Germany issued a ban on the PKK on 26 November 1993, at the height of Turkey’s systematic destruction of Kurdish villages in the south east of Turkey, the then German Federal Minister of the Interior, Manfred Kanther, issued a ban on the PKK in Germany.
This essentially aided the Turkish government in quashing any opposition to Turkey’s ethnic cleansing campaign against the Kurds in the south east of Turkey and helped to criminalise the Kurdish issue and Kurdish community in Europe.
The ban continues to this day and Germany have been one of Turkey’s closest allies in repressing Kurdish political voices in the European Union.
Just this weekend, a demonstration protesting against Turkey’s illegal invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan on 17 April and the Turkish army’s continued attacks in North and East Syria was brutally attacked under the pretence & justification of a few ‘banned flags’ and so video footage is seen of Kurds in Berlin having escaped brutal repression in Turkey now being held in tight neck locks and beaten with hard wooden batons of the German police.
Clearly this legislation is being used to repress peaceful demonstrations with the purpose of helping the Turkish government in its campaign to annihilate the Kurdish movement.
On the 10 May lawyers Dr Peer Stolle and Dr Lukas Theune made an official application to Germany’s Federal Interior Ministry to lift the ban on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Germany. This application has been submitted following two other significant cases that have also gone through European courts recently.
One, the now famous ‘Belgium case’ where Belgium lawyers successfully argued that the PKK was not a ‘terrorist’ organisation but rather it is party to a conflict, a ruling that was upheld by Belgium’s highest court of appeal.
And a legal case also continues at the European Union level over the PKK’s proscription in the block’s list of proscribed organisations.The last and final hearing at the Court of Justice of the European Union was held on 31 March of this year, with a ruling expected at the end of the year.
So, what lies behind the latest submission to lift the PKK ban in Germany and what are its chances of success?
I’m very honoured and pleased to say that today we are joined by Dr. Nick Brauns who is a German researcher, journalist and writer who has closely followed the developments in Turkey and Kurdistan over the years. He is the author of many books, articles and research on relations of the German state with Turkey and Kurdistan.
I began the interview by asking Dr Brauns if he could give us a little bit more historical background to the PKK ban in Germany, just how serious it has been, and what affect has it had on the Kurdish diaspora community.
He explained in graphic and disturbing detail how the PKK was banned in Germany and what the consequences of that ban was for ordinary Kurdish people and the community in Germany. He said this could lead to raids, imprisonment and deportation by the authorities who wanted to show Turkey they were repressing the Kurdish movement. But it also criminalised a community who would be stigmatised by the label and seen as ‘terrorist’ supporters leading to difficulties in getting housing and employment.
Lawyers Dr Peer Stolle and Dr Lukas Theune have made an official application to Germany’s Federal Interior Ministry on 10 May to lift the ban on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Germany, I asked Dr Brauns about this application and what in his opinion, are it’s chances of success?
He said that just hours after the application was submitted government spokespeople were on television saying how the PKK would remain on the list of proscribed organisations, so he was not so hopeful this time but he said it was important for the lawyers to submit the case as the government will have to give a written response and this will give the lawyers further grounds for further submissions. Dr Brauns briefly explained some of the lawyers reasons for applying to remove the PKK such as that the organisation does not represent a threat to Germany and does not use violence in Europe as it is solely engaged in a military conflict with the Turkish state.
Dr Brauns also spoke about how the German government had manufactured images last Saturday of German police brutally attacking a peaceful demonstration in Berlin just at the same time as the Turkish foreign minister was in town to voice his objections to Finland and Sweden joining NATO.
Dr Brauns said that for an application to be successful it needs a lot of pressure. Pressure from the street, diplomatic pressure and also pressure from the Kurdish movement as the ban is a political gesture to Turkey and Turkey and Germany relations go back 150 years and are very close.
Please listen to the podcast for the whole interview.