A group of Swedish writers and other individuals on Tuesday raised their concerns about criminalisation of Kurds with the parliament as it was about to start to debate tougher anti-terrorism legislation in response to Turkey’s conditions for approval of Sweden’s membership of NATO.
Thirteen individuals including lawyers, writers, rights advocates and journalists called on the members of parliament “to think one more time before pressing the button” that would adopt the law.
The new anti-terror bill came onto Sweden’s political agenda when Turkey opposed the Swedish application for NATO membership after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The Turkish government has since set some conditions, including the extradition of people whom Turkey calls terrorists, and the Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has promised to comply with Turkish demands.
The group said that the last two Swedish governments had taken a series of measures to satisfy Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been maintaining a firm grip on all legislative, judicial and executive power.
In their statement, the individuals recalled Swedish foreign policy concessions, which include Sweden approving the export of military equipment to Turkey “which repeatedly wages war on its neighbouring countries” and Foreign Minister Tobias Billström distancing himself from the Kurdish liberation organisations People’s Defence Units (YPG) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria, “which successfully fought the world’s most dangerous terrorist movement, ISIS, on the ground.”
“But the more the government has given in, the more Erdoğan has insulted Sweden and demanded further concessions,” said the group. “In Erdogan’s rhetoric, it sounds as if Sweden is a province of Turkey. The president is using the Turkish veto in NATO to further increase the repression against the Kurds.”
The statement also indicates that the number of people Turkey wants Sweden to extradite has risen from 33 to 130, and that two Kurds were recently deported in spite of several prominent lawyers pointing out that the deportation of Kurds in need of protection is unlawful.
“We fear that the new law will affect Kurds and Swedish-Kurdish associations that mainly focus on culture and language – civil rights that Turkey has suppressed for almost a hundred years,” said the writers.
Under the new law, it would be a criminal offence to “take care of equipment, organise activities or be responsible for transport for a terrorist organisation”. Sweden’s Council on Legislation (Lagrådet)* has rejected the bill because there is “a clear risk that the law will involve criminalisation that is too far-reaching given the need that may exist”.
Meanwhile, Turkish Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın said on Wednesday, “The more effectively the anti-terrorism law that will come into force in June is implemented, the faster the process for Sweden’s NATO membership will move forward.”
*Sweden’s Council on Legislation (Lagrådet) scrutinises draft bills which the government intends to submit to the parliament. Its views are of an advisory nature, and are not binding on the government or the parliament.