ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A court in Munich has slapped a German activist and journalist with a 3,600 euro fine for carrying a flag of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), an armed Kurdish group in Syria, during a protest.
Anselm Schindler, a freelance journalist and activist, writes for media outlets such as Taz, Junge Welt and Neues Deutschland.
In a series of tweets on Thursday, he mocked the decision.
“Because I a showed a YPJ flag at a protest. Once again I will say: the YPG [People’s Protection Units) are the ones who drove IS out of northern Syria. But in Bavaria you can no longer show their flags, otherwise Uncle [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan will get angry,” he wrote.
“Because of a YPJ flag on a demonstration against the NATO war conference in Munich. That’s 3,600 euros. I don’t have this, and they will not get this,” he added.
The activist says he will appeal the decision in court.
In March 2017, the German Interior Ministry issued a notice to all the nation’s states with the title “Update on the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] ban” and prohibited various Kurdish symbols including YPG, YPJ, and PYD (Democratic Union Party) flags.
The PKK is a Kurdish rebel force currently engaged in a decades-long war with the Turkish government for broader Kurdish rights. The PKK is banned in Germany and considered a terrorist organization by the US and EU.
In multiple German states, activists complain that German citizens are harassed or prosecuted for posting the YPG flag on social media or, as in Schindler’s case, waving it during protests. However, several local courts, such as one in Berlin, have since ruled against the ban on YPG and YPJ flags, resulting in de-facto of easing of the ban.
Still, in conservative states such as Bavaria, the ban continues. Several activists had to appear in court, and their homes were searched for possessing YPG flags.
On Sept. 20, an activist known as Arash was detained in Munich for one day for having a picture of himself carrying a YPJ flag on Facebook.
YPG spokesperson Nouri Mahmoud told Kurdistan 24 in March that Germany’s ban on YPG flags was unethical since it was the YPG that protected Berlin and other Western capitals against attacks by the Islamic State (IS).
“We have defeated global terrorism. There are still thousands of terrorists captured by our forces. We are protecting Germany, Europe, the World. At the time we fought these terrorists, we were protecting Europe, especially Germany because if we didn’t [fight], IS would hit many other parts of Europe,” he said.
“It’s unethical to stand against the people who protect you, while you are maintaining the interests of the terrorism of sultan Erdogan,” Mahmoud continued. “This is a fact that has to be considered by the German people and government.”
The Syrian Kurds have also criticized Germany for providing weapons to Turkey that it used in the attack on Afrin in January. Turkey and allied Syrian armed groups seized the city and surrounding areas in March.
Ibrahim Murad, a spokesperson for Representation of Rojava-North Syria in Germany, told Kurdistan 24, “This decision is shameful and false and of course [meant to please] Turkey because both YPG and YPJ forces are the ones who defeated IS in Rojava and northern Syria (Raqqa, Tabqa, Deir al-Zor, Kobani, Hasaka, and in other cities).”
Editing by John J. Catherine