German police raids house of two activists for using YPG flags

German police in the city of Munich on Tuesday raided the houses of two Kurdish activists for using flags of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in protests.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – German police in the city of Munich on Tuesday raided the houses of two Kurdish activists for using flags of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in protests.

The State Security branch of the Munich police targeted the houses of Munich Kurdish Society Center Co-chairs Azad Bingol and Hezwan Abdal early Tuesday morning. 

“They raided the houses of two close comrades and friends of mine, and they raided their houses because they were carrying flags of the YPG and the YPJ [Women Protection Units] [in protests],” academic Kerem Schamberger, a well-known pro-left-wing activist, told Kurdistan 24.

“Those two comrades would never deny if asked whether they flew such flags because they stand behind their politics and support their [the YPG] fight against ISIS and other fundamentalists,” he added.

In March 2017, the German Interior Ministry issued a notice to all 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 from being flown in public.

The PKK is currently engaged in a decades-long war with the Turkish government for broader Kurdish rights and is considered a terrorist group by the US, NATO, and the EU.

However, several local courts since then, including in Berlin, have ruled against the ban on YPG and YPJ flags, resulting in de-facto of easing of the ban.

Nevertheless, there are still conservative states, such as Bavaria, where the ban is still enforced. Several activists had to appear in court as their homes were searched for YPG flags.

“The police raided their homes and collected all their cell phones, their laptops, their USB sticks, as well as all political material, magazines, pictures, posters, even posters of Yilmaz Guney, a famous Kurdish filmmaker who died in 1994 after living in exile from Turkey,” Schamberger explained. 

They also took a birthday card written by Azad's little sister. 

“She had written ‘best brother in the world,’ and then, around those words, placed some little stickers of YPJ and YPG flags. Police photographed it and took it to the police station,” he said.

“This is another sign of repression against the Kurdish freedom movement, and oppression against all people who show solidarity for the fight for democracy and progress in the Middle East,” Schamberger argued.

Both activists were known for being involved in organizing protests in solidarity with Afrin, which was overtaken by Turkey and its rebel allies in Syria earlier this year.

“It seems the police and the judiciary in Bavaria is kind of close to or bound by the orders of Erdogan,” he stated. “In no other state is prosecution this high,” he asserted.

“We are protecting Germany, Europe, the world. As we fight these terrorists, we were protecting Europe, especially Germany because if we don’t [fight], IS would hit many parts of Europe,” YPG spokesperson, Nouri Mahmoud, previously told Kurdistan 24.

“It’s unethical to stand against the people who protect you, while you are maintaining the interests of the terrorism of sultan [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan. This is a fact that has to be considered by the German people and government.”

Editing by Nadia Riva