German court acquits Kurdish man who chanted “Biji Serok Apo”
Despite the criminalization policies of the police and prosecutors in Germany, courts rule that Kurdish symbols do not constitute a crime. The court in Berlin acquitted a Kurdish man who was on trial for chanting “Biji Serok Apo”.
A mass protest had been held on March 13, 2018 in Berlin against the Turkish state and their allied gangs invading Afrin. The police had closely monitored the protest and launched an investigation against a Kurdistani man after identifying him from footage where he held a YPG flag and chanted “Biji Serok Apo” (“Long Live Leader Apo”).
After the police investigation was complete, the Berlin state court filed a lawsuit on the Berlin prosecutor’s demand citing the PKK ban of 1993. But the court ruled that chanting “Biji Serok Apo” is freedom of expression and that carrying a YPG flag does not constitute a crime right after the case started.
“SHOULD BE PRECEDENT FOR OTHER CASES”
The court ruling the ANF has obtained stressed that the YPG/YPJ is not a banned organization in Germany. The defense lawyer in the case Lukas Theune said the ruling is important for the people in Germany who have been criminalized for showing solidarity with the Kurdish people’s struggle for freedom.
Theune also pointed out that the court’s ruling should be a precedent for other cases in various German provinces: “Most importantly, the court issued this ruling by the beginning of the case. So the court openly says they see no signs that chanting such a slogan or carrying a YPG flag could be a criminal act.”
Theune added that the court ruling shows that chanting a slogan considered to be “banned/criminal” by the police or the state in a peaceful protest doesn’t violate the ban, and that they expect the prosecutor’s office to close the investigation after the acquittal.
FINES USED TO BE ISSUED
In Berlin and other cities in Germany, Kurds have been issued fines for chanting “Biji Serok Apo”, but the slogan was still the one most used in Kurdish rallies, marches and events.
Similar to this new ruling in Berlin, several local courts had previously ruled that the YPG flag doesn’t constitute a crime. Last March, the Aachen Court of Peace had found the police in the wrong in the case of a Kurdish man who posted a YPG flag on his Facebook account and was investigated for it.
Similarly, local courts in Frankfurt and Berlin had ruled that flags of PYD, YPG and YPJ, which have been considered part of the ban since March 2, 2017, could be carried. Despite these rulings, Kurds and persons who show solidarity with the YPG/YPJ in their resistance against ISIS and Turkish state attacks have been subjected to pressure.
In the state of Bavaria in particular, the police units stand out in their intolerance against the YPG. Bavarian police continue to raid the homes of activists citing the YPG flags as an excuse, and courts in the state issue fines for Kurdish and German activists for showing solidarity with the YPG/YPJ.