Statement by AZADI – Legal Aid Advocacy for Kurds in Germany

On 8th December the 41-year old Kurdish exile politician, Vezir T., was arrested by the State Office for Criminal Investigations in Hanau. According to the Federal Public Prosecutor (GBA), he was “a PKK cadre” in charge of the areas of Sachsen (Saxony), Sachsen-Anhalt, and parts of Thüringen and Brandenburg between June 2008 and July 2009. In this role, he allegedly organised demonstrations and events, and was responsible for the provision of propaganda material.

The accused has already appeared before a German Higher Regional Court, when, in 2000, he was sentenced for political activity under article 129 of the German Criminal Code.

While the Turkish AKP government plans to employs special task forces, who – as reported in the Süddeutsche Zeitung on 9th December – have orders to murder 300 of the leading PKK members, and while more than 4,500 people in the last month alone were arrested for allegedly supporting terrorism, the German authorities have shown their allegiance to the Turkish regime. With their decision made on 28th October 2010, the Federal High Court of Justice made it possible for criminal prosecutors to prosecute in future politically active Kurds in Germany as “alleged members of a foreign terrorist organisations of the PKK” (article 129). Whereas, after the introduction of article 129b in 2002, the “liberal” Ministry of Justice “only” issued authorisation for prosecution by this law on a case-by-case basis at first, the authorities have since 6th September made article 129b universally applicable. This means that political activists have been declared outlaws. This law can now be used on those responsible for the work in different sections, regions and areas of the PKK and its partner organisation in Europe, the KCK (Kurdish Democratic Coordination), and even “for past or future acts”.

Since July, Vezir T. is now the fourth Kurdish activist to be arrested as a result of alleged membership of a “foreign terrorist organisation” and the fourth to find himself in custody. In Switzerland, another Kurd is in detention awaiting extradition after an investigation by the state prosecutors – this case is yet to be concluded after months of ongoing legal proceedings. Since 23rd August appeal proceedings have been taking place before the Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main, for the case of Kurdish exile politician, Vakuf M., charged under article 129b of the German criminal code. His trial practically formed the basis for the far-reaching decision made by the Federal High Court of Justice in October 2010.

The justification given by the Federal Public Prosecutors for this prosecution under article 129b of the Criminal Code is based on the assumption that the PKK are planning to establish a “state-like structure in the Kurdish regions”, that they have “military-structured guerrilla units” at their disposal, and that they perpetrate “attacks on the Turkish police and soldiers”. In Germany and “other Western European countries”, the members supposedly have the task of “sourcing finances for the organisation and recruiting candidates for guerrilla training”.

As the defence for Vakuf M. made clear at the beginning of the trial, with regard to these accusations, the courts are forced to study the background and history of the Turkish-Kurdish conflict, and “further investigate the genesis and dynamics of the conflict”. It is undoubtedly an armed conflict in terms of international law. They also have to look at the massive breaches of the international law of war by Turkish military forces, in particular, the “use of chemical weapons”. The trial is to finish by the end of the year.

Translated from German original

12 December 2011