Kurdish rights activist and Medya News journalist Mark Campbell, together with Kurdish activist Beritan Silemani, faced a court on Friday on accusations of terrorism.
The pair are facing charges over holding a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) flag in an April demonstration in London.
“We will never accept the criminalisation of the Kurdish struggle,” Campbell told reporters ahead of the hearing. “We are proud to raise our voices and to hold the symbol of the Kurdish people’s struggle.”
The veteran activist, who has campaigned for years for the PKK to be removed from Britain’s list of terrorist organisations, said his home country was in “complicity with the genocidal policies against the Kurdish people”, particularly by Turkey.
Silemani was first detained after she threw a shoe filled with eggs at Iraqi Kurdish Prime Minister Masrour Barzani as his convoy passed the protesters during the same demonstration.
“We will defend this flag with a spirit of resistance,” Silemani said.
Human rights defender Margaret Oven, journalist Rahila Gupta, scholar Lida Kayhko, researcher Charlotte Grace, activist Katie Higgins and Kurdish politicians Hevan Şivan, Ercan Akbal and Türkan Budak and writer Ali Boyraz attended the hearing.
The activists reject the court’s assertion that carrying symbols constitute a crime. Campbell told Kurdish news agency ANF that Britain was “politicising the judiciary in favour of one of the most repressive regimes in the world”.
“The true crime is Britain selling weapons to the Turkish state,” rights defender Margaret Ovens said. “If it is a crime to defend a people and their values, we will continue to commit this crime.”
The next hearing will be on 22 February next year.