The authors of a book discussing the criminalisation of Kurdish life in Germany allege that pressure from the Turkish Consulate resulted in the cancellation of their Mannheim event, implying potential compliance by German authorities.
Alexander Glasner-Hummel, co-author with Kerem Schamberg, announced the cancellation of their book reading in Mannheim, initially scheduled for Tuesday, 28 November. The event, focusing on their new book ‘Escaped. Forbidden. Excluded – How the Kurdish Diaspora in Germany is Being Silenced’, was called off citing safety concerns.
The book, nearly sold out in its first edition within four weeks, explores the criminalisation of Kurdish life in Germany, the repression against the Kurdish freedom movement and the three-decade-long ban on Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) activity in Germany. The authors argue that the PKK ban, ostensibly targeted at a single organisation, effectively excludes thousands of Kurdish voices from democratic discourse in Germany, describing it as a deficit in German democracy.
The Turkish Consulate in Germany is accused of exerting significant pressure on the Bürgerhaus Neckarstadt West, leading to the venue’s withdrawal of hosting the event. The organisers, including DIE LINKE Mannheim and a Kurdish association in Neckarstadt, received the cancellation notice about just one day before the event.
The event’s promotional material, featuring the book’s cover and event details, mentioned the PKK due to its relevance in the discussion, not as an endorsement. Glasner-Hummel emphasises that the authors are German citizens, with one having Turkish heritage, and the organising party being a German political party. He stresses that the subject is germane to German democracy.
Glasner-Hummel, who has never been active in the Kurdish movement, emphasised that he approaches the subject from a social science perspective. The book’s publication by a major German publisher and the authors’ backgrounds highlight the importance of this discussion in the context of German democracy. The inability to hold this discussion, as Glasner-Hummel notes, may point to a larger democratic deficit than the book itself analyses.
Civan Akbulut, a member of the Integration Council in Essen, Germany, has also voiced his concerns. Akbulut, who is also actively involved in German politics, pointed out that the intervention by the Turkish Consulate in such cultural and academic events is not a new phenomenon in Germany. According to him, there have been numerous instances where the Turkish Consulate has either prevented or attempted to prevent similar events from taking place. This pattern of interference suggests a more systemic issue of external influence on events related to Kurdish issues and human rights in Germany, extending beyond the single incident in Mannheim.
Moreover, Akbulut underscored the irony inherent in the situation. ‘Escaped. Forbidden. Excluded – How the Kurdish Diaspora in Germany is Being Silenced,” directly addresses the theme of silencing Kurdish voices and the challenges to democracy and freedom of expression in Germany. The fact that an event discussing these very issues was allegedly shut down by the Turkish Consulate in Germany highlights the real-time relevance and urgency of the book’s subject matter.