Saturday, September 09, 2006

Against the criminalisation and political persecution of Kurds in Germany

We live in a country, which has signed up to agreements on refuge for individuals and basic social rights in accordance with international laws.

There are hundreds of thousands of Kurds living in Europe, mostly in Germany. We are a community, which has migrated here because of war, expulsion, repression, inequality and undemocratic actions. We are striving, on the basis of legitimate rights, to live as an integral part of German society. In our own country, Kurdistan, we are arrested, persecuted and killed because of our struggle for freedom and democracy. We have come together in order to fight for our rights. In Germany alone, over 60 centres are active in the Federation of Kurdish Associations (YEK-KOM).

Arrests and bans
But also, here in Germany, we are not recognized as who we are. Due to policies of the government, for years, we have been robbed of our freedom, our newspapers banned, and our people threatened, intimidated, or arrested. Fundamental, democratic constitutional rights, such as freedom of opinion, and assembly, to hold seminars, and make public statements on political events were banned. Intimidation, threats and pestering of members and leaders of Kurdish associations on the basis of their political activities and cultural practices, and the persecution of legitimate interests were the order of the day. The most recent example being the arrests at the beginning of August of the Kurdish political figures Muzaffer Ayata, and Riza Erdogan
in Germany, as well as Nedim Seven in Holland.

Turkey, Germany and the USA’s collective plan
Behind these arrests lies Turkey’s pressure, which still rejects a political and peaceful solution to the Kurdish question, and above all, most recently has been conspicuous in its efforts to reject one, and by it to bring the USA and Iraq to act against the PKK in South Kurdistan.

There is no longer any doubt that the policy of terrorising, provoking and isolating the Kurds is a result of the collective plan of Turkey, the USA, and the European countries – for geo-strategic and economic reasons. Above all, Germany, as the main mover of this plan makes our lives unbearable.

Criminalising and stigmatising
People who have lived and worked in parts of this country for many years are criminalized by immigration officers and the courts, and stigmatised as “dangers” to Germany’s internal security, who would have to leave Germany. Associations which are allied to the YEK-KOM were immediately described as “PKK supporters”. This, despite all centres having full memoranda and articles of association, and were fully legally entered into the register of companies. We see this as a worrying development.

Co-operation and dialogue
As Kurds, our work concerns itself with peaceful and equal co-operation with all social groups. We have been at pains to create a dialogue with the relevant politicians in Germany. All the same, we are banging our heads against a wall of silence and ignorance. We, as Kurds, are obviously isolated and ostracised. It’s our experience that Kurds in Germany - who in their own homeland are prosecuted, arrested and tortured; whose language, culture and very existence is banned - which they believed to be a safer haven, find the same repression as exists in Turkey. That is painful.

Criminalisation is no solution
We wish to make one thing clear: we will imperturbably stick to our policy of dialogue. We call upon the German politicians responsible, neither to deny our efforts, nor to refuse a debate; an exchange of views. We also call upon the Federal Government and the EU to develop a policy on Kurdistan, which is not based on economic interests, and finally to make a contribution to a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question.

Closing the association and the hunger strike
As a protest against the continuing practice of criminalisation, we have –
along with the other 60+ centres in the umbrella group YEK-KOM – shut the Navenda Kurd association as of 21 August 2006. With Stuttgart and Cologne, we will also be staging a hunger strike.

Dialogue not bans! 24 August 2006 Translation from German original

No comments: