Kurds deported to Turkey, NATO militarisation continues

Editorial from Offensiv, paper of Rattvisepartiet Socialisterna (our sister organisation in Sweden)

Sweden’s application to join Nato is pushing Swedish politics even further in a “blue-brown” direction. The consequences are already extremely clear:

  • Deportations of Kurds to Turkey, with police on standby at the airport.
  • The Swedish army’s commander-in-chief Micael Bydén says yes to nuclear weapons and wants to send troops to the Baltic States.

On Saturday morning, two Kurds were deported from Sweden to Turkey. They were greeted by a cheering squad in the official Turkish media. This comes directly after the new right-wing Swedish foreign minister, Tobias Billström, visited Erdoğan, where he stressed that NATO membership is of paramount importance.

Mahmut Tat was sentenced to six years in prison in Turkey for “association with the PKK” before he fled to Sweden. But after five years of waiting for a decision from the Migration Agency, he was refused asylum in 2020 and then his appeal was rejected in 2021. Now he was arrested by Swedish police, held in custody (refugee prison) and deported last Saturday along with another man in a specially chartered plane. Turkish police were waiting at Ankara airport.

Erdogan’s demands

The government is pretending that this has nothing to do with Sweden’s NATO application. The Erdoğan regime has demanded that at least 33 people be extradited in order for Turkey to say “yes” to Sweden as a member state. The new minister for migration, Maria Malmer Stenergard, says — like all previous migration ministers — that it is the Migration Agency that decides and that politicians cannot interfere.

This is not true! Who is it that gives the Migration Agency directives? In 2015, the government and the right-wing parties “reset” refugee policy to the worst level in the EU, with the aim of stopping people on the run from coming here. Of course, they can also make decisions in the other direction — but they don’t want to.

Mahmut Tat tells the news site Blankspot that Swedish secret police Säpo questioned him about an “association with the PKK ‘’ after he participated in two demonstrations. This is not the first time that Säpo has cooperated with Turkey’s security service. the MIT. In 2020, Kurdish refugee Resul Özdemir, who had been active in the leftist HDP party, Turkey’s third largest party, was deported after several interrogations with Säpo. HDP leader, Selahattin Demiratas, has been in prison since 2016. Last autumn, Znar Bozkurt, a homosexual and Kurd, came close to being deported, but was rescued after large protests.

The government, backed by the Social Democrats, is apparently prepared to go along with Erdoğan. The ban on arms exports to Turkey has already been lifted. It was imposed when the Turkish army last invaded Kurdish Rojava in northern Syria. With Erdoğan now planning a new invasion, and already carrying out major bombing raids, the Swedish government is silent.

Arming the state

The NATO application gives new power to the hard core of the state: police, military and courts. Commander-in-chief Micael Bydén is allowed to stand unchallenged in all established media. Last Saturday on Swedish Radio, he announced that Sweden would take command of a Nordic part of NATO, with its own headquarters and Swedish command of the Baltic Sea. He is also campaigning for Swedish soldiers and fighter planes to be deployed in the Baltic States.

Cooperation with NATO — i.e. US imperialism — also means that Bydén will not say no to placing nuclear weapons in Sweden, without demanding an exemption from this, as NATO members Norway and Denmark have. He takes it for granted that the US will have soldiers and perhaps a permanent base in Sweden.

All parliamentary parties — including the Left Party — have voted in favour of a plan for Sweden’s military expenditure to reach 2% of GDP, which is NATO’s target. This is now to be achieved as early as 2026, not 2028 as had previously been decided. This means an increase from SEK 81 billion (7.5 billion euro) this year to around SEK 130 billion in four years’ time.

Today’s 70,000 personnel will increase to 90,000 by 2030 and 121,200 by 2035, including 50,000 conscripts. The military will be integrated with NATO and placed under NATO command. This applies not least to the Gripen JAS fighter jets and the fleet in the Baltic Sea, including new submarines. Sweden is to be an important part of Western imperialism. Eight rounds of arms have already been sent to Ukraine and more are promised.

But Micael Bydén is not satisfied with this, and is already talking about the need for more than two percent. Sweden’s military buildup is part of a general arms buildup in Europe. Germany is increasing its military spending by 100 billion euros and Poland is aiming to have Europe’s largest army.

More than for a very long time, a movement against militarism, imperialism and deportations is needed.

We Say

— No to NATO and militarisation!

— Stop the deportations!

— For a strong internationalist and solidarity left and workers’ movement. Against capitalism and imperialism, for democratic socialism.

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