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BRUSSELS – Belgian authorities refused to allow the “Kurdistan Culture Week” festival, that was expected to start on 22 September in Brussels, the Kurdish Institute said on Saturday.
Although the institute officially applied for a permission on 13 June, it was notified by the local authorities on 14 September that they were not allowed to hold the “Kurdistan Culture Week”. This despite earlier pledges that the permission would be granted.
The Kurdish Institute in Brussels said it would file an appeal against the decision.
“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.”
“We are protesting against the decision of the mayor, and we have right to exist and to celebrate our culture!” Derwich Ferho, head of the Kurdish Institute said.
The decision by the local authorities comes after increasing violence and tensions in Turkey between the Turkish security forces and the Kurdish Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and many purges in Turkey after the failed military coup last July.
Kurdish Activists on Trial in 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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