European politicians joined the campaign for the removal of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from the EU’s list of terrorist organisations, as campaigners submitted three million signatures to the European Commission on Tuesday.
The politicians joined European Kurds and their supporters in Brussels to call on the EU and member states to recognise the PKK as “the political party of the Kurdish people”.
The PKK “guarantees democracy and peace not just for Kurds but in all of the Middle East,” said European Kurdistan Democratic Societies Congress (KCDK-E) co-chair Yüksel Koç at a press conference held prior to submitting the signatures.
“The European Left demands that the PKK be removed from the list. The PKK’s and Kurdish people’s demand is a peaceful solution,” said European Left Party President Dr Walter Baier.
Daniel Kopp, a representative of the Progressive International Organisation, mentioned Germany’s recent recognition of the Yazidi genocide, and said the PKK played a significant role in the liberation of Sinjar (Shengal) Yazidis from Islamic State (ISIS).
“PKK guerrillas opened up a corridor for the rescue of those people. The people of Shengal were saved thanks to the PKK. That the PKK, as the protector of the Yazidi people, is on the same list as ISIS, is incomprehensible and unacceptable. Putting the PKK on that list is illegal,” Kopp said.
The Belgian judiciary has also ruled that the PKK is not a terrorist organisation. “The PKK is a party in a non-international armed conflict”, said Ludo de Brabander of the Belgian Peace Organisation, calling the group’s inclusion on the EU terrorism list “shameful”.
“Kurdish institutions should be recognised rather than criminalised,” said de Brabander. “The PKK is the side that defends peace. We will continue to stand in solidarity with the Kurdish people.”
Erik Erdman from the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25) argued that the PKK’s inclusion on the list was for purely political reasons and that the prison conditions of the organisation’s leader Abdullah Öcalan, held in İmralı Island Prison in Turkey, were illegal. Erdman recently travelled to Turkey as a member of the International Delegation Against Isolation.
Former Norwegian MP and writer Erling Folkvord stated that the PKK had shown its desire for peace 30 years ago by declaring the first ceasefire. Recalling the 2015 peace process, Folkvord noted that it was Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government who had overturned the negotiations. “If the EU wants peace in Turkey, the PKK should be off the list,” he said.
The PKK’s removal from the list would lead to Erdoğan having to shake hands with the group and find a solution to the Kurdish question, which would be the only path to peace, Folkvord said.
French MEP François Alfonsi on Wednesday tweeted, “Europe must stop legitimizing Erdoğan’s belligerent attitude against the Kurdish people. The Kurds are our allies. Erdogan = the Putin of tomorrow.”