German police search homes of five Kurdish activists in Hanover

In Hanover, police searched the homes of five Kurdish activists. Numerous cell phones, laptops and documents were confiscated. The defendants are accused of violating the law on associations.

Starting at 7:00 a.m. today, the apartments of five activists and members of the Democratic Kurdish Community Center in Hanover and the Ronahî Women's Council in the Hanover region and the districts of Celle and Heidekreis were simultaneously searched by the police. The Kurdish Community Center and the Women's Council represent the interests of the Kurdish community in the region. Their members work voluntarily for the interests of the community by being available for bureaucratic and legal concerns, accompanying them on visits to authorities or doctors, translating, mediating disputes, working against patriarchal violence, offering language and music courses, and organizing celebrations and educational events. They are committed to international understanding by seeking and maintaining contact, exchange and cooperation with German and other migrant people and groups. They consistently advocate a democratic solution to the Kurdish question and a just peace in the Kurdistan conflict.

The search warrants against the five activists were issued by the Celle District Court a week ago at the request of the Celle Public Prosecutor's Office. The defendants are accused of violating the Law on Associations according to Section 20 (1) No. 4 of the Law on Associations, i.e. of supporting the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and thus of violating the 1993 ban on PKK activities.

"Like the Turkish police"

The police forced their way into their homes, at times using physical force. They then searched the apartments and also other rooms such as basements. In some apartments, they literally trashed the rooms, climbed into beds with wet street shoes and threw the items together on the floor in one room. They confiscated numerous cell phones, laptops, storage media, private money, personal notes and diaries.

The co-chair of the Hanover People's Council, Sevim Devrim, who is herself affected by the searches, said of the police action: "The German police are behaving in exactly the same way as the Turkish police. We do our political work here, for which we were expelled from our homeland, to experience exactly the same repression. Whether we organize celebrations or demos, build councils and communities, do educational work or solve conflicts in Kurdish society, the state only knows the answer of violence. In this respect, the German state is no different from the Turkish state."

"Gathering information and causing uncertainty"

The vague accusations against the individual persons concerned and the great interest in seizing means of communication and notes suggest that the public prosecutor's office and the police are more interested in gathering as much information as possible about political work and structures and sowing uncertainty instead of clarifying concrete accusations.

This approach of the police against Kurdish structures and their activists has been known in Hanover for years. In 2018, for example, the premises of the Kurdish Community Center were searched because the five board members were accused of violating the law on associations. In 2019, a preliminary investigation was conducted against seven members of the Community Center, as a result of which their apartments were searched. To date, no charges or even convictions have been brought in any of the proceedings.

The persons concerned have sought legal assistance and will request access to the files through their defense attorneys in the next few days.