Civil disobedience action in London: Lift the PKK ban

The Kurdish activists detained outside the German embassy in London said they were displaying PKK flags as an act of civil disobedience and that the ban must be lifted in favour of a political solution to the Kurdish question.

On Saturday, at the same time as the "Lift the PKK ban, strengthen democracy" demonstration in Berlin, protests against the criminalisation of the Kurdish movement also took place in front of German representations in other European countries. In front of the German embassy near Hyde Park in London, activists protested against the ban on the PKK's activities in Germany and the EU's categorisation of the PKK as a terrorist organisation. The demonstrators waved PKK flags and called for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) to be removed from the EU's terror list to enable a political solution to the Kurdish question.

The London police temporarily detained around ten people because of the PKK flags. The activists were released after being identified. Those affected are now facing criminal proceedings, including activist Beritan Slemani, who is known to many for throwing a Mekap brand shoe used by the guerrillas at the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Masrour Barzan of the KDP, in April 2022 and was charged with PKK flags under the Terrorism Act 2000 along with British journalist Mark Campbell.

Some of the Kurds who took part in the protest on Saturday told ANF that they had displayed the flag as an act of civil disobedience to express their demand for decriminalisation. The flag is very popular among Kurds because this symbol was used to fight against the denial of Kurdish identity in Turkey and Kurdistan, especially in the 1990s. Originally, the flag was the symbol of the National Liberation Front (ERNK), which was founded in 1985 and disbanded in 2000. In 2005 it was declared the flag of the PKK.

Mustafa Amed, who comes from northern Kurdistan and was temporarily detained on Saturday, said: "The PKK cannot be considered terrorist. It is fighting for the Kurdish people and their rights. No PKK member is fighting for personal interests. The will of a people cannot be banned. We stand behind the PKK and will continue to demand that it be removed from the banned list."

Kawah Mahabad, who comes from East Kurdistan, described the PKK as a people's movement: "No people is terrorist. The PKK fights against denial, occupation and fascism; it is the people. Thousands of members of the Kurdish people have died in the struggle. The German state declares an entire people as terrorists and bans its organisation. The PKK ban in Germany must be lifted and the PKK must be removed from the EU list of terrorist organisations."

Kameran Shwani from southern Kurdistan, who was also detained on Saturday, expressed similar sentiments: "The PKK is a humanist movement that is fighting for freedom in the four parts of Kurdistan and has millions of sympathisers. We are here today to say that. The German state and the EU must lift the ban on the PKK for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question. This ban serves Turkish and Iranian policy. These states are being encouraged to commit massacres against the Kurdish people and to wage a war aimed at genocide. If Germany and Europe want peace in the Middle East, they must lift the ban on the PKK and campaign for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan."