Protest in Stockholm: “We must not allow Erdoğan's laws to be introduced in Sweden”

The Swedish parliament has agreed to tighten the country's anti-terror law. Oppositionists and intellectuals see this as genuflecting to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and pandering to his anti-Kurdish agenda.

The Swedish parliament yesterday agreed to tighten the country's anti-terror law. Thus, in future, activities in connection with groups classified as "extremist" will be explicitly prohibited. The tightening of the terror law was a key demand by Turkey in order to agree to Sweden joining NATO. The Turkish government accuses Sweden of not taking consistent action against Kurdish opposition members and refugees, whom it considers "terrorists".

The new law was passed in the 349-member Swedish parliament with 268 votes in favour. Meanwhile, a group of intellectuals and political figures gathered at Stockholm's Mynttorget to protest the introduction of the law.

Former Member of Parliament and Kurdish activist Amineh Kakabaveh expressed her outrage, saying: "I see the new law as a mere favour to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.” The politician, who was born in 1972 in the Seqiz city of Eastern Kurdistan, criticised the Swedish parliament for acting in the interests of the government in Ankara.

Sweden has had relatively liberal anti-terror laws to protect freedom of assembly. Charges for mere membership of a group suspected of "terrorist links" have not been allowed until now. That is now changing with the law, which comes into force on 1 June. "It is over with the tradition that freedom of expression and freedom of opinion are a high good in Sweden. This is what we were proud of as those who fled political persecution," said the Swedish-Kurdish writer and journalist Kurdo Baksi, noting that Sweden's government had made a sad decision - to act as a Turkish province.

Håkan Svenneling, a member of parliament from the Swedish Left Party, remarked that the new law endangers democracy and freedom of expression and that it is sad to see that his country is now taking serious steps backwards in this respect. "Sweden is acting as Erdoğan's willing enforcer," Svenneling said, pointing out that the Kurdish exile would now also have to fear mass deportations. “After all, we know from Turkey that it is internationally on a Kurd hunt and regularly tries to have fled dissidents searched for by Interpol as alleged criminals. The Turkish government does not infrequently brand the opposition members it is persecuting as terrorists. We must not allow Erdoğan's laws to be introduced in Sweden," Svenneling stressed.

Svenneling said he was hopeful about the people in Turkey, who are in an ever-tighter stranglehold of the authoritarian regime, but who nevertheless are not thinking of giving up. "There are only a few days left until the decisive parliamentary and presidential elections. We want this day to be celebrated as a rebellion against the dictatorship.”

The MP said special recognition should be given to the Green Left Party, under whose banner left-wing and democratic opposition parties such as the HDP and EMEP are contesting the election on 14 May. "It is an admirable resistance that the Green Left Party is putting up for a turning point in Turkey despite mass arrests of its members."