Time to De-list the PKK: A conference in London

Panel in London discussed how to strengthen the legal and political means of the international campaign to de-list the PKK.

An event hosted by Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC), Peace in Kurdistan, London Kurdish Solidarity (LKS), Democratic Kurdish Peoples Assembly UK, was organised after the ruling by Belgium's Court of Appeal last March, stating that the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is not a terrorist organisation.

The panel in London asked 'how can we use this decision to strengthen the legal and political means of the international campaign to de-list the PKK?'

The event was chaired by Anne Gray of CAMPACC. The main guest speaker was Jan Fermon the Belgium lawyer in the case who led the successful defence of the Kurdish activists in Belgium. He was joined by Alastair Lyon of BirnbergPeirce Solicitors and Nik Matheou, London Kurdish Solidarity (LKS).

The speech by Jan Fermon can be watched here

While the full meeting can be watched here.

Main facts regarding the case

On 8 March 2019, the Indictment Chambers of the Court of Appeal of Brussels Belgium took a decision dismissing the case and ending all further prosecution against 40 persons and 2 companies for being agents of PKK, the Kurdistan Workers Party.

The decision comes to the same conclusion as the earlier decision of the same court pronounced on 14 September 2017, subsequently quashed on some deficiencies in the statement of reasons by the Court of Cassation on 13 February 2018, namely that the conflict between PKK and the Turkish state is an non-international armed conflict as defined by international law and ruled by the laws of war (international humanitarian law), not by anti-terrorism laws.

The 42 defendants faced prosecution for leadership of a terrorist group or assistance of any kind to such a group. None of the defendants were suspected of any direct or indirect involvement in acts of violence. The alleged facts underlying the accusations were collecting funds for PKK, spreading propaganda and/or participating in the recruitment for the organisation.

The defendants were all Kurdish activists in Belgium, some holding positions in the Kurdish National Congress (KNK), some being members of local Kurdish associations and others being representatives of Syrian and Iranian Kurdish political parties etc. The two companies which were prosecuted are production companies for Kurdish television and radio. The Prosecution argued that all these organisations, parties etc. were in reality integral parts of PKK.