Flags of PKK-affiliated YPG allowed in rallies, Berlin police say

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published

Berlin police will reportedly tolerate the symbols of the People's Protection Units (YPG) in rallies, despite being banned in Germany.

The YPG, the armed wing of Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria, is not listed as a terrorist organization in Germany, however carrying its symbols were banned last March. The YPG and PYD are the Syrian affiliates of the PKK terrorist organization, which is on the terror group lists of the U.S., EU and Turkey.

The Berlin police's controversial decision after a group of PKK followers held a rally last Saturday in the German city, during which the YPG's banned flags were widely carried. Police had reportedly collected some YPG flags from the protesters, which the protesters complained about.

The French news outlet AFP, which quoted German daily Tagesspiegel, said the Berlin police, in agreement with Interior Senator Andreas Geisel of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), announced that it would "refuse to

order prohibitions of such flags."

Geisel himself was quoted by the newspaper as saying that they wanted to "follow only symbols that are actually relevant to criminal law."

The former leader of the PKK-affiliated PYD, Salih Muslum, also attended Saturday's demonstration in Berlin.

While Germany lists the PKK as a terrorist organization, it does not include the YPG on the same list. Turkey sees no difference between the groups due to the organic organizational links between them.

Still, the PKK's supporters have been able to carry out mass rallies across Germany for many years, and other European cities.

Berlin's reluctance to combat PKK activities in the country has caused serious friction between Turkey and Germany.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly criticized the indifferent stance by Turkey's Western allies, saying that ignoring terrorism will eventually turn into a problem for them.

Last year, a report from the European Union's law enforcement agency EUROPOL revealed that Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Romania and Switzerland are countries where the PKK openly conducts propaganda and fundraising activities, according to the "European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2017."

"Belgium, France, German, Italy, Romania and Switzerland reported that the PKK has continued its fundraising, propaganda and recruitment activities," the report said, adding that the terrorist group has a powerful organization and support in France, Italy and Switzerland.

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