ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Munich Administrative Court has acquitted an activist who was on trial for carrying a flag of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) during a protest against Turkey’s attack on Afrin last year.
According to Kurdish media, the prosecutor had demanded a large fine for the Munich activist whose identity was not made public after they were acquitted on Tuesday.
In March 2017, Germany’s Interior Ministry issued a notice to all states titled “Update on the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] ban.” The ban prohibited various Kurdish symbols including People’s Protection Units (YPG), Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), and PYD flags.
The PKK is a Kurdish rebel force currently engaged in a decades-long war with the Turkish government for broader Kurdish rights. Turkey, the European Union, and the United States label the PKK a “terrorist” organization.
However, several local courts have since ruled against the ban on the YPG and YPJ flags, resulting in a de-facto easing of the prohibition.
For instance, in December, a court in the German state of North Rhine Westphalia acquitted an activist for using the YPG flag.
Filmmaker Uli Bez was also recently cleared after she was investigated for posting a YPJ flag on her Facebook account in Munich, Kurdish media reported.
The court had stated in Bez’s ruling that posting a YPJ flag was not sufficient proof of a connection to the banned PKK organization.
Kerem Schamberger, a well-known pro-left-wing activist from Germany, told Kurdistan 24 on Thursday that the cases related to the PYD, YPG, and YPJ symbols in Munich are inconsistent.
“There is no straight line; some cases are dropped, and some cases, the prosecution is saying he or she is innocent, and they are freed,” he stated.
Schamberger has also faced judicial pressure in Germany for his activism and support of Syrian Kurds.
However, he noted that other activists had been fined thousands of Euros in Munich, such as Anselm Schindler, who is a vocal supporter of Syrian Kurds in Germany.
“They want to set some examples, fining the most active ones, and sending the signal: if you are active, if you show the flag, this will happen to you.”
According to Kurdish Affairs analyst Mutlu Civiroglu, Germany has a very confusing policy toward the Syrian Kurds who are often described as “the most effective partner on the ground,” and have battled the so-called Islamic State as part of the US-led coalition just like Germany has.
“Therefore, banning the YPG flag is very contradictory indeed,” he added, stating that the court’s recent decision was “rectifying a mistake.”
Civiroglu noted that Germany hosts a sizeable Kurdish community, including Kurds from Afrin, which Turkey occupied in March 2018, who “want to raise their voice.”
“There is strong perception among the Kurds that German weapons have been used against Afrin,” he said, “and they want Germany to help them when their city is under attack.”
YPG spokesperson Nouri Mahmoud told Kurdistan 24 last year that Germany’s ban on YPG flags is unethical.
“We have defeated global terrorism. There are still thousands of terrorists captured by our forces. We are protecting Germany, Europe, and the World.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany