Germany sentences Kurdish activist to 2 years, 7 months in prison

Kurdish activist Mustafa Çelik who was arrested in Bremen in January, has been sentenced in Hamburg to two years and seven months imprisonment for alleged membership in the PKK.

The verdict came without surprises today before the Higher Regional Court of Hamburg in the trial against Mustafa (Amed) Çelik for membership in a terrorist organization abroad. The Kurdish activist was sentenced to two years and seven months imprisonment. Here, too, the court followed the criminalization of the PKK by the German state, which was motivated by political interests, and found the accused activist guilty on all counts.

Although the presiding judge attested to Çelik's considerable restrictions on human rights and experiences of violence in Turkey and also took his health problems into consideration, his sentence was only one month less than the prosecution's request. The judge obviously based her decision on the sentence imposed on Çelik before the Higher Regional Court of Celle, where the 43-year-old activist had been sentenced to two and a half years in prison in 2016. Since Çelik is considered a "repeat offender" because of his continued political commitment even after this sentence, falling below this previous sentence would have been a career risk for the judge.

Remarkably, the judge did not seem willing or able to hide or obscure the obvious contradictions of this politically influenced judiciary. Thus, she repeatedly castigated the means of resistance of the PKK against the oppression by the Turkish state, while she on the other hand described a statement by Abdullah Öcalan about his goal of peaceful conflict resolution as "quite correct". She praised the PKK's numerous attempts to resolve the conflict peacefully, but at the same time dismissed them as "failed", without mentioning that this failure consisted in the resumption of violence by the Erdogan regime and that this ally of the German state is thus the aggressor.

In mentioning the struggle against the ISIS, the contradiction reached absurd traits when the PKK's military resistance was explicitly praised as "service for all" the very means against Turkey's Islamist proxies that were branded as terrorism against Turkey itself.

The judge certified that the accused had "comprehensible reasons for fighting for human dignity and justice" and mentioned the physical violence and human rights violations that he had experienced in his youth at the hands of the Turkish state. But what forms such a fight against an unjust regime must take in order not to be persecuted by German authorities and punished by the courts remained open.

In an assessment of the verdict, attorney Heinz Schmitt also pointed out the political entanglements in which the judiciary is caught by the 2011 prosecution authorization of the Ministry of Justice. Schmitt stated that this criminalized the resistance to state terrorism out of opportunism in foreign policy and, moreover, could not be verified by the courts. He expressed the hope that this would change in a few years and that German legal practice would no longer be guided by the calculations of foreign policy power politics, but rather by standards of the rule of law.