The usual: Â when caught, play stoopid. Note that “their shock and disbelief” is more important Â to Rachel Carbonell than why the police launched the raids against them. Â But if you read down to the end of this article you get an idea about why they feel so wronged…..
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) carried out raids across the city’s north and south-east, as part of an investigation into the funding of terrorism.
By Rachel Carbonell/ABC News (thanks to Mullah)
The police seized documents from the headquarters of the Kurdish Association of Victoria at Pascoe Vale in Melbourne’s north.
Raids were also conducted in Sydney and Perth.
The AFP says the raids relate to an investigation into allegations of financing a terrorist organisation.
- Video: Kurdish community baffled by raids (7pm TV News NSW)
- Audio: Melbourne Kurdish Community targeted in anti-terror raids (PM)
- Related Story: Kurdish link in Melbourne anti-terror raids
But members of the Kurdish Association of Victoria say they are simply a social meeting place where cultural, language and dancing lessons take place.
Community member Gulay Baykal says the raids were a complete shock.
“I didn’t have any idea, because we were not expecting that,” he said.
“It never came to my thought that this would happen.
“This is a community organisation. We’re trying to respond to the social and cultural needs of the Kurdish community here.”
The association has previously raised concerns it would be unfairly linked to the Turkey-based terrorist group, the Kurdistan Workers Party, also known as the PKK.
Professor Greg Barton from the school of political and social inquiry at Melbourne’s Monash University says the PKK is now a fairly small organisation of about 5,000.
He says it is based largely in mountainous areas of Iraq and has a history of violence and suicide bombings.
“It’s in a sense a very, very small group, claiming to represent a very large minority,” he said.
“The vast majority of all Kurds have no sympathy with this group and no trust of it because it’s using terrorists’ methods to be able to leverage its impact well beyond its small size.”
Professor Barton says while the PKK is not the only Kurdish terrorist organisation, it is the most likely one to be the subject of an investigation.
“As often happens with these sort of conflicts, over time one group assumes dominance over all other groups,” he said.
Professor Barton says it is important for international law enforcement to target international terrorist financing.
But the director of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, Greg Barns, says the enforcement of anti-terrorism laws can raise some tricky issues of justice for people living far from their home countries.
“One of the difficulties with this area of the law is that it can mean that people who have given money or other forms of aid to organisations overseas for the most humanitarian of motives could suddenly find themselves and their acts being criminalised,” he said.
“If these laws had been around in the 1970s and 80s anyone who gave money to Nelson Mandela’s ANC or the IRA or Fretilin in East Timor would now be criminalised under the anti-terror laws.”