of the Kurds and their international status. This situation became more visible in the referendum in Southern Kurdistan and the declaration of democratic autonomy in Rojava.
The distinction between “good Kurds” and “bad Kurds” has been frequently discussed in recent years. How do you believe such a distinction is drawn?
Yes, the US and European states do not treat the Kurdish people and Kurdish political movements as an integrated structure, but also classify and seperate them according to their ideological-political understanding. The US, UK, Germany, France and Sweden have been trying to create their own, ‘Kurd’, for many years. The definitions of “good Kurds” and “bad Kurds” emerged as a result of this framework.
The US started talks with the Al Qaeda organisation in Doha on September 11, 2020. In parallel with this, a negotiation process began between the government and the Taliban in Afghanistan. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a few days ago that the Ensarallah organisation in Yemen was removed from the “terrorist list”.
The most influential political power in Kurdistan, PKK has not been removed from the “terror” lists of Europe and the US. Is there an international cooperation on this issue?
The ban on the PKK is globally led by the US and Germany in Europe. However, it is a fact that “terrorism” and “terrorist” is not limited to these two states, is also develops within the framework of international cooperation. Some of the most concrete evidence of this are the documents involved in the PKK case file in Belgium, brought to light thanks to Wikileaks. This document clearly shows that the PKK lawsuits filed in Germany, France, Denmark and Belgium are filed with political pressure, in which the United States is involved. During the trials in Belgium, the US met have with representatives of Turkey and Belgium frequently, to try to influence the outcome of the case.
The US Ambassador in Ankara, Nancy McEldowney sent a memo to the United States in May 2, 2006, advising intervention to the Belgium case considering Turkey’s demands.
Another message sent on February 15, 2007, it is stated that Ankara is pleased with the capture of PKK fighters in France and Belgium. US Ambassador to Ankara, “We must now deepen the sharing of intelligence between Europe-Turkey-US. “We must cooperate to block the work of ROJ TV and Fırat News, the propaganda organs of the PKK.” It has been discussed in the Danish press and parliament for a long time that the ROJ TV case filed in Copenhagen was opened with the instruction of the US Department of State to the Danish government.
In return for the closure of ROJ TV, Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen was awarded NATO Secretary General.
Should we consider Europe’s relations with the Kurdish Freedom Movement alongside the perspective of the US? What role does Germany play in this regard?
Europe’s relations with the Kurds and the Kurdish Freedom Movement cannot be considered separate from its relations with the United States. Germany converts the political and commercial interests based on opposition to Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for its relations with Turkey. Germany follows the policy in line with the demands of the Turkish state.
President of the German Republican Lawyers Association Peer Stolle said “The PKK ban is of German origin, The PKK ban in Germany is a decision made as a result of a political stance.”
Lawyer Lukas Theune expresses Germany’s insistence on the ban on the PKK and he said, ”The Kurdish freedom movement has an anti-capitalist line, Germany, an important centre of capitalism, considers it as dangerous for itself. “The PKK is being criminalised by the German state because it wants to create an alternative society.”
Those who consider the PKK as a threat to their systems make a “terror list”. These accusations are not of PKK’s violent acts against these countries. As pointed out by Lawyer Lukas Theune, it stems from the PKK’s anticapitalist attitude. However, in Germany, England, France, America, Sweden, there are anti-capitalist political parties more “radical” than the PKK, and their organisations openly threaten these states, and they also continue their activities without being listed or accused of “terrorism”.
Why has the Swedish government targeted Kurdish activists and politicians with its new laws?
On October 26, 2020 the Swedish Parliament deputies Amineh Kakabaveh, discussing with the foreign minister Anna Lind on the issue, said that “If the PKK is not removed from the list, Turkey will continue its occupation of Rojava and South Kurdistan with the pretext of ‘combating terrorism’. Anna Lind also stated recently that the European Union and Sweden had included the PKK on the terrorist list since 2002 and that unbanning would not be on the agenda.
Sweden carried out extraordinary activity regarding the murder of Olof Palme on February 28, 1986 to put the blame, wrongly, on the Kurdish people and gain success for labelling, in this dirty and underhand way. Years later, Sweden finally confronts these false accusations by trying to normalise the situation, stating that ”the PKK had no relationship to this incident whatsoever and the real murderer was revealed”. However, the Palme murder, was just as it was the beginning of the bans in Germany and was made the central plank of all subsequent bans and accusations in Europe. This role and mission was assumed by the Swedish government and intelligence of the time on behalf of Europe.
In parallel with the policy in Germany, criminalisation, detention, arrests, freezing of bank accounts and trials against Kurds, which have recently increased in France and Sweden, are all parts of the “Master Plan”. Germany insists on its harsh and hostile attitude towards the PKK and the Kurds living in Germany. It regulated the Penal Code without even the need for concrete events, reasonable grounds, witnesses and evidence for prohibition and “terrorism” accusations; thus, it can accuse people without relying on any evidence whatsoever or any concrete evidence. The USA, France and Sweden are developing a policy of “yes to the Kurds, no to the PKK” in coordination and partnership.
Is it because of such policies that Rojava, Sinjar and even Maxmur camp have became vulnerable to attacks by the Turkish state?
In 2014, with the struggle of the Kurdish people and PKK guerrillas against ISIS in Rojava, Kobanê, Sinjar and Mexmur in 2014, an interest and sympathy for the Kurdish people and the PKK developed. Sympathy is not just about courage and success in war. They began to recognise the PKK guerrillas and Kurdish women in particular and understand the Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan and the system he proposed for the Kurds and the Middle East. Today, the only reason why Rojava, Sinjar and Mexmûr are made vulnerable to the attacks of the Turkish state is that the system built here is an alternative to capitalism as visible and living examples; another life is possible.
After ISIS was defeated in Iraq and Syria, the UN, US, Britain, Germany, France and Sweden are now developing a new plan. On the one hand, while providing humanitarian aid and economic support in the intense traffic of negotiations and diplomacy with the Kurds, on the other hand, the activities to remove the Kurdistan Freedom struggle and its leaders, which has been going on for 40 years, are being carried out. This plan was the liquidation of the PKK. Turkey and their partners KDP have undertaken certain roles for this. However, since this liquidation plan was not accepted, now activities are turned to disintegrate the unity of the people by creating contradictions and tensions between the administrations and political parties.
What is the relationship between the oppression policy in Europe and the recent attacks of the Turkish state targeting Kurds?
While Turkey and ISIS forces occupied South Kurdistan, the UN, the Iraqi government, the Kurdistan Democratic Forces (KDP) were not involved. That shows their approval and partnership of the international coalition.
Therefore, the severe isolation imposed upon Kurdish People’s leader Öcalan and the silence of the Council of Europe and the CPT against this isolation; The occupation of Afrin (Efrin), Ras al-Ayn (Serêkaniyê) and Tell Abyad (Girê Spî); Turkey, an agreement with the KDP and Iraqi partnership against Sinjar all show cooperation. There is a direct and strong relationship between the detention, arrest and punishment threats against the Peoples Democratic Party (HDP), the seizure of municipalities and the pressure in Germany, France and Sweden.