The Justice for Kurds campaign has been gathering signatures for the removal of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from the European Union’s list of terrorist organisations for over a year, and is preparing to submit the signatures to the EU Commission in Brussels on 31 January.
The international initiative, established in November 2021 by renowned intellectuals including Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelineck and philosopher Slavoj Žižek, will hold a press conference ahead of the submission, to which the European Kurdish Democratic Societies Congress (KCDK-E) on Friday invited Kurds and their supporters in Europe to join.
“A peaceful solution to the Kurdish Question is a prerequisite for a healthy democracy and for stability in Turkey and the wider Middle East. Turkey and its large Kurdish community will be able to achieve that peaceful solution only through negotiations. Such negotiations need to involve all parties, including the PKK. The listing of the PKK as a terrorist organisation, however, is a barrier on the path to peace,” follows the call for the signature campaign.
More than a thousand artists, academics and philosophers from around the globe responded to the call by the end of 2021. Among the signatories were renowned public figures such as film-makers Ken Loach and Paul Laverty, American author and activist Lucina Kathmann, Mexican poet, writer and editor Judyth Hill, Hungarian philosopher Gáspár Miklós Tamás, Scottish novelist James Kelman, and Italian cartoonist Michele Rech, known as Zerocalcare. The campaign continued throughout 2022.
Both the United States and the European Union designate the PKK as a terrorist organisation. However, the designation has been controversial, both legally and politically.
In 2008, the Court of First Instance, the EU’s second-highest court, ruled that the decision to put the PKK on the terror list was illegal because the decision had not been properly justified.
Similarly in 2018, the General Court in Luxemburg determined that the Council of the European Union failed to provide the decision to list the PKK with sufficient reasons.
Recently in 2022, Belgium’s Foreigners Litigation Council ruled that the acts committed by the PKK cannot be considered terrorist acts as a whole.
The United States designating the PKK a terrorist organisation was a political move to appease NATO partner Turkey, Charles Lister, the Middle East Institute’s director of extremism and counterterrorism, told ABC in an earlier interview. “The crux of the whole problem is just how political the designation is.”
In 2014, a petition to delist the PKK, posted on the White House website’s “We the People” platform, gathered over 33,000 signatures.