from thefreeonline By Turkish Minute on January 17, 2023
Picture taken on January 16, 2023 in Stockholm, shows an effigy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the back of a car of Andreas, 39-year-old, member of the Swedish solidarity committee for Rojava, in Stockholm. Their action threw another spanner in the works of Sweden’s efforts to join NATO and pro-Kurdish activists who hanged on January 11, 2023 an effigy of Turkey’s president in Stockholm argue their “provocation” was in the name of free speech.Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP
Pro-Kurdish activists in Stockholm who hung an effigy of Turkey’s president, further impeding Sweden’s bid to join NATO, say their stunt aimed to draw attention to Ankara’s “dictatorial” regime, Agence France-Presse reported.
The brazen stunt in front of the city hall incensed Turkey, which has yet to ratify Sweden’s bid to join NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine last February.
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Ankara wants Stockholm to crack down on activists close to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party and people accused of having ties to Fethullah Gülen, a US-based preacher wanted over a failed 2016 coup, before it approves Sweden’s NATO aspirations.
Andreas, a 39-year-old Swede speaking to AFP on condition that his surname not be disclosed, showed a doll resembling Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with a rope still tied to his ankles.
He and four other activists from the pro-Kurdish Rojava Committee of Sweden hung the effigy by the feet.
The display was meant to mirror the grim end of Italy’s late dictator Benito Mussolini in 1945, when his body was strung up after he was executed.
Presented as a reminder of the fate of “dictators,” the action was staged and filmed before being posted on social media.
The provocation caused outrage.
Sweden’s ambassador was summoned in Ankara, which denounced it as “terrorism.”
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson called it “sabotage” and condemned a “mock execution of a foreign democratically elected leader.”
‘Sabotage not a bad word’
“We did not expect it to get as big as it did,” Andreas admits, “but of course it’s good that the word got out.”
“All of these actions we are doing just show more and more how undemocratic Turkey is. A normal democracy would never have reacted like this,” he said.
In the Scandinavian country, NATO membership was long taboo, especially on the left.
But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine flipped public and political opinion as did the prospect of neighboring Finland joining.
While polls showed a sharp swing in favor of NATO, many are disgruntled that there was little public debate before the previous Social Democratic government announced the country’s bid in May.
Andreas, who describes himself as a “socialist” sympathizer who became passionate about the Kurdish cause because of the war in Syria, does not shy away from being labelled a saboteur.
“For me, sabotage is not a bad word… many political changes have happened through sabotage,” he says.
The Rojava Committee is a “small group” of less than 100 supporters without financial backing, he says, “so we are using the means we have.”
No laws broken
Slow-moving negotiations with Ankara have also raised fears the Nordic country, which has long proclaimed itself a “moral superpower,” is prepared to sacrifice too much in the name of realpolitik.
Ankara and Budapest are the only holdouts who have yet to ratify Sweden’s NATO membership.
Turkey has also demanded the extradition of some people, but the Swedish courts have blocked that.
Swedish pundits have stressed that though the mock hanging was in bad taste, it was well within the country’s freedom of expression laws.
Prosecutors said Monday a complaint of “defamation” had been dismissed and decided not to open an investigation.
“We knew it wasn’t a crime because we have people working with the law in our group,” Andreas says.
“We are not trying to break any laws, and we’re doing what we can to protest,” he adds.
In a sign that their action was perceived as harmless among Swedes, it took place in broad daylight, in full view of passers-by.
“People came up asking: ‘What is this?’ ‘Interesting.’ ‘Is it Erdoğan?’ Nobody cared when we did it.”
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The group is organizing a demonstration against the Turkish regime and Sweden joining NATO on Saturday in Stockholm.
Following last week’s stunt, a small left-leaning newspaper launched a competition for satirical drawings of Erdoğan, with a prize of 10,000 Swedish kronor (about $950).
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Erdoğan’s remarks have indicated that Turkey has increased the number of people whose extradition it is seeking from Sweden and Finland. It was first 33 people, and Radio Sweden reported last month that it rose to 42, including 16 alleged members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), 12 people with alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement and seven from leftist groups in addition to seven people who are accused of such crimes as smuggling. The exact number of people whose extradition is demanded by Turkey from Finland is not known.
Yet, Erdoğan put the figure at 130 on Sunday.
Journalist Bülent Keneş on list
Recalling a recent visit paid by Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson to Ankara whom Erdoğan described as “not a bad person,” he said he asked for the extradition of journalist Bülent Keneş from Sweden at a news conference with Kristersson during his visit, but the Swedish judiciary has “interestingly” rejected Turkey’s request about Keneş.
Sweden’s Supreme Court in December refused to extradite Keneş, saying that some of the accusations against him weren’t crimes in Sweden.
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