Germany banned the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on 26 November 1993. As the 30th anniversary of the proscription approaches, the Kurdish diaspora have been staging a month-long series of protests against the German parliament’s on-going criminalisation of the Kurdish armed political movement. The large-scale demonstrations were marked by heavy-handed police intervention, with several arrests.
#PODCAST | German lawyer Anna Magdalena Busl has given an exclusive interview to #MedyaNews. "All the bans, on #demonstrations, meetings, are nothing but the denial of basic democratic rights," she says.
— MedyaNews (@1MedyaNews) November 20, 2023
In the midst of the popular demonstrations, Anna Magdalena Busl, a lawyer from Bonn, Germany, talked to journalist Erem Kansoy about the criminalisation of the PKK in Germany, the relationship between Germany and Turkey, and what can be done to challenge the ban.
Busl stressed that effectively, the ban makes it legal to persecute the Kurdish community in Germany. Any “totally legal” activity, like attending meetings or street demonstrations, she said, can be seen as an expression of support for the PKK, therefore putting the individual at risk of prosecution.
Kansoy asked the lawyer whether the current approach towards the PKK can be seen as a form of collective punishment or criminalisation of the entire Kurdish community in Germany. “Yes, it can,” Busl said. “..any commitment to the Kurdish cause or activities towards changing the situation in Turkey regarding the Kurdish issue or progression of democracy can be prosecuted because it is linked – in the eyes of the prosecutors – to the PKK.”
The PKK ban does not align with Germany’s principles of democratic freedom, the lawyer stressed. “All the bans, on demonstrations, meetings […] Are nothing but the denial of basic democratic rights. Democratic meetings are denied, banned, and often at the request of the secret service, and this means nothing but the abolition of democratic rights.”
Busl reiterated that there was no justification for the ban. “There has been an evaluation of it and it is proven that there is no crime, and no threat to internal security [in Germany],” she added.
Kansoy went on to ask what the legal and ethical implications of a continuation of the PKK ban might be from a human rights perspective. Busl said:
“If rights are denied for a part of the population, in this case for the Kurdish community […] then this effects the entire society.[…] If you ban [rights] for one part, then that means there is a ban or abolition on democratic rights [for the country]”.
The PKK was designated as a terrorist organisation by the European Union in 2002, a decade after the PKK ban was introduced in Germany. Had Germany’s stance on the PKK influenced European Union policy regarding the Kurdish issue? “Germany plays a big role, politically, economically in the European Union, and therefore, sure, it is trying to influence other countries in its favour, to punish [PKK members] as terrorists, and not accept that it is an international conflict,” Busl explained.
“In Belgium there was a trial against PKK members on charges of terrorism ended with the finding that the PKK is an actor in an international conflict, and the members are therefore not terrorists. And this led to Germany putting pressure against the finishing of the case, because it is not the point of view of Germany,” she added.
In conclusion, Busl proposed her view, from a legal perspective, on what pathways are available for challenging the PKK ban. She said:
“We must continue to fight […] so that it is finally recognised that: First, Turkey is the aggressor against which the Kurdish population can defend itself; and second, that it is a conflict in sense of international law, and not about terror.
“This means that the terror comes not from the Kurdish people or the Kurdish struggle but from the fascist dictatorship in Turkey. […] We have to fight for no more cooperation between the Federal Republic of Germany and […] the regime in Turkey.”
Audio: “Political Dialogue with Erem Kansoy”