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Open letter to the German Government

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign


Free the Kurdish politician Remzi Kartal  - No Extradition to Turkey

We have learnt with dismay of the arrest of Remzi Kartal, a former DEP (Democracy Party) MP in the Turkish Parliament, vice-chair of KONGRA-GEL (Kurdistan People's Congress). He was detained by the German authorities at the request of Turkey on 22 January while he was on a visit to Nuremberg to attend a cultural event.

Remzi Kartal is a prominent Kurdish politician who has been active in Europe, working for a democratic and peaceful solution to the Kurdish question, since escaping from Turkey in 1994. His fellow DEP MPs Hatip Dicle, Leyla Zana, Orhan Dogan and Selim Sadak, imprisoned for daring to speak Kurdish in the
Turkish Parliament, were only recently released after a major international campaign.

Remzi Kartal is widely known to politicians and other public figures across Europe as a result of his tireless work lobbying for a peaceful political solution to the Kurdish question in Turkey. He is a well-respected and well-liked figure in the Kurdish movement and amongst friends of the Kurds. His detention is an attack on the legitimate political struggle of all the Kurds.

His current arrest seems likely to be a consequence of the mid-January meeting in Ankara between representatives of the US, Turkey, and the Iraqi interim government. One agenda item was Turkey's insistence that the US take firmer steps to eliminate the 5,000 KONGRA-GEL guerrillas based in the mountains of South Kurdistan (Northern Iraq) and that the EU act against the Kurdish organisation's representatives in Europe.

US and Turkey have consistently urged European governments to take stronger measures against KONGRA-GEL and its supporters among the Kurdish million-strong diaspora in Europe. We ask you to resist this pressure, not to participate in this process of criminalisation of the Kurdish people and in the persistent foiling of attempts to find a political solution to the Kurdish question.

It is not yet known what charges Remzi Kartal may be facing, but he remains in detention for maybe as long as 40 days in Germany while the authorities await a formal written request from Ankara for his extradition.

Remzi Kartal has refugee status in Belgium. If the German authorities were to ignore the protection afforded him under the refugee law of another country, that would be a flagrant breach of international law. And only recently on 20 January the Dutch Court of Appeal refused for a second time the Dutch
government's request to extradite well-known Kurdish activist Nuriye Kesbir on the grounds that Turkey's guarantees that she would not be tortured were not to be relied upon. The same would be true of Remzi Kartal if he were to be extradited to Turkey.

By taking the step of arresting Remzi Kartal, Germany is only making it harder to achieve a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question, while at the same time harming the attempts to democratise Turkey and encouraging the continued use of torture, human rights violations, and Turkey's policy of assimilation, denial and annihilation towards the Kurds.

We urge you to release Remzi Kartal immediately and refuse any request for extradition to Turkey in the spirit of peace, democracy and reconciliation.

 

For more information please contact:

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
tel: 020 7586 5892
fax: 020 7250 1317
e-mail: knklondon@gn.apc.org

 

February 2005

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