Beritan and Campbell: Kurds cannot be criminalized

British journalist Mark Campbell and Kurdish woman activist Beritan Silemani appeared in a London court for carrying PKK flags. Campbell and Beritan stressed that the Kurdish people and their values cannot be criminalized.

British journalist Mark Campbell and Kurdish woman activist Beritan Silêmani are accused of conducting "terrorist propaganda" since they carried PKK flags in public. The first hearing was held in London's Westminster Magistrates Court on Thursday.

In support of Campbell and Silêmani, human rights defender Margaret Oven, journalist Rahila Gupta, academician Lida Kayhko, writer Charlotte Grace, activist Katie Higgins, KCDK-Bashur Representative Hevan Şivan, Kurdish People's Assembly members Ercan Akbal and Türkan Budak, writer Ali Boyraz and numerous people gathered in front of the courthouse.

Activists displayed a KCK flag and chanted the slogan "Jin, Jiyan, Azadi" (Woman, Life, Freedom), the iconic motto of the Kurdish women’s movement.

The court claimed that Silêmani and Campbell carried the symbols of a banned organization which constituted a crime.

“We carried these symbols and it is not a crime,” Campbell and Silêmani replied to the court. The court postponed the hearing until February 22, 2023.

“The UK should put an end to the genocidal policies pursued by the Turkish state against the Kurdish people. We will say here in court that the Kurdish people cannot be criminalized, and we will fight together to put an end to the genocide policy,” Mark Campbell told ANF before the hearing.

Kurdish activist Silêmani said that they would defend this honourable flag in the spirit of resistance put up in Zap. “Betrayers should know that the guerrilla spirit is everywhere,” she said.

Ercan Akbal, who delivered a speech on behalf of the Kurdish People's Assembly, emphasized that Mark Campbell is an important friend and comrade of the Kurdish people.

“Mark is not just a friend; he is also someone who has significantly contributed to our struggle for freedom. He has devoted his life to the Kurds and the people of Kurdistan. Beritan is also our comrade who has a noble stance against betrayal. Together with comrades, we will continue the fight against criminalization.”

KCDK-South Kurdistan Representative Heval Şivan said that the PKK represented the Kurdish people themselves. “Comrades Mark and Beritan will defend the symbols of freedom of an honourable struggle. These are the symbols of a people. Our comrade Mark also believes that these symbols belong to a people and cannot not be criminalized. We will resist and fight together with Beritan and Mark.”

Journalist Campbell, who is on trial for carrying the PKK flag in the UK, emphasized that the PKK flag is seen by millions of Kurds as a symbol of a national stance and self-defence against assimilation and discrimination.

“British law should not be politicized in favour of Turkey, one of the most oppressive regimes in the world. We will proudly state in the UK Courts that carrying this flag is not a 'criminal' act but an honour,” Campbell said.

Margaret Oven, a human rights defender and lawyer, also came to the courthouse to support Campbell and Silêmani.

Displaying a picture of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan inside the courthouse, Oven emphasized that Britain should take a stance against the genocidal policies that target the Kurdish people, including Erdogan, who is a war criminal.

Oven added that it is rather the UK government which is criminal since it sells weapons to the Turkish state. “If defending a people and their values ​​is a crime, we will continue to commit this crime.”