Twenty-five years ago today, Abdullah Öcalan was forced to leave Syria and embark on the quest for asylum that would end in his abduction to Turkey by an international plot led by the CIA. A lot has happened in those years, but a lot has remained sadly unchanged.
The last thing that the plotters expected was that, twenty-five years on, Öcalan would have more supporters now than ever before, and not only among Kurds. Nor could they have envisaged that five million people would be living in Syria in an autonomous society inspired by his philosophy. But Turkey’s oppression of the Kurdish struggle has not lifted, and Turkey can still rely on international support. In recent years, the conditions of Öcalan’s incarceration have only got more extreme, and for thirty months he has been forbidden contact with anyone outside the prison.
As a leader recognised by millions of Kurds, Öcalan holds the key to a peaceful settlement between Turkey and its Kurdish citizens. But the Turkish Government doesn’t want peace. Rallying against the Kurds wins populist support and has become a useful substitute for addressing Turkey’s severe economic and social problems. Turkey would have us believe that Öcalan is held in prison because he presents a danger of violence. In fact, he presents the possibility of peace, and it is peace that the Turkish Government is truly afraid of. Meanwhile, international politicians who love to demonstrate their support for Nelson Mandela’s peace-making, mostly look away. A new campaign will be launched tomorrow, in Strasbourg and around the world, to bring attention to this international failure.
‘Freedom for Ocalan – A Political Solution to the Kurdish Question’ campaign unites social movements, political parties, municipalities, unions, activists, intellectuals, and millions of Kurds and their friends worldwide around a shared goal: making a just and democratic political solution to Turkey’s century-old Kurdish question possible by enabling Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan’s participation in a renewed dialogue.
In Öcalan’s last conversation with his lawyers, which occurred in 2019, he said that he could solve the Kurdish question in a week if given the chance – and that he had developed his ideas for a political solution to the Kurdish question even further since the Turkish government last abandoned peace talks. As Turkey expands its occupation of Iraqi Kurdistan and North and East Syria and its crackdown on dissent at home and abroad, a political solution is needed more than ever.
We are also more concerned about Öcalan’s security and well-being than ever before. Isolation is internationally recognized as a form of torture. For this form of torture to go on for so long is extremely dangerous. We do not know anything about Öcalan’s fate beyond the fact that he has recently received ‘disciplinary measures’ to block meetings on false pretences, and has allegedly been sent death threats.
This situation is unsustainable.
The campaign makes make the following demand:
Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan must be allowed to meet with his lawyers and family and, ultimately, freed under conditions that allow him to play a role in finding a just and democratic political solution to Turkey’s decades-old Kurdish conflict.
The campaign has published a dossier about Ocalan’s situation. You can download a copy here: