On occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on 25 November, Medya News presents excerpts from Abdullah Öcalan’s notes and speeches that he has shared with his lawyers during their visits to Imralı Prison on different occasions, regarding women’s freedom.
Abdullah Öcalan, the founder and leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK, has been imprisoned in a high security prison complex on Imralı Island, Turkey since February 1999.
In his writings, Öcalan suggests that the transition from the Sumerian myth to the monotheistic religions led to the birth of patriarchy, which have taken the male as the dominant and central figure, enslaving women as figures of “disgrace” and “sin”.
In a message he sent to women in 2006 Öcalan says: “Women need to concentrate on deepening the ideology of women’s salvation, they should be an ideological power. Women, under any circumstances, need to maintain their independence. They have many roads to walk against men that they should not put so much trust in men.
“One shall not be afraid of women’s freedom. This is how I define my comradeship with women. This is such a glorious comradeship, a strong friendship between me and women. This is how I pay back to the labours of women comrades.”
“The most important thing I want them to know is the truth and that they need to be strong enough to determine the fate of war and peace. I define my self as a labourer for love. I live for you. Your longings are my reason to live, I am with you. 21. century’s ideology is women’s freedom. Salvation lies in freedom. There is a free life to be won, a free world to be won.”
In a rare meeting with his lawyers in 2007 in Imralı Prison, Öcalan summarises the core of his approach to the question of women’s freedom, saying, “To me, women’s freedom ranks above the freedom of the country”,
He goes on explaining the hegemonic sexuality in its relation to power:
“The present sexuality is nothing but power; it is the rearing manhood. It has even turned the men into its violent form today. The present sexual relations serve the patriarchal society and it has created the vulgar, the bestialising and destructive understanding of power.”
Defining femicides being the only reality “worse than war”, Öcalan says: “Tens of women are killed every day. These murders are worse than a war. This is an issue related to the security of a country. Women cannot be murdered so viciously. But, almost held by chains from four corners, women are enslaved. Without breaking these chains, we cannot be socialists, we cannot make politics. A revolution incapable of liberating women is not a revolution.”
In a meeting with his lawyers in 2010, Öcalan warns women against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as follows:
“The AKP is a grave danger to women, too. Women might hanker for the crumbs of the freedom they have today. Look at Adıyaman, where the Menzil cult, a cult that buries young girls under the ground live and is so massively organised; this mentality is as dangerous as the mentality that stones women to death. Here is the mentality of the AKP.”
When in 2013 the negotiations between the PKK and the Turkish government were launched, Öcalan made it very clear that he would not sit around any table, from which women were excluded.
In a 2013 letter he wrote for the 8 March of that year Öcalan says: “Erdoğan imposes upon women to have early marriages and three children, he says all this by a conscious choice. I say what I say also by a conscious choice.”
“Women’s freedom is the number one item on the agenda I proposed for a democratic solution. They do not see the point in this. They tell me, ‘What does it have to do with a democratic solution?’. I say clearly. Women’s freedom is directly linked to the democratic solution, this is clear.”
“I have said many times, in such a country where this many women are killed, I cannot be a member of this state. The solution shall only come along with women’s laws for equality and freedom. Women’s law – freedom’s law, is essential to me.”