Bonn bans Kurdish party

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The Independent Online
BONN - Germany yesterday banned the Kurdish Workers' Party, the PKK, in what the Interior Minister, Manfred Kanther, described as a 'clear signal against any form of extremism in Germany', writes Steve Crawshaw.

The Turkish Foreign Minister, Hikmet Cetin, welcomed the ban, saying he was 'happy that our friends have recognised that the goal of the terrorist association threatens democracy and human rights'. But the main umbrella organisation for Kurds in Germany, which is still legal, accused the German government of 'political opportunism'.

The PKK - which is stronger in Germany than in any other European country - has been associated with dozens of recent acts of violence in Germany and across the continent. More than 600 people are officially said to have been involved in a number of attacks on one day in June 1993, including the seizing of hostages at the Turkish consulate in Munich.

Earlier this month, one person was killed and several were injured after a Turkish restaurant was set on fire in Wiesbaden, in another day of apparently co-ordinated attacks on Turkish properties and institutions.

Germany, which prides itself on providing asylum for political dissidents and the victims of ethnic persecution, has long been unwilling to clamp down on the Kurdish organisation.

However, relations with the Turkish government had become strained after arson by extreme right-wingers led to the death of three Turkish women and girls in Molln a year ago, and the death of five women and girls in Solingen earlier this year. Mr Kanther declared yesterday: 'The PKK follows fanatical orthodox Communist thinking, and practises violence and oppression.' He said that members of PKK and other banned organisations now had 'the opportunity to free themselves of the pressure of the PKK'. But Komkar, one of the Kurdish organisations still legal in Germany, claimed hundreds of Kurds were now in danger of being deported to Turkey.

The PKK was recently banned in France, but Foreign Ministry sources in Bonn said yesterday that they were not aware of any co-ordinated Europe-wide action against the organisation.