The London Kurdish Community Centre in Haringey was subject to a police raid on Sunday evening, coinciding with the celebrations of the 45th anniversary of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The raid prompted substantial protests from the local Kurdish community.
As the evening celebrations were about to commence, over a hundred anti-terror officers cordoned off the building. The apparent reason for the police intervention was the display of PKK flags.
Upon the raid’s commencement, members of the Kurdish community rapidly gathered at the centre in protest. The police, enforcing a perimeter, did not allow the crowd to enter, leading to an extended stand-off outside the premises. The protesters remained outside the centre until late into the night, voicing opposition to the raid.
This police action closely follows a high-level meeting in Ankara between UK Defence Minister Grant Shapps and Turkish Defence Minister Yaşar Güler. In this meeting, discussions on Middle Eastern collaboration and a “Defence Cooperation Intent Declaration” were concluded, alongside an arms deal. The timing of the raid, in the context of these recent diplomatic developments and the UK’s efforts to maintain strong ties with Turkey, a key NATO ally, has raised questions about potential political motivations behind the police action.
Following the police raid of Sunday night, the Kurdish Assembly in London released a statement on Monday morning. They said that the police had raided without warrants or any legitimate reason, conducting themselves with “violence and aggression” to disrupt a cultural celebration attended by families and children. They pointed out that this occurred two days after the UK defence minister had met with his Turkish counterpart “to enhance defence and security cooperation”, accusing UK politicians of “misuse of the Terrorism Act” and the justice system to “advance their own political agendas”.