Medya News interviewed the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council Member Zübeyir Aydar, a former MP in the Turkish parliament and one of the Kurdish political figure whom the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently asked to be silenced by Swedish authorities.
Aydar recently joined as a speaker in a conference at the Swedish parliament on 27 April to express his views on ‘issues surrounding democracy in Turkey and the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] ban.’
Opposing Sweden and Finland joining NATO, Turkey blocked an early move to fast-track the two countries’ requests on Wednesday, demanding they extradite “terrorists” and that the alliance respect its concerns.
Ann Linde, Swedish foreign minister, responded on Friday with a tweet saying that Sweden listed the PKK as a terrorist group before everyone else. She said:
“Due to the vastly spread disinformation about Sweden and PKK, we would like to recall that the Swedish Government of Olof Palme was first after Turkey to list PKK as a terrorist organization, already in 1984. EU followed suit 2002, when Anna Lindh was Swedish FM. This position remains unchanged.”
Medya News: Swedish foreign minister Ann Linde responded to Turkish president Erdoğan with a tweet, saying that it was Olof Palme’s Sweden in 1984 that first listed the PKK as a terror group, and that the EU followed to do so much later in 2002. Was this the kind of response you were expecting?
Zübeyir Aydar: As a matter of fact I wasn’t expecting such a cheap response from the minister to the blackmails of an autocrat like Erdoğan. The response is both full of errors, and it also is befitting of Sweden in terms of stance and approach. It reflects an approach that ignores the sensitivities of the Kurdish people.
Actually the minister knows better than anyone else that the PKK is a liberation movement. She’s also aware that this terror label is unjust and harms the just struggle of a people immensely. Olof Palme was a friend of the Kurdish people like he was a friend of all oppressed people. The efforts to blame PKK in the case of his assassination was one of the greatest conspiracies in history. In June 2020, 35 years after the murder, as the chief prosecutor announced that the case was closed, a statement was released saying that PKK was among the victims of the case. While we, Kurds, have been expecting an official apology from the state of Sweden, Linde’s response to Erdoğan’s blackmail is at the least unfortunate.
On the other hand, PKK has never been labeled as a terror organisation in the context of Swedish laws. The constitution of Sweden does not have an article for labeling an organisation as a terror organisation. I’d also like to further note that PKK was first listed as a terror group by the United States in 1997, by the United Kingdom in 2000, and by the EU in 2002. The Swedish parliament ratified this move in 2002 because of the EU legislation that requires member states to follow a procedure, only after vigorous discussions, and there is no legal ground to implement this decision in Sweden.
While this is the case, and considering a high court’s decision in Belgium and rulings by the Court of Justice of the EU, it has been officially acknowledged that PKK is the representative of Kurdish people’s struggle for liberation, and that it is one of the actors in the conflict.
I call upon the Western countries, particularly upon Sweden and Finland, not to give in to the blackmails of Erdoğan’s Turkey. I call upon the civil society and political organisations in Sweden and Finland to oversee that their governments do not make concessions against the just struggle of the Kurdish people.
Is the issue concerned here Sweden, or is it about meeting in a halfway with the US?
Erdogan is actually trying to strengthen his hand by saying Sweden is a terror incubator, or a terror nest. There is a multifaceted plan. He is addressing Sweden and Finland on the one hand, and the US on the other. He is trying to get concessions from the US on issues such as arms sales, the Halk Bank trial, and moves to be made by IMF. He is trying to negotiate. This is also a message to other NATO countries, in the specific to Sweden. On the one hand, he winks at Russia, which is against NATO’s expansion. He is trying to get a favourable result. Whether he achieves or not will depend on our own struggle and the struggle of our friends.
Among the demands by Turkey is reportedly a demand that you should not be allowed to speak in the parliaments of two countries.
Turkey set ten conditions. In one of these, my name was mentioned. It seems that our moves offended their feelings. He [Erdoğan] says, ‘These people should not make appearances.’ This is not a demand addressing only Sweden, but a message to all NATO countries. But this will not work. We will continue with our struggle at every level. Two days ago I was in the European Parliament for meetings. People will not close the doors to us just because Erdoğan wanted them to. We have our own contacts as well.
Have you taken any steps in Sweden regarding latest developments? Do you think that the Swedish government will make concessions to Ankara?
Turkey is all-out attacking the Kurds. It is attacking the values of the Kurds in Rojava [Northeast Syria], and Sout Kurdistan [Kurdistan Region of Iraq]. It uses chemical weapons several times every day in South Kurdistan. It takes a hard line with the people in North Kurdistan [Kurdish-majority provinces in Turkey]. There are more than ten thousand political prisoners there. Torture and ill-treatment have become a common practice in Turkish prisons. There are deaths in prisons. The government blocs the paths of democratic politics completely. It is crushing all opposition.
We are calling out upon all NATO countries, the Western bloc, Sweden, and Finland. Do not use us to negotiate with Turkey. Do not support or be a partner in Turkey’s war and war crimes in Kurdistan. Turkey and Erdogan should not shape up your Kurdish policy. Do not let yourselves descend to the position that Turkey and Erdogan want. Make friends with the Kurdish people. Do not face the opposition of the Kurdish people. We say this to all NATO countries, the entire Western bloc, and Sweden and Finland in particular: We want to be friends with you. The Kurds are extending a friendly hand to you. You can take precautions for your safety, but we do not want you to use us to negotiate with Turkey.