ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Germany’s Interior Ministry on Tuesday declared a ban on two Kurdish “companies” for their alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Kurdish organizations in the country, meanwhile, have condemned the ban as an assault on freedom of speech.
The German government banned the Kurdish publishing house “Mezopotamien Publishing” and Kurdish multimedia group “MIR Muzik.”
German authorities conducted raids on their premises in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony and confiscated Kurdish books and music.
The largest Kurdish umbrella organization in Germany, NAV-DEM, strongly condemned the ban.
“The decision to ban book publishing and seize thousands of books, let us wake up memories of the darkest chapters in German history. Mr. [Horst] Seehofer makes it clear again with this ban that he is afraid of the written word,” Ayten Kaplan, co-chair of NAV-DEM, said in a public statement.
The Interior Ministry argued that the two groups were posing as publishing companies, but the earnings from the two organizations went exclusively to the PKK and strengthened its capabilities in Germany, Deutsche Welle (DW) reported.
“As the PKK is still active despite being banned in Germany, it is necessary to rein in the PKK and uphold our legal system,” DW quoted Seehofer as saying.
Tahir Köcer, NAV-DEM’s co-chairman, said the ban reminded him of Turkey’s anti-Kurdish policy. Köcer added that Turkey has been trying to wipe out Kurdish identity and culture for decades.
“Now, with this ban, the federal government has decided to continue this inhumane policy on German soil. We cannot and will not tolerate that!”
Meanwhile, the Co-chair of the DIE LINKE group in the Hamburg Parliament, Cansu Özdemir, tweeted that the confiscation of Kurdish books and CDs with Kurdish music reminded her of “the bans in Turkey in the 1980s.”
“To confiscate books with the argument of a PKK ban is an attack on fundamental rights.”
Mehmet Tanriverdi, co-leader of the Kurdish Community in Germany, told Kurdistan 24 that the Interior Minister’s policies are hypocritical and lack credibility.
“On the one hand, he cracks down on groups and firms that Ankara doesn’t like,” he said. “On the other, he and his colleagues almost systematically ignore the threat posed to Germany by the Grey Wolves and by DITIB [Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs].”
In 2015, Germany confirmed that the Grey Wolves’ ideology contradicted Germany’s liberal-democratic constitutional order.
“And still, there are no signs of a ban on this dangerous group,” Tanriverdi stated. “In addition to that, Germany’s domestic intelligence is even observing DITIB activities in the country.”
Tanriverdi claimed “there is proof that the organization is spying for Ankara,” but Germany has yet to ban it.
“German authorities continue to cooperate with DITIB. So, when the interior minister wants to act tough, he should end his double standards and also focus on these organizations.”
Thomas Schmidinger, a political scientist at the University of Vienna, described the ban as another “step in the long history of German collaboration with Turkey against Kurdish institutions” with alleged links to the PKK.
“To ban a publisher of books, however, has a specially bad smell in Germany, where publishers were banned during the Nazi period the last time,” he told Kurdistan 24.
“Today, Salafi publishing houses with books close to jihadis and even extreme right-wing publishers who publish racist and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are perfectly legal in Germany. Only this Kurdish publisher is not allowed.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany