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Kurds found guilty over PKK flags vow to lodge appeals

by Sam Tobin at Westminster magistrates' court

THREE Kurdish men found guilty of knowingly carrying Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) flags vowed yesterday to appeal against their convictions.

Ismael Akdogan, 43, Rotinda Demir, 21, and Rahman Pwr, 23, were found to have carried an article in support of a proscribed organisation during a central London demonstration on January 27 opposing the Turkish bombardment of Afrin.

They all denied knowing that the flag was that of the Kurdish separatist group, but district judge Michael Snow ruled that all three were “in possession of a flag knowing that it was a PKK flag and by carrying it intended to demonstrate their support for the organisation.”

They also argued that section 13 of the Terrorism Act 2000 was incompatible with the right to freedom of expression under the Human Rights Act.

But Mr Snow rejected that argument, finding that a prosecution under section 13 was “proportionate” and necessary to “[enable] the state to counter and attack proscribed organisations.”

Solicitor Ali Has said the prosecution’s “literal interpretation” of section 13 meant that “the intention of the person wearing the clothing or displaying the item is irrelevant.”

If that was “the correct analysis, it is a classic example of how draconian anti-terrorism legislation can be and it will have far-reaching implications of the criminalisation of wider communities,” he added.

Mr Has said it was “critical that the rights of Kurdish people to express themselves, their emotions and make attempts through legitimate protest at highlighting their plight in the face of systematic persecution and assimilation is not disproportionately restricted by the unnecessary creation of a strict liability offence.”

Mr Akdogan, of Peterborough, Mr Demir, of Hackney, east London, and Mr Pwr, of Birmingham, were all found guilty of carrying an article supporting a proscribed organisation.

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