Kurdish political leaders celebrated a “historic” verdict on January 29 after a Belgian court ruled the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is not a terrorist organisation.
The decision came after nearly 10 years of legal wrangling over a bid to charge 37 Kurdish politicians with terror offences based on their alleged support for the group, which is proscribed by Turkey, the European Union, the United States, Japan and Australia.
Investigations started in 2006 against the politicians, including Brussels-based Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) officials Zubeyir Aydar, Remzi Kartal and Adem Uzun.
In November 2016, Brussels ruled that the PKK is not a terrorist organisation and that the case against them should be dismissed.
A series of appeals followed by the Turkish state and Belgian prosecutor’s office.
In a separate lawsuit, the European Court of Justice ruled in April 2018 that the inclusion of the PKK on the EU list of terrorist organisations was “unrightful” and that it had only been kept on it due to procedural errors.
But in November that year the same court concluded that due to new legal measures taken by the Council of Europe the PKK must remain on the list.
The January 29 verdict upheld a previous decision that PKK activity is not terrorism and as such acquitted the 37 defendants, ruling that they cannot be tried under terrorism laws in Belgium.
Speaking to ANF News, Aydar welcomed the historic verdict and said it “acknowledges the unfairness that the representatives of the Kurdish people have been through.
“The Court of Cassation ruling recognises the fact that the Kurdistan freedom struggle cannot be accused of terrorism, that what is in question is not terror but a war, and the PKK is a party of this war.
“This is a first in Europe and we hope it will set an example to other countries.”
Lawyer Jan Fermon said he hoped the decision would pave the way for a “political solution to the Kurdish question on a European level.”
[Abridged from Morning Star Online.]