🔴 Mark Campbell, British journalist for Medya News and Kurdish rights activist, is preparing to face a judge on Friday over terrorism charges. #MedyaNews | #PKK | #Kurdish | #Humanrightshttps://t.co/fGRm6opn6d pic.twitter.com/SuVtaQcFox
— MedyaNews (@1MedyaNews) November 18, 2022
Mark Campbell, British journalist for Medya News and Kurdish rights activist, is preparing to face a judge on Friday over terrorism charges. Campbell is accused of displaying the flag the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is included in Britain’s list of terrorist organisations.
The activist says it is “not a crime but an honour” to carry the PKK flag, and has used the charges against him as an opportunity to further argue that the PKK should be removed from the list, making a public appeal for support prior to the hearing.
“You harass us, but you never charge us,” Campbell told officers as he was apprehended during the demonstration in April. “We want our day in court.”
“I want to be charged, so the whole public can hear this,” Campbell said. “I am fighting to decriminalise the PKK, and I would love my day in court.”
“You know you are doing the work of the Turkish state, don’t you?” Campbell pleaded with the officers. “The British government has a relationship with Turkey, and that is the reason you’re doing this. Obviously you don’t know, but that is the reason.”
Campbell has argued for years that the PKK should not be on Britain’s terrorist organisations list, and believes British anti-terror legislation poses a direct threat to rights to protest and to free expression.
Britain’s criminalisation of the Kurdish movement is “purely political”, Campbell told Medya News in an interview. “It’s purely political because of the arms sales that the British government do with Turkey.”
According to the Medya News journalist, a recent MI5 report had “no mention of the PKK”, which he said does not pose a threat to the British government at all. “It is not right that a democratic country carries out this barbaric criminalisation and repression of an oppressed people on behalf of one of the world’s worst abusers of human rights,” he said.
Campbell said the PKK was not a criminal organisation, but a warring party that has signed the Geneva Convention. The organisation was included in the United States’ list of terrorist organisations in 1997, followed by Britain in 2000 and the European Union in 2002.
The Council of the European Union argues that the PKK cannot be delisted without a peace settlement, Tamara Buruma of the legal team representing the PKK said in April. The team argues that such a stipulation is “unfair” due to the Turkish government’s active refusal to engage, and notes that the PKK “is very much trying to achieve that peace” despite said Turkish intransigence.
Campbell had at the time interviewed Buruma, who thinks Turkey was using the terrorist label in a disproportionate way and broadening its scope to the point of stifling democracy and freedom of expression.
Belgium’s Supreme Court has since ruled that the PKK was not a terrorist organisation, and observers expect the EU as a whole to rethink the listing. However, since Brexit, it is unclear how the United Kingdom will be affected by any such decision.