Germany has declared a ban on two publishing companies for allegedly being linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The ban against Mezopotamien Publishing and MIR Multimedia was announced on Tuesday just hours after German authorities conducted raids on their premises in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony.
They used the “disguise of publishing companies” to benefit the PKK, which Germany banned as a “terrorist” group in 1993, the ministry said.
“[The groups] used their income to sustainably further the activities of the terrorist organisation in Germany and Europe. This systematically undermined the effects of the ban on the PKK,” the ministry said.
Kurdish organization NAV-DEM condemned the move to ban the groups with its director Tahir Kocer saying the German government was furthering an attempt by the Turkish government to obliterate Kurdish identity.
About three million people with Turkish roots, many of them ethnic Kurds, live in Germany making them the largest immigrant group in the country.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a lingering row with Berlin, has accused Germany of doing too little to crack down on his opponents, including the PKK.
Tens of thousands killed
The separatist PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation in Turkey, the European Union and the United States.
The PKK has waged a decades-long armed fight against the Turkish state that has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said “because the PKK is still active despite the ban in Germany, it is necessary to put the PKK in its place and enforce the law”.
The ministry said the PKK is “by far the largest foreign extremist organisation in Germany” with an estimated 14,500 followers.
German law enforcement launched thousands of proceedings against the PKK, prosecuted more than 90 people since 1992, and banned about 50 PKK-linked groups, the ministry said.