Turkey says Sweden’s decision not to investigate Kurdish protest is ‘ridiculous’

Turkey on Tuesday denounced the Swedish attorney general’s decision not to open an investigation into a Kurdish protest in central Stockholm, where an effigy of the Turkish president was hung from a lamppost, calling it “ridiculous”.

Last week’s protest outside Stockholm’s city hall sparked an angry response from Turkey, a NATO member that has been delaying approval of Sweden’s application to join the military alliance until the Swedish government cracks down on groups it sees as security threats. Turkey summoned the Swedish ambassador and canceled a visit by the speaker of the Swedish Parliament in response to the incident.

In Sweden, a newspaper reported that the public prosecutor decided not to open a criminal investigation into the hanging of an effigy of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Stockholm, saying that he had not committed any illegal act. District Attorney Lukas Ericsson told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet about the decision.

But Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu disagreed, saying the protest amounted to racism and hate crimes.

Turkey demands the hopes of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to surrender its hands to terrorism before it agrees to its membership: a report

“The (Swedish) prosecution’s decision not to investigate is very absurd,” Cavusoglu said during a joint press conference with the visiting Iranian foreign minister. “This was a racist incident consisting of hate crimes. So (the decision not to prosecute and investigate) is also against international law and a crime under international law.”

“If Sweden thinks they’ve screwed us up with these word games, I’d say they’re kidding themselves,” he said.

Fearing a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland abandoned their longstanding policies of military non-alignment and applied to join NATO in May. All 30 member states must agree to accept the two northern neighbors into the security organization.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the opening ceremony of the Amasya Badal Tunnel via video conference at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey January 19, 2023.
(Photo by Murat Cola/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The Turkish government has pressured Finland and Sweden to crack down on Kurdish exiles it accuses of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and groups it deems terrorist organizations, and to extradite people suspected of terrorism-related offences. Cavusoglu said last month that Sweden was not “halfway through” even by addressing his country’s concerns.

Pictures posted on social media showed a statue resembling Erdogan hanging upside down. A group calling itself the Swedish Solidarity Committee for Rojava claimed to be behind the protest. Rojava is a Kurdish name for northern and eastern Syria.

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Last week, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson called the protest an act of “vandalism” against Sweden’s bid to join NATO.

The Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into the incident after a criminal complaint was filed by Erdogan’s lawyers and sent a formal request for information and evidence from the Swedish authorities.

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