The foreign relations committee of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on Sunday condemned certain Swedish officials who have made statements accusing the Kurdistan freedom movement of recruiting people and raising funds for terrorist activity.
“We would like to state from the outset that the PKK is a political party that works for the liberation of Kurdistan and the freedom of the Kurdish people, and it has paid a great price for this,” the PKK said in a statement.
“Despite the fact that this is the truth, the Turkish state and its collaborators do not hesitate to resort to all kinds of lies, deceit and slander in order to criminalise our party,” it added.
Members of the Kurdistan freedom movement living in Sweden have become the central issue of the talks between Ankara and Stockholm over the Nordic country’s bid for NATO membership.
Since last summer, Turkey has been blocking Sweden and Finland’s membership to the alliance, asking the governments of both governments to deport those people Ankara labels as terrorists and to take action against the PKK’s activities in the two countries.
The PKK in its statement particularly addressed Sweden’s chief negotiator Oscar Stenström who has been leading efforts to bypass Turkey’s veto power in NATO.
“In an interview with a Swedish radio channel, Mr. Stenström said that our party was financed by a number of criminals in Sweden who are involved in crimes such as extortion, weapons and drugs, and mentioned the name Kurdish Fox,” the PKK said.
“This is an entirely fabricated accusation, to please Mr. Stenström’s Turkish interlocutors. The statement also contains inconsistencies within itself. We do not know who the ‘Kurdish Fox’ is, and we have no relationship with him,” it added.
The party of the Kurdish freedom movement said not only Stenström but also Sweden’s Foreign Minister Tobias Billström recently made similar statements on the PKK to please the Turkish government.
“The Swedish government can improve its relations with Turkey, nobody has anything against that. But we say: Don’t negotiate and bargain over us, over the Kurds, don’t support Erdoğan who has blood on his hands and is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in our country,” the PKK said, referring to the Turkish President.
Swedish officials have ramped up statements against the PKK after Ankara signalled that it might approve Finland’s NATO membership but put Sweden on hold following the burning of Quran and the hanging of an effigy of the Turkish president in different protests in the Nordic country.
The Swedish security police Säpo joined the accusations against the PKK on Saturday, with its deputy head of counter-terrorism Susanna Trehörning stating that the PKK has been raising substantial amounts in Sweden to finance terrorist activities.
Saying that the PKK does not pose a direct threat to Sweden, Trehörning stated that PKK activities in Sweden mainly focused on recruitment and financing.
“We work continuously to gather information, increase knowledge and, where applicable, identify actors who actually commit these crimes and step in with some form of criminal investigation or some other form of limitation” she said.
According to Trehörning, investigations into terrorist groups might increase after the introduction of new anti-terror law in Sweden this year.
“The basis for our work is, among other things, the rights protected by the constitution – that you can protest, demonstrate, hold opinions. It is not something the Security Police will look into,” said Trehörning, when asked whether someone wearing the PKK symbol in a demonstration would be charged with sympathising with a terrorist group.