the trial of eleven members of the PKK opens in Paris

Masks bearing the likeness of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan during a rally to celebrate Nowruz, the arrival of spring, in Istanbul, Turkey, March 19, 2023. MURAD SEZER / REUTERS

The trial of eleven members of the PKK, accused of having collected a “revolutionary tax” from the Kurdish diaspora in southeastern France and notably tried for extortion and “financing of terrorism“, opened this Tuesday in Paris. Only nine of these men, all Kurds from Turkey and aged 24 to 64, were present before the 16th chamber of the Paris Criminal Court, which specializes in terrorism cases.

Family“of one of the two men who did not show up recently”pressured in Türkiye“, explains his lawyer, arguing that his client may have “fearto come to the hearing. Another lawyer reports that her client’s sister was arrested in Turkey. Before the merits of the case were discussed, the defense lawyers challenged the characterization “terroristretained during the investigation.

“The minimum is to ask the question”

For the investigating judge, she is “acquired, indisputable, indisputable” SO “that there is a real debateWith regard to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), supports Me Raphaël Kempf, asking, like his colleagues, for the cancellation of the dismissal order. He recalls that his client said “from his custody“that he”did not consider the PKK a terrorist organization“. “The minimum is to ask the question“, he adds.

Me Blandine Weck de Terris drove the point home, recalling that “the PKK had helped to fight against (the group) Islamic Statein Syria. The PKK, engaged since 1984 in an armed struggle for an independent Kurdistan, is the sworn enemy of Ankara which classifies it as an organization “terroristlike the European Union and the United States. The court will consider the request along with the rest of the case, he announced after a recess. The case concerns a “networkof the PKK active in the Southeast region, and highlights the revolutionary tax collection, the “kampanya», main source of financing of the PKK.

Despite the “omertain the Kurdish community, testimonies and telephone tapping revealedreal bullyingof members of the diaspora and collection methods akin to “racketeering“, according to the investigators, even if”someKurds pay the tax out of ideological conviction andfull membershipto the PKK. The contribution, collected once a year, is set arbitrarily by thecollectorsaccording to the estimated income of each. For the “Southeast areafrom France, the annual amount collected was estimated at two million euros. The trial is scheduled until April 14.

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