Lawsuit against London police for the criminalisation of the Kurdish community

The Kurdish Community Centre is taking legal action against an unlawful operation by the London police. The raid on their community centre took place shortly after a visit by the British Defence Secretary to his counterpart in Ankara.

A raid on the Kurdish Community Centre in Haringey around a week ago is likely to have repercussions for the London police. A law firm in the English capital will file a lawsuit with the competent administrative court on behalf of the Kurdish Community Center. With the action, the organisation wants to establish the illegality of the operation.

Violent clashes between police and guests

The reason for the raid on 26 November was a planned cultural event to mark the anniversary of the founding of the PKK 45 years ago. As the evening celebrations were due to begin, over a hundred officers from the Metropolitan Police (Met) counter-terrorism unit cordoned off the community centre. Many members of the Kurdish community protested against the actions of the police force and violent confrontations broke out, in which three guests were slightly injured. When the incident became known, many more people arrived and showed their solidarity with the Kurdish community centre. It was only after lengthy confrontations that the police left and the event could begin.

There was no judicial search warrant

According to the Kurdish Community Centre, the raid on the private property was not covered by an authorisation basis. There was neither a judicial search warrant, nor any so-called imminent danger. Nevertheless, the police stormed the cultural celebration, which was attended by families with children, and violently and aggressively disrupted it without a legitimate reason. It is therefore clear that the raid was apparently "clearly politically motivated" and the final link in a chain of attempts to criminalise Kurds.

Raid just after the defence minister's visit to Ankara

It is particularly noteworthy that the police operation against the Kurdish Community Centre took place just two days after a visit by UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps to his Turkish counterpart Yaşar Güler in Ankara. According to media reports, an improvement in cooperation in the areas of defence and security in the Middle East was agreed at the meeting, and arms deals were probably also discussed. "As the Kurdish Community Centre, it is not without reason that we accuse British politicians of abusing anti-terrorism legislation and the judiciary in order to advance their own political goals," it said. 

Demonstration against the criminalisation of the Kurdish community

The raid on the Kurdish Community Centre and the criminalisation of the Kurdish community in England was also the central theme of a demonstration in London on Sunday evening. Several hundred people took part in the demonstration organised by the Alliance of Democratic Forces - which includes Kurdish, Alevi, socialist and internationalist groups and movements.

Activist Türkan Budak from the board of the Kurdish community centre stated that the British anti-terror laws represented a direct threat to the right of assembly and association as well as the right to freedom of expression. "We will no longer accept that this country criminalises Kurdish self-organisation and Kurdish life, keeps silent or even supports the war against Kurds, and misuses the laws to silence our resistance against the Turkish regime. We will not allow ourselves to be sacrificed in favour of the UK's relations with Turkey and to satisfy Erdoğan. We are also aware that this criminalisation policy is also linked to the sympathy of the British people for the Kurdish cause and the Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan."

Solidarity with the just and legitimate cause of the Kurdish people

Other speakers also criticised the raid on the community centre in Haringey and the British government's treatment of the Kurdish community, expressing solidarity "for the just and legitimate cause of the Kurdish people".

"Anyone looking for terrorists in the Kurdish Community Centre is clearly on the wrong track. It is not the Kurds, who are fighting against reactionary fascist and barbaric structures in the Middle East and paying a high price for human dignity and the whole world, who are terrorists. The real terrorists are in Ankara," said Ercan Akbal from the Alliance of Democratic Forces. The demonstrators expressed their support for the Kurdish movement with slogans such as "No to the criminalisation of the Kurdish people", "Turkey is a terrorist state", "No justice, no peace" and "Freedom for Öcalan, peace in Kurdistan".