The Kurdish community is disappointed

Memorial service not for all earthquake victims

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) is disappointed by the approach of the Office of the German Federal President towards the memorial service for the victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria: The Kurdish Community in Germany (Kurdische Gemeinde Deutschland, KGD) was not invited to the event in Berlin on February 20, 2023, which was organized by the Turkish Community in Germany (Türkische Gemeinde in Deutschland, TGD) and the umbrella organization of the German-Syrian aid organizations. “Frank-Walter Steinmeier is President of all the people living in the Federal Republic of Germany. He should take the sensitivities of the approximately 1.5 million German Kurds seriously as well,” stated Dr. Kamal Sido, the STP’s Middle East Consultant, in Göttingen today. “A joint event of the TGD, the KGD, Syrian associations, and the Alevi community in Germany would have given more space to the shared pain – and it could have promoted peaceful coexistence.”

In the run-up to the event, the KGD had contacted the TGD to ask whether a joint event would be possible. The Office of the Federal President had been informed about the request as well – but there was no reply. Nonetheless, the STP praised the President for setting a sign by closing his speech with the statement “We will stay by your side”, also in Kurdish. Further, the President’s speech was translated into Kurdish and published on the website of the President’s office. “This is quite unique for the Kurdish people in Germany – as Germany had supported Turkey’s attempts to suppress the Kurdish language and culture for decades,” Sido stated. “We hope that the Federal President and the German Federal Government will learn from the mistakes of the past and cultivate a new approach towards the Kurdish people and to Kurdistan.”

In his position as Foreign Minister – in the grand coalition under Angela Merkel – the President had supported the Syria policy of the Turkish ruler, who is now supporting the Islamists among the Syrian opposition against dictator Assad. In 2013, chancellor Angela Merkel had – upon Erdogan’s request – contacted US President Obama to exclude Kurdish representatives of the autonomous self-representation in northern Syria from the Syria talks in Geneva. “The Federal President and the German Federal Government must learn from mistakes like this, and condemn the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish region of Afrin in northern Syria as an internationally wrongful act of aggression,” Sido added.