15/09/2012 RUDAW – By WLADIMIR van WILGENBURG – AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — Reinhold Gall, interior minister of the German state Baden-Württemberg, wants to ban organizations associated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The demand comes after a clash between the police and Kurds at a festival in Mannheim on Sept. 8 which resulted in dozens of injuries and 31 arrests. Forty thousand Kurds gathered for the 20th International Kurdish Cultural Festival under the motto “Freedom for Ocalan – status for Kurdistan.”
In a press statement, the police claimed that things escalated after they stopped a 14-year old at the entrance to the festival for having a banned PKK flag. After that, festival-goers started throwing stones at the police.
In a press statement, the organizers of the festival, YEK-KOM (Federation of Kurdish Associations in Germany), said they regretted the violent clashes between the police and some Kurdish youths.Furthermore, they blamed the media for one-sided coverage. “What was not mentioned was the fact that approximately 100 visitors to the event were injured by police batons and tear gas. Our sympathy goes out to those injured on both sides and we wish them a speedy recovery,” the statement read.
In a statement to Mannheimer Morgen, the minister called for a ban of organizations associated with the PKK, similar to the Kurdish station Roj TV, which was outlawed. The minister blamed the organizers of the festival for spreading misinformation that “heated up the mood,” and said police should pay more attention to “such propaganda in the future.”
YEK-KOM condemned the statements of the minister: “We condemn the demands of Baden-Württemburg Interior Minister Gall and the police union to further restrict freedom of assembly for Kurds. A further restriction of the democratic rights of the Kurdish population is unacceptable.”
The organization demanded that the “PKK ban be lifted, and that the state repression and criminalization against politically active Kurds be stopped. The German government must retract their support for the Turkish government, as long as it continues to wage war, implement bans and make mass arrests against the Kurdish opposition.” Heike Hänsel, a member of German Parliament for left-wing party Die Linke, spoke at the festival and was shocked by the events. She condemned the “violent actions against the police.”However, she also criticized the one-sided coverage that did not talk about the visitors who were wounded by the actions of the police. “The riots show that the PKK ban is overdue and should not be brought on the shoulders of policemen and women,” Hänsel said.