What do Ukrainians think of Kurds

Under general suspicion: Kurds in Germany

Report:Stephan Stuchlik, Andreas Maus

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Georg Restle: “If you think this is a unfortunate individual incident, you should see our next film. You can get targeted by the security authorities pretty quickly in this country; for example, when one spreads normal news about Turkey's war against the Kurds in Syria. If there are symbols like the one you see behind me, then you can quickly get an unpleasant visit from the police. This is a completely legal organization of Syrian Kurds in Germany, the so-called YPG. In Turkey, however, they are considered terrorists, which is why the Turkish President repeatedly demands that their supporters be persecuted in Germany. The federal government has now obviously done him exactly this favor. Stephan Stuchlik and Andreas Maus. "

An alleged terrorist sympathizer plays here. Johannes König is a cellist with the Munich Philharmonic. Now the state security is investigating against him.

Johannes König, cellist, Munich Philharmonic: “I received a call on February 21st that surprised me very much from a state security commissioner who told me that you were currently in Facebook investigations and that it was about a post that was objectionable. It is an article by Bayerischer Rundfunk, which is illustrated with a flag of the YPG. "

The YPG flag is the symbol of Kurdish fighters in Syria. Bayerischer Rundfunk had illustrated an article about Kurdish organizations with the flag. The YPG is not prohibited in Germany and the Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation is also allowed to use such images. Only sharing such articles can be punishable - sometimes.

Reporter: "That means, the Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation can stop it with the flag, but I can't share it?"

Anne Leiding, Senior Public Prosecutor: “The question then really is how do you share it. And I can't tell you - yes, how should I say - not tell you just in case how you can share it and how you can't share it. "

The police were at the door of this shared apartment in the north of Munich. At six in the morning. Again, it was about the use of the YPG symbols.

Nargez Nassimi: “They said really loud: Police! Police! Open the door and do some threatening things too. And then when they came in, we're here about Benjamin. Where is he? Where is he? He wasn't home. I asked myself: what did he do? What's happening?"

What did Benjamin Russ do? The 32-year-old had used the YPG flag of the Kurdish fighters in Syria as a personal background image on Facebook.

Benjamin Russ: “I did that out of solidarity with the fight of the Kurds against the occupiers in their areas. Because I want to digitally support the fight for bare survival, at least in this case. "

The organization is allowed, the symbol is prohibited. How can that be? The Federal Ministry of the Interior had originally only forbidden to show the symbols of the banned PKK. For a year now, however, the use of symbols by other Kurdish associations has been a criminal offense if the PKK uses them as a substitute. Including the flag of the YPG, the fighters of the Syrian Kurds. Who is the YPG? It is the Kurdish fighters who have been fighting against Turkey's war of aggression in and around Afrin, which is contrary to international law, since January. And, the YPG fighters are the USA's most important allies in the fight against the so-called Islamic State. As here in Raqqa, they celebrated the victory over the Islamists together. And when they liberated the Yazidis in 2014, German politicians thanked them publicly.

Angela Merkel, Federal Chancellor, September 1st, 2014: “In the end, Kurdish forces intervened courageously. Only in this way could a large part of the Yazidis escape from the mountains. "

Thomas Oppermann, then SPD parliamentary group leader, September 1st, 2014: “I would like to take this opportunity to express my respect for the bravery of the Kurds. They bravely opposed the terrorist militias. "

A bravery that no one wants to remember today. For the Kurdish community in Germany, the ban on the YPG symbol is absurd.

Ali Ertan Toprak (CDU), Federal Chairman of the Kurdish Community: “In this respect, I find it absurd that part of NATO is fighting with this group against the Islamic State, and that Germany, as a NATO state, takes action against symbols of this group. I don't think you can really explain that to an objective observer. "

How massive the police are against the YPG symbols could be seen in Meuchefitz in Lower Saxony. Two dozen vehicles and 80 riot police were called in to have this banner with the YPG label removed. The former Federal Minister of the Interior Baum not only criticizes the police operations. He thinks the ban on the YPG flag is utterly nonsensical.

Gerhart Baum, former Federal Minister of the Interior: “These are overzealous overinterpretations of the PKK ban. Either you forbid the… the unification of the Syrian Kurds, then you would be consistent. But you can't because there is no reason to do so. Then you can't punish people who use this symbol. "

But how do such regulations come about? Foreign ministers Çavúşoğlu and Gabriel in Goslar when it came to the liberation of the journalist Deniz Yücel. The Turkish government had repeatedly called for Germany to take massive action against Kurdish associations such as the YPG. A wish that has obviously been fulfilled by the federal government.

Udo Steinbach, former head of the German Orient Institute: “Against the background of this friendship, the Turks are met where the shoe pinches, and that is when assessing the question of what the PKK actually is, what is the Kurdish question; in the assessment that you agree to it yourself and say, yes, they are terrorists.

But it's not just about symbols. Kurdish festivals are now also subject to prohibition. Like Newroz, the most important festival for the Kurds; a mixture of Christmas and New Years Eve party. Not only because YPG flags might be waved here. No, this new paper from the Federal Ministry of the Interior from January now moves the entire Newroz Festival into the area of ​​the forbidden. As a rule, it should always be assumed that the activities are related to the PKK. But there is even more: in the latest instruction from the Interior Ministry there is even a kind of general clause with which almost every Kurdish event can be banned.

Quote: "Ultimately, the PKK reference to a meeting can also be assumed if it is not derived from the person who registered the party, nor from the meeting's motto (...) but only from the actual course of the meeting taking place."

Gerhart Baum, former Federal Minister of the Interior: “That goes absolutely too far. We have a far-reaching, very far-reaching right to demonstrate in Germany. Even if a demonstration is to be feared of violence, it must be approved. (...) To say right from the start that we are assuming that the prohibition will be disregarded, that is not possible. That is unconstitutional. "

Cellist Johannes König does not challenge this. He has become a little better known through the police investigations against him, he says - but also a little more political.

Georg Restle: “And that is also part of the topic: The war of the Turkish army against the Kurds in Syria continued today with undiminished severity. A war that should also be called what it actually is: a war of aggression that is contrary to international law. "