Drop the charges against Kurdish activists

Human rights campaigner Margaret Owen speaking to the media at the annual Kurdish Cultural Festival in Landgraaf, Netherlands, September 2022

Margaret Owen makes a plea to stop the UK’S criminalisation of the Kurds at Turkey’s bidding

As this article was about to go online, we heard that the trial due for Wednesday 13th September is yet again adjourned, this time until January 17th and 18th next year.  But the pressure on this government must be maintained. This late last-minute adjournment is cruel and traumatic for the two defendants, but reveals how scared the Tories are of what will be disclosed about its complicity in the genocide of the Kurds.

The two charged took part in a peaceful demonstration in Whitehall last year, protesting against Turkey’s racist and misogynist brutal oppression of the Kurds. They face prosecution under our 2000 Terrorism Act. 

They were arrested and charged with supporting a terrorist organization, by implication the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party), which is on the UK’s terror list, simply because they were carrying a Kurdish flag.  But they were not carrying a PKK flag.  The fact is the PKK does not even have a flag.

This prosecution shows how the Tory government has now politicised UK laws in favour of one of the most repressive regimes in the world. Turkey, under the dictatorship of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is waging a brutal genocide against the Kurds. It is guilty of appalling war crimes, assassinations, torture, ethnic cleansing and is targeting civilians, and especially women freedom activists and human rights defenders in Kurdish towns and villages in Turkey, Syria and the Kurdish Regional Government

These acts have been condemned by the UN, but the UK is one of the major suppliers of arms and drone parts to the Turkish regime, and has remained shamefully silent even when there is irrefutable evidence on its use of chemical weapons in Kurdish, North East Syria, (Rojava) and in the KRG. 

But now the UK government is systematically targeting the Kurdish community in this country, on behalf of Turkey, presumably as a condition of its billion-dollar arms sales and other trade agreements.   Clearly human rights are no longer a priority in our relationships with foreign powers, as, since Brexit, the UK is so desperate to boost our ailing economy.

In this context, at Turkey’s bidding, Kurdish people’s homes here in London are raided by our armed police, on the flimsiest of grounds, in the middle of the night, traumatizing innocent women and children. This prosecution exposes how deeply servile SO15 (anti-terrorist police branch within the London’s Metropolitan Police Service) is to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, the MIT. It looks like we are doing Erdogan’s dirty work here on our London streets.

The two defendants, Mark Campbell and a brave Kurdish woman are appealing for wide solidarity outside the court next Wednesday at 9 a.m. The Kurds are not terrorists but victims of one hundred years of Turkish state terrorism. They deserve our support and protection. Thank heavens we still have an independent judiciary unlike in Turkey, which is now a police state, with their prisons overcrowded with Kurdish political prisoners who have little hope of accessing justice, since there is none anymore.  Surely the Labour Party, headed by a distinguished human rights lawyer will stop this abuse of our laws.

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