Head of Danish-Kurdish Academic Association: “An unjust law is no law”
On September 18th the Danish police conducted a search in a Kurdish community center in Copenhagen in order to find evidence of money transactions between Kurds in Denmark and the Kurdish rebel group, PKK.
8 Kurds were arrested for having collected money for PKK that is recognized as a terrorist group by Denmark. The police says they suspect the 8 men have collected about 9 million Euro from 2009 to 2012 and conveyed more than 19 million Euro to PKK.
The arrested Kurds were all charged with supporting terrorism. One Kurds has been released and one of the lawyers for the now 7 arrested Kurds is Bjørn Elmquist who is also a lawyer for ROJ TV.
The arrests of the 8 Kurds were conducted based on information that were revealed during the investigation of the Kurdish TV-station ROJ TV that was ruled a mouthpiece for PKK in a Danish court in January this year.
The police says that on February 5th 2012 a “PKK parliament” was established during a meeting on a school and it is this parliament that has been controlling the collection of money.
The court sessions have been closed for the public, and the court has ordered the identities of the arrested Kurds to remain unknown. Danish media has only informed that the 8 Kurds are aged between 27 and 71 and that one man has been released.
Shortly after the arrest the Turkish ambassador in Denmark, Berki Díbek, said they were following the news about the “financial support of terrorism.”
The day after the ministry of foreign affairs in Turkey sent out a press release about the arrests in Denmark.
No: 221, 19 September 2012, Press Release Regarding Operations Carried Out In Denmark Against the PKK Terrorist Organization
As a result of an extensive operation carried out by the Copenhagen Police on 18 September 2012, eight people were arrested for the crime of terrorism financing through extortion on behalf of the PKK. At a time when the PKK terrorist organization intensifies its brutal attacks and continues to kill innocent people indiscriminately, we welcome this step taken by the Danish authorities.
Stemming PKK’s activities abroad is one of the significant and primary issues in Turkey’s fight against this terrorist organization. As a matter of fact, it is a reality that the PKK continues its illegal activities abroad, especially in Europe, such as terrorism financing, human and drug trafficking and generates considerable revenue through this way. The operation carried out by the Copenhagen Police is an important development confirming PKK’s terrorism financing activities.
We hope that this operation will set a precedent for other countries, where the PKK terrorist organization conducts its illegal activities. Furthermore, we expect that additional steps will be taken in Denmark and European countries in general to prevent PKK’s aforementioned activities.
Alliance for Kurdish Rights conducted an interview with Farhad Sharifi who is head of FOKUS-A, the Association of Kurdish Students and Academics in Denmark and asked him about the recent events in Denmark.
What happened the day the 8 Kurds were arrested? Did the Kurdish community have any idea about what was going to happen?
The 8 Kurds were imprisoned and had to appear before court in 48 hours. The Kurdish community was surprised and not prepared. But FOKUS-A was not that surprised; it was more the way it [the arrests] was handled that surprised FOKUS-A.
We had a feeling that things would happen after the court’s verdict on the ROJ TV trial.
What happened in the Kurdish community center?
It was vandalism and an unnecessary use of power and force. They did not have to break things; for instance they could have asked the manager for the key to the safe. The police had a search warrant but they had forgotten to bring it with them.
How has the reaction among Kurds in Denmark been?
People have been frustrated, sad and angry. This [the search and arrests] is an indication of where the loyalty of the prosecution and the state lies.
Kurds have lost some of their faith in the Danish judicial system and the democracy that protects the individual.
How has Denmark reacted? Have any politicians commented on the case?
The Danish people are skeptical and sense there is something rotten about the case and that it is more political than judicial. Most politicians have kept unusually quiet. Especially seeing as it is a terrorism case, there should have been more noise about it.
But Morten Bødskov [Danish minister of Justice] has been out saying he will make it possible for the Danish state or court to go around the independent TV- and Radio Board and close TV-stations or suspend their broadcasting license.
How is this case connected to the ROJ TV trial?
It is all about ROJ TV. Before Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s NATO post, the Danish and democratic values were invaluable, now they have a price tag.
The money collected [by Kurds in Denmark] is given to Danish-Kurdish Culture Fund and if one remember, it was previously claimed that this money came from PKK.
Now they are saying the money has been given to PKK.
The documents [used as ground to arrest the 8 Kurds] were found during the investigation of the ROJ TV trial. One must remember that the appeal trial for ROJ TV is in a month, so it is very convenient for the prosecutors to put forward new evidence – especially as their case was weak in the initial trial.
What does this mean for the Kurdish people and the Danish community’s perception of them?
It simply means that a negative image is associated with the Kurds and their struggle, that Kurds are criminals and terrorists.
What does it mean to the Kurds? Nothing, because Kurds have always been labeled as this and that and none of them have been good.
How does Kurds in Denmark support PKK?
Most Kurds sympathize with PKK and support their fight. They participate in information campaigns and put focus on the situation in Turkey.
What has so far happened in court in the case of the arrested 8 Kurds?
They have been put in isolation and they are not allowed to be contacted by anyone except their lawyer. One has been released, because there was no proof or a case.
Because the case is taking place behind closed doors, I cannot say more about it or the 7-8 Kurds.
What can we expect the verdict to be?
It is hard to say as we do not know what documents they are in possession of. The court has given the prosecutors time to prepare their case and prolonged the time for presenting evidence. So we have to wait and see, we hope for the best but as always, we prepare for the worst. But we are sure there is no evidence that the 7 Kurds have conveyed money to PKK as this money is given to Danish-Kurdish Culture Fund.
I want people to understand that we, the Kurds, are not against democracy or a civilised society and co-existence.
We do what we have to do in order to BE what we where born as. We fight against oppression, not a democratic civilisation. Some say we are outlaws, but how can an unjust law be just?
Aurelius Augustine said an unjust law is no law. As a Kurd, as a human being it is my right, our right to fight by any means necessary. Any means necessary! Especially when we are fighting a military dictator state, an Islamic dictator state and a dictator. None of them has given us the opportunity to follow our God given rights in a civilised way, we have only been met with force.
How can we be called terrorists when we fight for peace, equality, freedom of speech and acknowledgement of our language, names, culture, history our existence?
We are up against state terrorism, is it so hard to understand that we fight back?
Update: We had previously written that a 71-year-old man had been released. This is not correct as we do not know the age of the one released.