Asking you for solidarity

Kerem Schamberger, Vice-Chair of transform! europe’s member organisation ISW (Institute for Social, Ecological and Economic Studies) calls for solidarity and trial monitoring.

Important Update (19.09.)

Court hearing temporarily cancelled!

The two scheduled trial days of the mammoth trial against me on October 1 and 15 were cancelled.
The local court wants to wait for the outcome of a similar trial (showing the YPG flag) at the Higher Regional Court. This means that the charges against me are currently being upheld, because the district court wants to know how the higher court will decide. It is now up to this court and it could be that there the YPG flag ban in Bavaria will be lifted. Or not.
For weeks we have been preparing for the trial, considering a defence strategy, organising witnesses and writing speeches. Only two weeks before, everything is cancelled. This letter means that the decisions in my cases will be delayed for some more months.


Dear friends, dear comrades, dear interested people,

on Tuesday, 1 October 2019 at 09:30 am and on Tuesday, 15 October 2019 at 09:30 am a major trial against me will be held in the district court of Munich/Germany (Nymphenburger Straße 16, room A221, second floor).

I am asking you to attend this trial. Although the focus is on me the real target is all of us. And in Munich we know that it is not only I who am affected but also dozens of people who have shown solidarity with the people of Northern Syria/Rojava and the YPG/YPJ People’s  and Women’s Protection Units.

What are these two trial days all about in concrete terms?
In its indictment, the prosecutor summarised a total of thirteen charges against me. Ten of them involve showing symbols of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (Yekîneyên Parastina Gel, YPG), the Women’s Protection Units (Yekîneyên Parastina Jin‎, YPJ) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD). I have exhibited their symbols both on the internet and at demonstrations against the annual NATO Conference in Munich, against the Turkish war of aggression on Afrin and at the Union’s demonstration on International Labour Day, 1 May 2018.
The prosecutor is actually accusing me of showing symbols of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

This is especially bizarre because a photo of peace activist Claus Schreer, Kurdish activist and member of Munich’s immigration advisory board Azad Bingöl, and myself appeared in the Abendzeitung, a local Munich newspaper, in which I hold up a YPG logo [1], I am also accused of having shown a sign ‘which the “PKK” has usurped’, according to the prosecutor.

Another accusation relates to a Facebook post of mine after police searched my apartment on 13 November 2017. Back then one or two officers of Turkish origin were present. One of them was known to me as a police officer from many demonstrations in Munich. After the house search I called her a ‘Turkish nationalist’. I am therefore accused of slander.

The last two charges relate to quoting and showing/publishing indictments or other official documents of criminal proceedings.
What is this all about? I had partially published the search warrant of my own apartment, as well as an order of the district court of Aachen regarding the rejection of a YPG-related fine. In none of the publications were personal data of those affected or involved recognisable!

Ban on the PKK in Germany

Since 1993 the PKK has been outlawed in Germany – a gift of the then Minister of the Interior Manfred Kanther (CSU) to the NATO partners but also for German domestic policy. The images of the Turkish army deploying old German tanks against the Kurdish civil population were too widely seen. This provoked outrage within Germany. With the 1993 ban these weapons suddenly were reconfigured as being used against ‘terrorists’. In the EU the PKK was counted as a terrorist organisation from 2002 onwards, and at least from 2014 to 2017 this was unfair, as the European Court of Justice found in November 2018.[2] By contrast, the prosecution of the Kurdish freedom movement in Germany, which actually had begun in 1989 with the so-called Düsseldorf trials, knows no bounds. Tens of thousands of Kurds have been prosecuted and jailed in the last thirty years for expressing political opinions; asylum hearings were decided negatively by pointing to PKK involvement, naturalisation prevented by citing alleged intelligence reports by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Germany’s intelligence agency), and the fundamental right of freedom of assembly massively restricted.

By contrast, Belgium does not view the PKK as a terrorist organisation but as a party engaged in an inner-state conflict. On these grounds the prosecution of dozens of PKK members in Belgium was terminated by decision of the country’s highest court.

Not so in Germany, whose partnership with Turkey is more than a hundred years old. In March 2017 the Ministry of the Interior put more wood on the fire, presenting a list with numerous organisational acronyms alleged to have been ‘co-opted’ by the PKK. They included the logos of the YPG/YPJ People’s and Women’s Defence Units, which, at a heavy cost – 10,000 dead and more than 20,000 wounded – defeated the Islamic State. Ever since then the prosecution of any sign of solidarity with the liberators of Kobanî and large parts of northern and eastern Syria has been proceeding at full speed. Especially in Bavaria dozens of people are standing trial because they shared YPG/YPJ flags on the internet or carried them in demonstrations.

A political trial…

For the first day of the trial, 1 October 2019, the prosecutor has already summoned eight (!) police officers as witnesses against me, including above all from the so-called ‘state protective forces’ (Staatsschützer), which means the political police. It remains to be seen which state and which order they are ‘protecting’. The first day’s proceedings are scheduled for 9:30 am until at least 5 pm.

I am represented by the lawyers Berthold Fresenius (Frankfurt) and Yunus Ziyal (Nuremberg), who have many years of experience in political trials. Fresenius was active in the NSU trial (Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund/ National Socialist Underground) and both have represented ten Turkish communists up to now who have been on trial in Munich for years.

It is clear to me that the prosecution’s charges against me are purely political. It is about intimidation and discipline. This began in 2014 with the termination of my mother’s Commerzbank account, due to me being her son. It continued with the threat of Berufsverbot (employment ban) in 2016, and now the YPG trials are set for this year.

The aim is to silence critical voices in Bavaria/Germany. But this will not succeed as long as we stand together. We will therefore also make it a political trial, invite appropriate witnesses and show that this aggression by the prosecutor will not work!

The Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched a unique wave of investigations and indictments in Bavaria and throughout Germany, although the proceedings regarding these issues (YPG/YPJ symbols, etc.) are almost exclusively resulting in acquittals or suspended proceedings throughout Germany. In the vast majority of the country’s federal states, the showing of YPG/YPJ symbols is thus no longer prosecuted. Even in Munich in recent months numerous defendants were acquitted or the trials discontinued (only the most active individuals were sentenced in order to set an example). In almost all of these recent judgments, however, the Munich Public Prosecutor’s office has appealed the verdict. The proceedings at the second judicial level are still ongoing.

Just imagine all the costs in terms of time, nerves, and money! And all of this precisely when there is a plethora of complaints from judicial circles of a ‘work overload’.

Finally: My solidarity continues to be with those forces in Rojava/ Northern Syria, who are working for the liberation of women, for an emancipated society and against the so-called Islamic State and other terrorists and despots. The ones still fighting are the People’s and Women’s Defence Units, the YPG/YPJ. Through their struggle and fight they are also defending our freedom.

So I would be very happy if you take the time to come to the Munich District Court (Nymphenburger Straße 16) on Tuesday, 1 October 2019 at 09:30 and Tuesday, 15 October 2019 at 09:30.

Our slogan is: Alone we are too weak, together we are strong.

Solidary greetings

Kerem Schamberger

PS: You are welcome to forward this call for solidarity to people who are also interested in coming. I should point out that this is not a call for a rally. It is about participation in a trial. Since interest in participation might be quite high, we will request relocation of the trial to a larger room in the same building.



[1], PKK-Fotos verboten: Stadt beschränkt Siko-Demo, 14.02.2018

[2] PKK zu Unrecht auf EU-Terrorliste, 15.11.2018