Ger­many al­lows PKK fol­low­ers to hold mass gath­er­ing in Cologne

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Politics -

A MASS gath­er­ing of sup­port­ers and sym­pa­thiz­ers of the out­lawed PKK ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion ti­tled “Free­dom to [PKK leader] Öcalan, Sta­tus for Kur­dis­tan, Democ­racy for the Mid­dle East” is sched­uled for Saturday in Cologne.

De­spite the PKK be­ing des­ig­nated as a ter­ror­ist group by Ger­many, Turkey and the EU since the 1990s, Ger­man au­thor­i­ties are al­low­ing the demon­stra­tion, or­ga­nized in sup­port of the PKK's im­pris­oned leader, Ab­dul­lah Öcalan, and the group's goal for in­de­pen­dence in the re­gion.

Or­ga­niz­ers of the event also pre­vi­ously said that the fes­ti­val would com­mem­o­rate sev­eral fallen PKK fight­ers.

Ber­lin pre­vi­ously al­lowed a march to be held un­der a slo­gan bear­ing the name of the im­pris­oned leader of the PKK, de­spite the Ger­man In­te­rior Min­istry hav­ing passed a ban on the bran­dish­ing of 33 sym­bols linked to the PKK in March, in­clud­ing the PKK flag and pho­tos of Öcalan.

The PKK has long en­joyed rel­a­tive free­dom in European cities and has a par­tic­u­larly strong pres­ence in Ger­many. PKK sup­port­ers have been al­lowed to hold ral­lies, re­cruit mil­i­tants and col­lect funds in Ger­many and sev­eral other European coun­tries, in­clud­ing Bel­gium, the Nether­lands and Switzer­land, where their ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties are met with sup­port.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent re­port from the Ger­man In­te­rior Min­istry in 2016, crimes com­mit­ted by PKK fol­low­ers in Ger­many in­creased by a stag­ger­ing 97.6 per­cent, with 1,597 cases re­ported. Many of the in­ci­dents in­volved PKK fol­low­ers vi­o­lat­ing demon­stra­tion and assem­bly laws, the re­port noted.

Ankara has long crit­i­cized what it calls Ger­many's in­dif­fer­ence to the ac­tiv­i­ties of var­i­ous ter­ror­ist groups within its bor­ders. Al­though Ber­lin out­lawed the PKK in 1993, au­thor­i­ties have been re­luc­tant to take strong mea­sures against the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s ac­tiv­i­ties, ig­nor­ing re­peated warn­ings from Ankara.

Ac­cord­ing to Ger­many's do­mes­tic in­tel­li­gence agency, the Fed­eral Of­fice for the Pro­tec­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion (BfV), the PKK has nearly 14,000 fol­low­ers among the eth­nic Kur­dish pop­u­la­tion in Ger­many.

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