PKK hearing resumes at European Court of Justice

The latest hearing of the lawsuit filed by the PKK against the 2020 and 2021 terror lists was held at the European Court of Justice.

The latest hearing of the case against the PKK's inclusion on the "terrorist organizations list" by the Council of Europe was held at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

There are three cases in total that deal with the PKK at the Court of Justice. The Court rescinded the lists between 2014 and 2017, and the Council of Europe objected to the ruling. After the PKK filed a lawsuit against the lists between 2018 and 2020, the court joined both cases. The first hearing was held on March 31.


The hearing of the case against the PKK's re-inclusion on the list for the same reasons was held this Wednesday. The case concerns the lists in 2021 and 2022. The lists are updated every six months.

Dutch lawyer Tamara Buruma, who represents the PKK, recalled the numerous bombardments by the Turkish state in Kurdistan and remarked that the PKK does not target civilians and retaliates against Turkish soldiers proportionately. Buruma reacted to the Council of Europe, which deemed the PKK’s activities as "terrorist acts".

The Dutch lawyer noted that most of the arguments presented by the Council of Europe dated back to more than five years and are not valid for the new lists. The lawyer also rejected the accusation that the PKK "committed terrorist acts" within the European Union. Buruma emphasized that the PKK used legal means.


Buruma pointed out that the PKK's inclusion on the list is also used as a means to put pressure on Kurdish political refugees. “Listing the PKK also provides a kind of impunity for the Turkish state,” she added.

Buruma criticized that the Council of Europe did not mention the consequences of listing the PKK.


The Council of Europe cited some of the actions carried out by the PKK in the past years. Almost all of the evidence consists of actions against military targets. The Council of Europe also cited a PKK drone attack against a military target as evidence.

After the pleas of the PKK and the Council, the court committee asked questions to the plaintiffs. S. Gervasoni, the French head of the tribunal, asked why the Council of Europe targeted other organizational structures such as KADEK and KONGRA-GEL, citing the PKK as its justification.

While the Council of Europe argued that the PKK and KONGRA-GEL are the same organizations, lawyer Buruma said that KADEK no longer existed, and that KONGRA-GEL could not be considered as the PKK. She stated that the whole Kurdish movement could not be considered as constituting the PKK since it is an organization from the bottom up.


In their plea, the lawyers also stated that the PKK's inclusion on the list was based on Britain's stance in 2001 and, since the UK is no longer an EU member, the situation should now be dealt with in more depth. In other words, it was pointed out that the ruling in 2021 was not taken by a competent authority, because the UK ceased to be a member of the EU.

The judge asked the representative of the Council of Europe about a PKK drone attack against a Turkish military base in South Kurdistan. The judge asked for clarification on why the drone attack was sufficient for the PKK to remain on the list. The European Council remarked that it did not matter where this information had come from, and the council made their own decisions. It added that it would be more careful in the future.


Buruma stated that it is perhaps more difficult to remove an organization from the list than to add it. The PKK lawyer said that although a Belgian court has recently ruled that the PKK is not a terrorist organization, the Council of Europe continues to rely on previous rulings.

When the Council of Europe did not utter anything as final words, the court committee concluded the hearing. It is not known when the ruling will be announced.


There are many cases before the European Court of Justice concerning the PKK. Towards the end of 2018, the Court of Justice found the reasons put forward for keeping the PKK on the "terrorist organizations list" insufficient and rescinded the lists between 2014 and 2017.

The court thus found the arguments presented for listing the PKK as "insufficient " and ruled that it could not be included in the list on these grounds.

However, the EU appealed to a higher court to object to the ruling. Immediately after, the UK applied again in 2018 to keep the PKK on the list, and the PKK was automatically relisted on January 9, 2018, based on the same arguments. The Kurdish claimants also filed a lawsuit against the new list on March 7 the same year.

The objection of the Council of Europe to the previous ruling and the case against the new lists were combined and the first hearing was held on March 31, 2022.

During the hearing on March 31, the Court of Justice criticized the Council of Europe and reacted to the "copy-paste" defence method based on the same arguments despite the cancellation of the previous lists. One of the judges called on the Council of Europe to respect the rulings, saying that “it is surprising that the Council made a copy-paste objection to a ruling that was annulled by the Court."


After the German government put the PKK on its banned organizations list on November 26, 1993, a new security concept was introduced across the world following the attack on the Twin Towers in the USA in 2001. The European Union created a list in December of the same year, as part of the "war on terrorism" imposed by the USA. Thus, the PKK was included in the list in 2002.