Germany: Ban upheld on Kurdish publisher, music distributor

February 17, 2022
Protest outside the court. Photo: ANF English
Protest outside the court. Photo: ANF English

A landmark appeal against a ban imposed on a Kurdish publisher and a Kurdish music distributor failed in the German Federal Administrative Court on January 26.

The court ruled that the Federal Ministry of Interior's decision to prohibit Mesopotamia Publishing House and Mir Muzik in 2019 was "in accordance with the law". The legal battle by the Kurdish institutions will now be taken to a higher court.

Responding to the decision, Peace in Kurdistan issued a statement calling for the ban to be lifted and for Kurds “to be allowed to exercise the right to free expression, publishing and musicianship”.

“This is an attack on every one of us."

The German government imposed the ban on the leading Kurdish publisher and music distributor, charging them with being “sub-organisations” of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist organisation.

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign said: “the action led the German authorities to seize what has been estimated to be the world’s largest Kurdish music archive along with publisher’s stock amounting to around 50,000 volumes. This represents an enormous suppression of Kurdish literature and culture by a European state, possibly the largest single move against Kurdish culture outside Turkey.

“Unsurprisingly, Ankara welcomes this clampdown, which effectively marks an extension of repressive Turkish state policy inside the European Union.

“Facing total suppression of Kurdish culture and self-expression in their homeland, Kurdish communities in exile have long expected to enjoy the freedoms and rights that are cherished by all European citizens. They have exercised their rights to self-expression, studied their culture freely, developed their musical traditions and explored their literature through verse and other writings. These works and publications have enabled Kurdish people to pass on their heritage and history to younger generations who have been born in exile and grown up with no direct knowledge of their culture and traditions. Publishers and music distributors have provided a vital function in keeping Kurdish culture alive.

“The suppression of these two leading publishing organisations in Germany is an outrageous attack on the rights of the Kurdish people. It is also a betrayal of the fundamental principles of liberty and freedom of expression that were once seen as Europe’s main legacy to human society and the advance of modern civilisation.

“That the German state is now taking such extraordinary repressive measures against a minority migrant community who have sought refuge within German society is a deeply worrying development. It effectively means that the civil rights long taken for granted are to be denied to those who seek to escape from the savage and unrelenting repression that they face in their country of birth.

“This deplorable action leaves Germany open to the charges that it is acting on behalf of Turkey and that, in fact, it has become little more than Turkey’s sycophant and flunkey.”

The defence lawyers told ANF English that the court committee was under political pressure and that the judges were struggling to find a legal underpinning for the ban. Lawyer Lukas Theune announced they would object to the Federal Administrative Court's reasoned decision and take the matter to the Federal Constitutional Court: “The court's support for the prohibition is a legal disgrace because the Kurdish culture is at question here. As a result, we will continue our legal fight.

“If the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe upholds the Ministry of Interior's prohibition judgment, we will again take the issue to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), because domestic law solutions in Germany have been depleted.”

[Compiled from Firat News Agency.]

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