Kurdish campaigners gathered in Brussels on Tuesday to submit signatures to the EU Commission for the removal of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from the European Union’s (EU) list of terrorist organisations.
At the European Kurdish Democratic Societies Congress’ (KCDK-E) call on Friday, Kurds and their supporters from all over Europe joined a press conference held in front of the EU Commission office in Belgium’s capital prior to the submission of the signatures.
The campaigners stated that there were overwhelming practical grounds for delisting the PKK as well as legal grounds.
“The activities of Kurds in Europe are being banned, illegalised and terrorised by this prohibition,” the Kurdish Democratic Council of France (CDK-F) Co-chair Abdullah Ülmez told MedyaHaber, “and the insistence of the listing has been continued for 30 years without any legal basis and without any judicial justification.”
According to Ülmez, to continue to uphold the decision to include PKK on the terrorism list, which was taken under the guidance of NATO, was now meaningless to Europeans.
The Justice for Kurds international initiative, established in November 2021 by renowned intellectuals including Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelineck and philosopher Slavoj Žižek, has been gathering signatures for over a year.
Many public figures from around the globe supported the campaign, which launced with the goal of collecting four million signatures. Among the signatories were film-makers Ken Loach and Paul Laverty, American author and activist Lucina Kathmann, Mexican poet, writer and editor Judyth Hill, Hungarian philosopher Gáspár Miklós Tamás, Scottish novelist James Kelman, and Italian cartoonist Michele Rech, known as Zerocalcare.
The PKK was added to the terror list in 2002 at the request of NATO member Turkey. In 2008, the Court of First Instance, the EU’s second-highest court, ruled that the decision to put the PKK on the terror list was illegal because the decision had not been properly justified.
The EU’s highest Court, the Court of Justice in Luxembourg similarly ruled in 2018, that the PKK was unjustly included on the EU terror list between 2014 and 2017. In addition to procedural errors, the judgement also refers to Abdullah Öcalan’s call for peace in 2013.
Recently in 2022, Belgium’s Foreigners Litigation Council ruled that the acts committed by the PKK cannot be considered terrorist acts as a whole because it is a party in a non-international armed conflict, which makes it subject to the laws of war and not criminal law.