The London Kurdish Community Centre in Haringey faced an unprecedented police raid during a family event on Monday night, an action that follows the UK’s recent security agreement with Turkey.
This raid, coinciding with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) 45th anniversary celebration, involved numerous anti-terror officers and was focused on the display of PKK flags. It led to a prolonged stand-off with community members, who protested outside the centre, challenging what they saw as an infringement on their cultural and civil rights.
Following closely after a meeting in Ankara between UK Defence Minister Grant Shapps and Turkish Defence Minister Yaşar Güler, this police action has raised questions about the UK’s application of the Terrorism Act in the context of international politics.
The Kurdish Assembly in London issued a strongly worded statement against the raid, characterising it as an aggressive and unwarranted attack on a cultural gathering. “Last night, the Kurdish People’s Democratic Assembly in Haringey, London, was subject to nothing short of an aggressive invasion by the police,” they said. “There were no warrants and no legitimate reason for the aggression and violence that they conducted themselves with against a community of civilians celebrating a cultural event.”
The Assembly linked this action to the UK’s recent defence talks with Turkey, suggesting foreign influence might be leading to an increase in the use of Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act against their community.
The Assembly also highlighted the historical context, mentioning the 100th anniversary of the division of Kurdistan by the Sykes-Picot agreement and the continuous persecution faced by the Kurdish people.
They emphasised the UK government’s stance towards Turkey, despite its alleged human rights violations, stating, “Yet what we are seeing is that, despite Turkey’s support for the ISIS insurgency in North and East Syria, the ethnic cleansing they have committed in Afrîn, and their heinous violations of human rights in Turkish prisons, as members of NATO, Grant Shapps and the UK government would have us believe that they are valuable allies whose ‘influence cannot be underestimated.'”
The Assembly called for unity among the UK’s ethnic, religious, and cultural groups to fight against the criminalisation of minority communities, particularly through the misuse of the Terrorism Act. “The Metropolitan Police should not be a ‘for hire’ mercenary service to do the bidding of foreign dictatorships, and UK politicians must not be able to use the means of the justice system to advance their own political agendas,” they appealed.