Some 33 symbols of Kurdish military and political groups have been banned by the German Interior Ministry.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has ordered to ban 33 symbols, used by Kurdish military and political groups, including a portrait of founder of the Kurdistan’s Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, and flag of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), an ally of the US in Syria, the German Spiegel newspaper reported on Friday. The decision was taken amid rising tensions between Germany and Turkey.
According to the newspaper, on March 2, regional authorities and federal law enforcement received the five-page document with respective instructions and the attached list of prohibited symbols.
Explaining the prohibition of a portrait of Ocalan, who is currently serving a life sentence for forming an armed organization in Turkey, De Maiziere noted that such images against yellow and yellow-green background have “a significant emotional impact” and should be banned, as they are “especially suited to promote cohesion of PKK which is banned in Germany.”
Such yellow banners with Ocalan’s portrait have been often using at rallies, organized by German supporters of the PKK, who demand to release their leader.
Demonstration today in Stuttgart, Germany, demanding the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan. pic.twitter.com/tD9pI6koYv
— Hamza (@SOSYALlST) February 2, 2017
It is most beautiful to see Kurdish people & friends march everywhere for freedom for Öcalan. This is Germany: pic.twitter.com/PepGkX2xFo
— Rojava (@AzadiRojava) February 13, 2017
Despite the fact that the PKK has been banned in Germany since 1993, meaning its symbols have also been prohibited, supporters of the party continued to use the yellow flags at multiple Kurdish rallies across Germany.
In addition to Ocalan’s portrait, the banned list has also included the banner of the YPG, which is a part of the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) and considered by the Turkish government as a terrorist organization. As it was reported, in total, the list consists of 33 symbols, belonging to the PKK and its branches.
The German Interior Ministry has denied a speculation that the move’s purpose is to calm down Turkey, with which the country has very strained relations recently. According to German officials, the ministry regularly monitors if the ban on certain group’s insignia should be specified, according to the way this group operates.