At dawn on August 20, the offices of Kurdish groups in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne were raided by Australian Federal Police and state police. Police alleged the groups were linked to the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which struggles for self-determination for the oppressed Kurdish minority in Turkey.
The PKK was listed as a “terrorist organisation” by the Australian government in 2005. Kurdish leaders in Melbourne, along with the association’s lawyer Chris Ryan, questioned the timing of the raid, coming as it did the day before the federal election.
The August 20 Age quoted Ryan as saying: “The timing of this is not coincidental. [It's] to show they are tough on terror before an election. It's a stunt … they could have done it after the election.”
The Socialist Alliance strongly condemned the raids, describing them as “a cynical pre-election maneuver and yet another attempt to sow fear and suspicion into the broader community”.
The following statement was released by the Socialist Alliance’s Senate candidate for Victoria, Margarita Windisch on August 20.
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There is no doubt that these raids were well orchestrated to coincide with the federal election and to justify the existence of unjust anti-terror laws that are aimed to curb our civil liberties.
The Kurdish Association of Victoria has been around for more than 25 years, doing the same thing it has always done — promoting Kurdish culture and providing social support for the Kurdish immigrant community.
Suddenly it is suspected of terrorist-related activity, even though police confirmed that the raids were not related to a terrorist threat. Muslim and Tamil community members have also been subject to this outrageous intimidation by the state.
The Kurdish people are one of the largest oppressed ethnic minority groups in the world, struggling for self-determination and to end brutal discrimination.
We need to ask ourselves, why are they being targeted now? Maybe the Turkish government is putting pressure on Australia — just like the Sri Lankan government did — to stop community members from raising human rights violations taking place in Turkey.
If we are so concerned about terrorist activity and the need to protect civilian lives, Australia should immediately withdraw its troops from Afghanistan and end military engagement in Iraq. Australia should also cut ties with Israel and Sri Lanka, two governments infamous for their state-sanctioned terrorist activities and assassinations of opposition activists.