Protest in Bern: Freedom for Yaser Örnek!

A demonstration was held in Bern for the release of Kurdish activist Yaser Örnek. The political refugee with residence in Switzerland has been in a Bavarian prison for days at the behest of the Turkish government.

In the Swiss city of Bern, a demonstration was staged on Monday for the release of Yaser Örnek. Several dozen activists from Kurdish and internationalist structures gathered in front of the German embassy in the Brunnadern district. They unfurled banners saying "Freedom for Yaser Örnek - Stop extradition to Turkey!" and carried signs with the 27-year-old's likeness.

Yaser Örnek is a Kurdish activist and student who has been granted political asylum in Switzerland since 2018. On 2 July, he was arrested in Bavaria at the instigation of the Turkish government. At the time, Örnek was passing through with a friend when his car was stopped by plainclothes police on the A8 near Bernau am Chiemsee. The arrest of the Kurd from Mardin and the temporary detention of his companion was triggered by an entry in the wanted list at the European Police Office (Europol). Örnek has been legally convicted in Turkey for "membership in a terrorist organisation" due to legal political activities for the HDP, and three further proceedings against him are still pending. If extradited to the Turkish regime, he faces many years behind bars.

"We have to prevent this," said Münir Ay, co-spokesperson of the Kurdish Cultural Centre in Bern, at the protest in front of the embassy. He said that Turkey had once again abused mechanisms such as an entry in Europol in order to be able to eliminate "disagreeable opponents" of the leadership in Ankara through illegal searches. "This must not be accepted. We also explicitly criticise the countries of Europe that bow to dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his fascist policies." Ay called on the government of Switzerland to intervene immediately on Yaser Örnek's behalf. "We will use every legal avenue to bring our friend home. His detention in Germany is illegal."

An interview on the situation of Yaser Örnek, previously requested by the German consulate, was refused by the embassy staff. The reason given was the alleged absence of authorised persons. Meanwhile, the 27-year-old political refugee is to be transferred to a prison in Munich on Tuesday.