Belgian authorities give permission for Kurdish festival after losing appeal

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On the occasion of the 2nd edition of the Kurdish Cultural Week in Brussels, on 24th September 2015, a march with traditional costumes, music, and with a couple riding horses like done during weddings went through the center of the city. (Photo by Aurore Belot/NurPhoto)

ARA News 

BRUSSELS – The Belgian authorities have changed their decision on banning a Kurdish festival in the city of Brussels, after the organizers won an appeal against the decision on Monday.

“It’s now 99 per cent sure that we will get the approval. Today the Council of State decided that there was no reason to not give a permission for the festival,” Derwich Ferho, the head of the Kurdish Institute in Brussels told ARA News.

“I suspect that the Mayor knew we would win the appeal, and tried to correct his earlier statements,” he said.

The Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur said today that there was an ‘administrative error’, and said the Kurdistan Culture Week festival was still approved.

The mayor of Brussels earlier announced that the event was cancelled without giving further details. The Turkish media said that the event promoted the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Turkey has pressured European states to take more actions against Kurdish activists, after a ceasefire broke down between the PKK and Turkey in July 2015.

“I am sure the decision from the mayor and the city council was influenced by Turkish pressure,” Ferho told ARA News.

“An event like the Kurdistan culture week is more important than ever amidst the horrific events taking place in the Kurdish areas,” the institute said. “It brings people together with the aim of peace and tolerance.”

The attempt to ban the Kurdish festival coincides with a trial against 33 Kurdish activists accused of ‘participating in terrorist activities’ in Belgium.

“The charges are almost entirely based on evidence produced by the Turkish state, which is also a civil party in the trial,” the Kurdish institute said in a statement.

“A 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 institute said.

Most likely on Tuesday the court will reach a decision whether to prosecute the Kurdish activists for alleged links to the PKK or not.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Source: ARA News

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