The Düsseldorf prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation into a lawmaker from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) due to his recent call for the “destruction” of supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the faith-based Gülen movement during an event in the German city of Neuss, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Tuesday.
“Just as we won’t give them the right to live in Turkey, we won’t give them the right to live in Germany, either. No matter where they flee in the world, we will destroy the PKK and FETÖ terrorist groups,” AKP MP Mustafa Açıkgöz says in video footage circulating on social media on Monday, using a derogatory term coined by the Turkish government to refer to the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization.
The lawmaker’s remarks came during a meeting in Neuss of the Grey Wolves, which are seen as the paramilitary wing of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling AKP.
According to DW, the spokesperson for the Düsseldorf prosecutor’s office announced that an investigation had been launched into Açıkgöz to determine if his controversial remarks constituted a crime.
Açıkgöz’s comments led scores of people in Germany to file a criminal complaint against the MP, accusing him of publicly provoking people to commit crimes in a speech that could result in someone attacking and injuring or killing Turkish dissidents in Germany.
The investigation comes after the German Foreign Ministry on Monday warned the Turkish ambassador saying that “hate speech has no place in Germany” and that what Açıkgöz did during the event in Neuss “must not be repeated.”
“We made clear that foreign election campaign events must be approved by us in advance. If Turkish representatives don’t play by the rules, we must determine the consequences,” the ministry said in a tweet.
Dabei haben wir unmissverständlich in Erinnerung gerufen, dass ausländische Wahlkampfveranstaltungen vorher von uns genehmigt werden müssen. Wenn sich türkische Vertreter*innen nicht an die Spielregeln halten, müssen wir Konsequenzen prüfen. 2/2
— Auswärtiges Amt (@AuswaertigesAmt) January 16, 2023
Açıkgöz’s speech comes at a time when Turkey is preparing for parliamentary and presidential elections slated for summer.
A law introduced in 2017 banned non-EU leaders from campaigning on German soil within three months of elections in their country. Foreign officials also need to file a request with the German government to hold any kind of political event in Germany.
The law came after a handful of Turkish politicians campaigned in Germany ahead of a referendum on changes to the constitution that would bolster Erdoğan’s powers as president. Turkish residents in Germany were allowed to take part in the vote.
However, a number of local German authorities blocked Turkish lawmakers from speaking, citing security concerns. The move left Erdoğan infuriated by what he described as “Nazi era tactics.”
Meanwhile, DW on Wednesday said Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), the country’s domestic security agency, found the AKP lawmaker’s speech at the Grey Wolves event “worrying.”
The developments are expected to speed up the banning of the Grey Wolves in Germany, whose “violent tendencies” are said to endanger internal security in a recent report by the BfV.
In 2020 France officially banned the Grey Wolves after a center dedicated to the memory of those who died in the mass killings of Armenians during World War I was defaced with graffiti, including the name of the Grey Wolves.
The German government has faced an intensified public campaign in favor of banning the Turkish nationalist group since then.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community. More than 40,000 people, including 5,500 security force members, have been killed in four decades of fighting between the Turkish state and the PKK.