December 2, 2022

Sweden’s Kurds face anxious time as country seeks NATO membership

4 min read


“It’s not a comfortable position to live in,” he told CNN last month.

The requests of the Nordic countries initially came up with the unanimous support of all 30 members of NATO.

Then he Hit a snagResistance to: Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused countries of harboring “terrorist” organizations, which he claims pose a threat to his country’s security, especially Kurds in Turkey and elsewhere. – Campaigning for their homeland.
The President of Finland Sauli Niinistö and the Prime Minister of Sweden Sana Marin announced their countries.  Intends to join NATO

These groups include the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which for decades has been embroiled in a bloody war with Ankara for greater Kurdish independence, as well as branches of the Democratic Union Party or PYD and its militia, the YPG People’s Protection Units. Included. PKK active in Syria.

More than 80 US senators pledge Sweden and Finland to speed up ratification of NATO membership

Sweden denies asylum to people belonging to such movements and points out that the PKK is banned in many parts of the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, of which Sweden is a member.

However, the YPG has been receiving support from some Western countries for its role in repelling ISIS.

Finland, meanwhile, with a small Kurdish refugee population, has also stated its “tough stance on terrorism.”

So far, such announcements, angry diplomacy and the White House’s backing are not enough to break the deadlock and overcome Turkey’s objections.

A NATO official confirmed to CNN that delegations from Turkey, Finland and Sweden were meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Monday to discuss Turkey’s concerns.

Speaking at a joint press conference last week, Finnish Prime Minister Sana Marin said Finland and Sweden were “taking all issues very seriously and negotiating.” But, he added, “I also think that it is Turkey’s responsibility to try to find a solution at this stage.”

A view of Stockholm, the capital of Sweden.

Bahir took refuge in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city, after fleeing war-torn Iraq in 2014. He joined the 100,000 strong Kurdish minority, which experts estimate is now about 1% of the country’s population.

Kurds have no official homeland: most live in Middle Eastern countries, including northern Iraq, eastern Turkey, western Iran and small parts of northern Syria and Armenia, and many of those who now live in Sweden. Have come from these places.

Bahr’s friend Karim Haji Rasooli told CNN: “Erdogan is saying where you are from, if you are a Kurd and you want freedom then you are a terrorist.

Prior to the request, Sweden was divided over its decision to join NATO, with more than half the population voting in favor, according to polls. Similarly, many Gothenburg Kurds are skeptical.

Fawzi Baban (far left) fled the war in Iraq and has been in Sweden for 30 years.

In an anti-NATO demonstration outside Gothenburg’s town hall, Iraqi-born Fawzi Baban came to meet with fellow Kurdish friends to express their concerns about Sweden’s chosen route.

“NATO membership will lead us to more conflicts and perhaps more wars,” he says. “As a Kurd, I am more impressed. Look what some NATO members have done in my country. They have completely destroyed it,” he said, referring to the legacy of the two Gulf Wars and the subsequent ISIS attacks. Giving more.

Meanwhile, Hiva Cardoi, another Gothenburg resident with Kurdish roots, believes that NATO membership will help highlight the plight of his people and that they face discrimination in those countries.

“Many NATO countries are democracies with freedom of expression. We hope they will not accept what Turkey is doing,” he told CNN.

Picture of the Swedish Parliament building in May 2022.

As Sweden maintains its balance of NATO membership, experts say Turkey is renewing its pressure to extradite dozens of Kurds, who it claims are affiliated with organizations that threaten its security.

Many of the people Turkey is trying to extradite are now Swedish citizens, and the issue is so sensitive that Stockholm is reluctant to talk about it in public, except to say that they are concerned about these issues. Wants deeper bilateral talks with Turkey.

Baris came to Sweden seven years ago after being imprisoned in Turkey for his political views.

“The Swedish government could not immediately tell Turkey, but it did not,” said Bars One, a dissident who said he had fled to Sweden after being imprisoned in Turkey for his socialist political views. had gone. “Instead, they go there to talk to him. Kurdish and other asylum seekers, how should we think? Are they with us or with Erdogan?”

Turkey, meanwhile, told CNN it would not discuss individual extradition issues with the media.

Paul Levin, director of the Stockholm University Institute, said: “From a Turkish point of view, they are saying: Look, Sweden, (if) you want to join a military alliance of which we are a member, you have to be our national. Security must be respected. ” “We see these groups as a threat to national security. They (Turkey) make the same demands of other NATO member states but they do not have the same benefits as the arrival of Sweden,” he said. Waiting for

Leon added, “I clearly see limited land for compromise.

Nobel Peace Prize nominee and human rights defender Ragip Zarakolo is on Ankara's extradition list.

Lawmaker Amina Kakabaye, originally from Iran, is reportedly one of five Swedish parliamentarians on Turkey’s extradition list.

“I have been under my protection for the last six or seven years,” Kakabaw told CNN. Is a matter of freedom of expression.

“This is a threat to democracy. By not standing up for our rights, we are contributing to other issues. Today it is Turkey’s demand, tomorrow it may be another country’s,” he said.

He mentioned other prominent Kurdish figures on the list, such as 74-year-old author and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Ragip Zarakolo.

Zarakolo told CNN that he knows what Turkey’s prisons are like, first inviting them to settle in Sweden in the 1970s and most recently in 2012 for publishing work in defense of minorities – such as the Kurds – Were imprisoned before giving.

“Call me a terrorist. That’s ridiculous. Here’s my weapon,” Zarakolo said, holding up his pen. “Does it fire bullets?

“Of course, Sweden will not extradite me,” he added. “But it’s harassment.”

CNN’s Talia Kayali contributed to this report.



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