28 May 2019|Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)
Oppose new powers to prosecute returnees from designated overseas areas
In the wake of the panic caused by British citizens travelling to North East Syria to join ISIS, and the terrorist threat they may pose upon their return, the British government rushed through the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019. It created a new offence of entering or remaining in a “designated area” overseas (Section 4, amending section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000). The offence would apply to UK nationals and residents, with a maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment, a fine, or both. A “reasonable excuse” defence is available; limited exceptions are permitted. But the onus is on the defendant to provide the reasonable excuse. In other words, this Act has eliminated the presumption of innocence and replaced it with a presumption of guilt.
On the 14 September of this year a judgement was handed down in the case of a group of Kurdish activists who faced trial on terrorism charges in Belgium. The defendants were acquitted as the court found that the PKK is not a terrorist organisation but rather a party to an internal armed conflict in Turkey.
This case in the Belgian Court of Appeal centred around the Defence proposition that the activities which the prosecution relied on to make out a case of terrorism occurred in the context of an internal armed conflict in Turkey and should therefore be governed by the rules of international humanitarian law rather than domestic terror provisions.
The question that fell to be considered by the court was whether or not the PKK was involved in an armed conflict in Turkey. If it was, then the domestic criminal law of Belgium would not apply and the matter would be subject to the Geneva Conventions, in international law. Continue reading “Belgian Court Rules that the PKK is Not a Terrorist Organisation.”
CAMPACC has initiated a research and outreach project which aims to critically examine the contradictions between national struggles for self-determination and the global ‘counter -terror’ regime, which has begun with a series of workshops focusing on key case studies – the Kurdish question; the Tamil struggle and the Somali struggle. Below is the report from their first workshop, which includes videos of each of the presentations.
On the 21st February 2015 CAMPACC, in association with SOAS Kurdish Society, hosted the first workshop in a series on Self-determination against the global ‘counter-terror’ regime. This was on the Kurdish liberation struggle. Continue reading “CAMPACC reports on the first of their innovative workshops series on self-determination”
Many of the participants of the conference, which was organised by MAF-DAD and Azadi Freiheit, have also been a part of ajoint ELDH appeal which has been collecting signatures from lawyers, barristers and legal professionals who support the abolishing the ban. This campaign is still open, and lawyers from across Europe are encouraged to sign on.
In addition, the conference strongly asserts that the Kurdish people have a right to self-determination, and have taken this right in the establishment of an autonomous region in Syria – Rojava. It also calls on the EU to support the reconstruction of Kobane following a 6-month siege on the city by the so-called ‘Islamic State’.
Next weekend an international conference will tackle anti-terrorism legislation, international law and the impact of this framing on the Kurdish struggle. Taking place in Bonn, Germany, the conference will bring together lawyers, barristers and academics around a series of discussion that will include such topics as the right to self-determination; concepts of ‘terrorism’; legal challenges to the PKK ban and the impact of the ban on the Kurdish people; as well as quests for a legal and political solution.
The conference has been organised by MAF-DAD and Azadi Freiheit, which are both on the forefront of leading appeals agains the prohibition of the PKK, in association with European Association of Democratic Lawyers (ELDH), Internationale Liga fur Menschrechte and VDJ.
You can download a full programme here. We will bring you papers and the final resolution of the conference once we receive hem.
1 May 2014
Deniz Akgul, a British citizen originally from North Kurdistan, recently had an extradition request dismissed after the Westminster Magistrates Court found that the government of Turkey had deliberately misled British courts and abused the extradition process.
In a remarkable ruling, the district judge Shenagh Bayne dismissed Turkey’s request to extradite Mr Akgul, who was accused of providing ‘material support’ to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the form of food, books and cameras under Article 220/7 of the Turkish Penal Code. In her final judgement, the judge not only concluded that the Turkish government abused the extradition process, but she also accepted evidence that Mr Akgul had been previously tortured by Turkish authorities and would face a real risk of further ill-treatment were he to be returned to Turkey.
His barrister, Ben Cooper, has defended some of the most complex extradition cases and won numerous successes on human rights grounds. He has defended ETA suspects and IRA suspects, as well Babar Ahmed and others accused of terrorism by the US. Peace in Kurdistan Campaign spoke with him to find out more about the case and why the ruling is so important.
Tony Benn, one of the UK’s foremost radical leftist politicians, president of Stop the War Coalition, long-time supporter of Kurdish rights, sadly passed on today. Here we recall his words on the Terrorism Act 2001, which criminalises the entire Kurdish community and many others as ‘terrorist’, when it was first introduced:
One of the last things I did before I left Parliament to devote more time to politics was to vote against the Terrorism Bill. It was introduced, after 24 hours, without any real discussion … I might add this was just after the Americans had bombed Sudan allegedly in an anti-terrorist act described as a humanitarian mission by the United States … What you have to recognise is that imperialism always dresses itself up in the language of humanitarianism, always. Any one who remembers as I do what Britain was like when the Empire was there, it was our mission to the world, the sun never set on the British Empire, it was the white man civilising the world.
1 October 2013
Mr Adil Zozani, Member of Parliament for the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), was recently in the UK to attend the Labour Party Conference and address a public meeting with members of London’s Kurdish community. Peace in Kurdistan Campaign spoke with him about the conference, the BDP’s role in current peace negotiations for the resolution of the Kurdish Question, and about Turkey’s questionable role in developments in Rojava, northern Syria.
How has your message been received so far in the UK, and in particular, at the Labour Party Conference, where you spoke at a meeting that was attended by the Turkish Ambassador to the UK?
The Labour Party Conference was very interesting, and it was clear they are very excited about the possibility being in leadership again. I met many people who were in solidarity with the Kurdish movement and found that the Kurdish question was well known amongst them.