They are protesting against the unjust and provocative arrest of Kurdish political campaigner and strategist, Mr Adem Uzun, on 6th October and the intensification of the French state’s arrest and detention operations against Kurds. According to the reports of the ANF News Agency, over 200 Kurdish asylum seekers have been taken into custody by French police for political reasons since 2007. The Ahmet Kaya Kurdish Cultural Centre in Paris has been closed by a Paris criminal court.
Adem Uzun, a leading official of the Kurdish National Congress (KNK), was on a peace mission to attend a conference in the French parliament to discuss the future of Kurds in Syria. He was arrested following Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comments in an interview on 27 September that ‘some main European countries such as Germany and France allowed “terrorist leaders” to freely live in their countries,’ (ANF, 17 October).
It is scandalous to see political campaigners who are striving to find peaceful diplomatic solutions to desperate situations that the Kurds face in countries, such as Syria and Turkey, subjected to arrest as ‘terrorists’ as a result of pressure from the US and Turkish governments. Adem’s statement in the European Parliament on 29 January 2009 remains as relevant today as it was then, given that the ruling AKP party in Turkey has intensified its assault against the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and human rights campaigners, journalists, lawyers, trade unionists and civil society activists in the name of the “anti-KCK ‘terrorist’ operations”:
“It is unfortunate that those profiting from the war in Turkey are being allowed to continue escalating it. There is no limit and boundary for these actions. As much as 80% of incidents that are taking place in Kurdistan do not get reported in the press. There is bombardment in Southern Kurdistan (Northern Iraq) every day. Dust and smoke raised by US and Turkish planes reach the sky, where it joins with that raised by Iranian cannon fire. All civilian Kurdish people in the region are forced to live in fear and panic. What we have here is a grand-scale brutality and intra-state terrorism. Secret meetings to liquidate the Kurdish freedom movement are continuously being held. This approach will not only fail to solve the problem, but it will also shed more blood. Unfortunately, the EU countries do not act on this matter [positively]”.
Instead, politicians like Adem – who are seeking to halt the influence of war profiteers and seeking to find a peaceful resolution to the oppressive situation in Turkey and Syria – find themselves unjustly criminalised and targeted on the absurd grounds of “suspicion of being involved in the purchase of anti-tank missiles,” (Reuters, 12 October). Adem’s targeting in France follows the shameful ‘guidance’ provided by the US Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which earlier had, equally shamefully, sought to criminalise him, this time on the grounds of ‘drug trafficking’.
As the EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) had commented on the matter at the time: “These outrageous, unproven accusations are just a new way of trying to criminalise well known Kurdish personalities and limiting their legitimate political activities … The new name appearing on the list is Mr Adem Uzun. Mr Uzun has been working politically on the Kurdish question for years. His impressive diplomatic capability and the way he represents the Kurdish issue and the Kurds on an international level, and particularly within the EU sphere, has helped pave the way toward promoting peaceful Kurdish diplomacy in Europe. It is obvious that the reason for the US officials’ accusations is not drug-trafficking but rather to inhibit the successful and effectual diplomatic representation of the Kurds in Europe, the US and elsewhere. Well-known Kurdish diplomats are being criminalised and efforts made to compel Interpol to hunt them. In this way the USA and Turkey” – and now, clearly, the French government – “are trying to stop the peace process in Turkey, to which Kurdish politicians in Turkey and Europe contribute the most.
‘’The fanciful unproven accusations by the US OFAC are simply made to stop well-known and acknowledged Kurdish politicians and spokespersons from travelling abroad and thereby hinder their further contact with the international media and legal institutions, particularly within the Schengen area”.
We reiterate the solidarity call that the EUTCC made when Adem Uzun was criminalised by the US OFAC: “We call on political bodies, parliamentarian co-operation partners and NGOs in Europe – who work with these named Kurdish politicians (particularly Mr Adem Uzun) for a transparent political and peaceful solution to the Kurdish question in Turkey – to send out a letter of confidence and support which takes a stand against these unproven accusations”.
We call for Adem Uzun’s immediate and unconditional release.