Europe has abandoned the Kurds in favor of Erdogan

Kurds in European countries are feeling increasingly unsafe in the face of attacks by Turkish ultranationalists and European countries adopting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s narrative against them.

The Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Turkey, making up around 18 percent of the population. The Kurds also have a sizable presence in Iran, Iraq and Syria.
They are one of the largest ethnic groups without a state and have a long history of suffering discrimination and violence in Turkey and other countries.
Once praised in the West as valuable allies in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Kurds are now told not to carry the flags of Kurdish fighters, while numerous Kurdish activists have been deported to Turkey for alleged membership in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and most of its Western allies.
A recent example was from Metz, France, where two Kurdish activists were facing deportation to Turkey, despite the fact that they may be imprisoned for their political activities there. They had applied for asylum in France.
One of the activists, Firaz Korkmaz (24), told of his arrest at the age of 13 for graffiti he had painted and used to campaign for Kurdish rights as well as his subsequent harassment by Turkish authorities for his involvement with the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). Despite this persecution, the French authorities deemed their asylum applications ineligible. Korkmaz was deported to Turkey this week, where he was immediately arrested on charges of terrorism.
It is common for Kurds in Turkey who are politically active in the Kurdish struggle for recognition to be charged with terrorism for alleged links to the PKK.
Rights groups and international bodies regularly criticize Turkey for using its broad and vague anti-terror laws to crack down on dissent.
According to the Kurdish Democratic Council in France (CDKF), the deportation of Kurdish activists underscores a disturbing disregard for international protection against refoulement, the practice of returning asylum seekers to countries where they face persecution.
The deportation of Korkmaz from France to Turkey, where he was immediately arrested, illustrates one of the consequences of Europe’s capitulation to Turkish demands.
This incident in Metz is not an isolated case. Across Europe, Kurds find themselves in a difficult situation: Once celebrated for their resistance against ISIL in Syria, they are now being cornered by Turkey’s significant diplomatic presence, a country that has persecuted them for their quest for autonomy and rights.
In Belgium, a racist attack on Kurds by Turkish nationalists on Sunday highlighted the volatile diaspora politics spilling over into European cities.
On Sunday a Kurdish family celebrating Nevruz was attacked by a violent group of more than a hundred ultranationalist Turks. But what happened after the attack reveals a European environment that is increasingly tolerating Turkish political aggression.
The attack led to many violent incidents in Belgium, most of which were attacks by ultranationalist Turks on Kurds, as the far-right Turkish groups set up checkpoints in many areas to identify possible Kurds passing through their neighborhoods.
Heusden Zolder in Belgium has become a no-go zone for Kurds
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander Decroo, however, did not condemn the racist violence against Kurds but rather called on Kurds to refrain from displaying symbols of “terrorist organizations”
Many concluded that he was referring to the PKK, but the fact that the European Union recognizes the PKK as a terrorist organization does not automatically mean that Belgium does, which in fact it does not.
Many Kurds believe that the Belgian prime minister has prioritized relations with Erdogan over the internal security concerns expressed by Kurdish community leaders.
The presence and activities of Turkish ultranationalist groups such as the Grey Wolves on European soil have escalated tensions.
The Grey Wolves are considered the paramilitary wing of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and are banned in several countries.
However, the reactions of European governments have often been lukewarm, prioritizing geopolitical alliances over protecting the rights and safety of minorities.
In Germany protesters throwing bricks at the Turkish Consulate General in Hannover were labeled as PKK supporters by the Turkish government while also condemned by the German government in a statement.
A recent report by Sky News revealed how Kurds fearing deportation at the hands of German authorities are putting their lives in danger by crossing the English Channel to the UK.
Even Sweden, once a haven for Kurdish activists fleeing persecution, cracked down on Kurdish groups while trying to secure Turkish parliamentary ratification for its NATO membership bid.
In June Stockholm extradited a man who had been sentenced to more than four years in a Turkish prison in 2014 for transporting a bag of cannabis into Turkey.
The man claimed that the real reason he was wanted by the Turkish authorities was his links to the pro-Kurdish HDP and his support for the PKK.
Sweden also convicted a man in July for “attempted terrorist financing” for the PKK, a first in the country’s history.
Kurds, once lauded as frontline fighters against extremism, now feel marginalized and endangered in the countries that once promised them refuge and solidarity.
Ankara’s increasing threats of cross-border operations in Syria and Iraq, combined with severe repression in Turkey as well as the United States facing another presidency of Donald Trump, who largely acquiesced to Erdogan’s demands, create a hostile environment for Kurds wherever they go: one environment characterized by possible torture and repression by Turkish forces, and another with governments in Europe siding with Ankara against their demands for asylum and recognition.
Turkish Minute

News Code 159500

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