33 Kurdish activists on trial in Belgium

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Belgian soldier outside the Brussels Palace of Justice. File photo

ARA News 

BRUSSELS – 33 Kurdish activists are being prosecuted by Belgian courts, the Kurdish Institute in Brussels said, accusing Turkey of influencing the Belgian judicial process.

“They are accused of participating in terrorist activities, but in reality all of them have been engaged in peaceful and democratic activities in Belgium, an EU member state,” the institute said. 

According to the Kurdish Institute in Brussels, the charges are “entirely based on evidence produced by the Turkish state, which is also a civil party in the trial”. 

“At the same time, this state [Turkey] is waging a war against Kurdish people, committing crimes against humanity, and suppressing human rights activists, journalists, lawyers, politicians and in fact anyone who criticizes the AKP [Justice & Development Party] government and its president,” the institute said in a statement.

According to Kurdish activists in Belgium, the trial goes far beyond the Kurdish question. “Conviction of these Kurdish activists would be an abuse of the anti-terrorism law, and will lead to the diminishing of the fundamental rights of everyone living in Europe.” 

The Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has criticized European countries, including Belgium, for being “too soft” on activities of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and has put more pressure on Western countries to prosecute PKK sympathizers.

In the Netherlands, the Dutch police reportedly started registering PKK sympathizers, raising criticism from the Kurdish community that they are being criminalized.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Source: ARA News

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