Germany’s Kurdish community and a wide range of supporters from across the country will convene in Berlin on 18 November to protest against the 30-year ban on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), criticised as a concession to Turkey and a ‘black mark’ on German democracy.
The protest, coinciding with the anniversary of the implementation of the ban in 1993, will call for it to be lifted, highlighting its impact on the Kurdish community in Germany.
Protesters will arrive from cities across Germany, including Frankfurt, Hanau, Darmstadt and Cologne, to express their opposition to the ban. The PKK ban has been a source of contention for three decades, with implications of criminalisation of the Kurdish community and alignment with Turkish political interests.
“The PKK ban has made all Kurds living in Germany into suspicious persons. It creates an environment in which the entire community is criminalised. They are trying to subdue and intimidate the community with this prohibitive approach,” Frieda Gertar, an activist from the PKK Verbot Aufheben (Lift the PKK Ban) initiative, stated.
Andrea Etkar, another activist from the initiative, commented on the ban’s broader impact: “This ban silences the voices of hundreds of thousands of Kurds living in Germany. They are criminalised, and their reactions and demands are ignored. And this unlawful, anti-democratic attitude has continued for 30 years. This is a black mark on German democracy.”
The PKK Verbot Aufheben initiative, comprising over 50 organisations from Germany, Switzerland and Austria, advocates for the lifting of the PKK ban. The initiative emphasises the ban’s role in suppressing Kurdish voices and its impact on democratic practices in Germany.
Adding to the ongoing discussion, the Association of Democratic Lawyers (Vereinigung Demokratischer Juristinnen und Juristen), a prominent German human rights organisation, has issued a statement challenging the rationale behind the PKK ban. The Association asserted that the ban serves more as a political tool benefiting the Turkish government rather than a measure addressing genuine German security concerns. Furthermore, the Association highlighted a significant shift in the PKK’s stance, noting that the organisation had publicly sworn off violence in Germany since 1995. This change, they argue, renders the continuation of the PKK ban unjustified. The Association demanded the ban be lifted, criminal prosecution of the PKK be revoked, sanctions under immigration law be terminated, amnesty be granted to PKK members and supporters, the PKK be removed from the EU terror list and peace talks between the Turkish government and the PKK be encouraged.