8,000 euro fine for displaying ‘Freedom for Kurdistan’ banner in Galicia

A Galician organization will face a court hearing, accused of displaying a pro-Kurdish banner during a football match between Celta de Vigo and Fenerbahçe of Istanbul. Proceedings were initiated at the request of the Turkish police, who were in the stadium at the time. In Turkey, it is an offence merely to mention the word ‘Kurdistan’.

The match in question was a UEFA Cup meet in November 2006 between Celta de Vigo and Fenerbahçe at the Balaídos Stadium in Vigo, Galicia. A few minutes before kick-off, a large banner with the words ‘Freedom for Kurdistan’ was displayed in the stands. Those responsible for the banner clearly seized the opportunity to diffuse their message during an international match that was being broadcast across Europe, as well as in Turkey. Moments later, Turkish security forces in the stadium informed the Spanish police, who immediately took down the banner and ejected two people wearing ‘Kurdistan Solidarity Association’ (ASK) T-shirts from the stadium.

The Vieiros newspaper reported the story when ASK received notification that it would face a court hearing, having denied accusations made against it and refused to pay an 8,000 euro fine. ASK members say that the Spanish judiciary have accused them of “violent behaviour” – despite the fact that it has not been proven that they were responsible for displaying the banner – and highlight the “political motivation” of the accusations brought against them.

The Turkish state has always refused to recognize the Kurdish population, despite the fact that the Kurds inhabit the entire western region of the country. Not only does the Kurdish language lack any form of official recognition, but any attempt to normalize is immediately repressed. Any mention of Kurdistan, the name given to the region where the Kurds live, currently split between Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, is also prohibited.



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