British journalist in Medya News and Kurdish rights activist Mark Campbell has been charged under anti-terrorism legislation for displaying a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) flag at a march in London.
Britain includes the PKK on its list of “terrorist organisations”, and Campbell was charged under anti-terror laws.
In a change.org petition, “I’m not guilty of terrorism! Take PKK off UK’s Terrorist List!” Campbell made a public appeal for support prior to his hearing. He said, “Kurds are being jailed in Turkey every day under the label of ‘supporting terrorism'”.
Campbell explains how the Turkish state has framed the Kurdish issue from an angle of ‘security’.
And now, the UK is using this legislation to criminalise the Kurds and supporters in the same way, he said.
The British government is attempting to criminalise Kurds on behalf of the Turkish state, said Campbell, who has been an activist for Kurdish rights for 30 years.
In a recent podcast, top British human rights lawyer Alastair Lyon told Campbell that the introduction of the terrorism act by the UK government in 2000 was, “a foreign policy decision masquerading as a criminal justice decision,” and added that it “was a political choice” to categorise the pro-Kurdish political party, the PKK, on the list of terrorists.
The “UK government has politicised the law in favour of Turkey”, said the lawyer.
“The PKK does not represent a threat to the UK in any way, shape or form… On the contrary, the PKK have defended the Kurdish people in Turkey against a state policy of forced assimilation, denying them their ancient culture, language and identity,” said Campbell.
“And in August 2014, the PKK came down from the mountains to help save the Yazidis from a genocidal attack by ISIS, and also helped the Kurds in Syria to defeat ISIS most notably in the heroic battle of Kobane 2014-2015,” he added, in his campaign.
“Today Turkey are still destroying towns, bombing villages criminalising elected Kurdish politicians and mayors and still attempting to ‘forcibly assimilate’ the Kurds against their will to ‘be Turks’ and still labelling any Kurds who do not submit to their will, as ‘terrorists’,” the journalist previously wrote.
‘The Belgian Supreme Court has recently delisted the PKK as a terror organisation. It’s time for other countries to follow suit,’ said political editor Matt Broomfield, in light of court proceedings in Luxembourg aimed at reaching a decision on the long-standing case regarding the listing of the PKK by the European Union as a ‘terrorist organisation’.
“We must look at our own courts to reassess the status of the PKK, and to ensure that Kurdish collective rights are upheld as a people and we continue to support their struggle for liberation, autonomy and democracy,” said Labour MP Kim Johnson at this year’s Labour Conference.
According to his appeal in change.org, Mark’s arrest letter reads: ‘On 23rd April 2022, in a public place, namely Whitehall, London [Mark Campbell] displayed an article, namely a flag, in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that you were a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation, namely PKK.’
Campbell was initially arrested at a march in Whitehall, London, in his words, for “holding up a very large PKK flag, to make a very big political statement”.
At the time, Campbell said such an arrest “should worry every UK citizen who upholds the ideas of freedom of expression and human rights.”
Campbell’s first court appearance will be on 18 November 2022 at 9am at Westminster Magistrates Court.