One of South Africa’s most important anti-apartheid leaders, Archbishop Desmond Tutu passed away on Sunday at the age of 90.
Tutu’s death has caused grief not just in South Africa, where a week of events will be held to mark the passing of the great anti-apartheid hero, but all around the world, as tributes have been pouring in from politicians everywhere.
Turkey’s leading pro-Kurdish party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on Monday issued a written statement paying tribute to Tutu.
“He responded to the Kurdish struggle for freedom and peace with all kinds of support, which he offered wth his graceful humility,” the HDP said.
The HDP stated: “We will keep Desmond Tutu alive in our memory and our struggle as a historical figure and a valuable friend, who stood by the marginalised against the cruel, not only with his words but also with his actions. As we reaffirm our commitment to Desmond Tutu’s ideals of freedom, justice and peace, we extend our condolences to all his friends and to the people of South Africa.”
“Desmond Tutu will live on not only in his homeland of South Africa, but also in the hearts of all the oppressed of this world who struggle against discrimination,” Ertuğrul Kürkçü, the honorary chair of the HDP, said in a post on his Twitter account.
“Desmond Tutu fought against racism and discrimination, he was a friend of the Kurdish people and all oppressed peoples. He left us with the healing, restorative and reconciling power to face the truth. My condolences to South Africa and all oppressed peoples,” Ebru Günay, HDP’s spokeswoman said on Twitter.
A Nobel Peace Prize winner known for his struggle against the apartheid regime in his country, Archbishop Desmond Tutu was hailed as “the conscience of South Africa”.
Tutu defended the gay community against the authoritarian state, he also defended the right to termination of pregnancy and to euthanasia, and of course he played an essential role in the downfall of the apartheid regime in South Africa.
Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his peaceful struggle against the apartheid regime. He was saluted by the Nobel Committee “for his clear views and his fearless stance, which made him a unifying symbol for all African freedom fighters. Attention was once again directed at the non-violent path to liberation.”
In the same year, he became the first black Anglican bishop of Johannesburg, and he was elected archbishop of Cape Town in 1985, making him head of the Anglican Church in South Africa.
For around ten years, Tutu led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was set up in 1996 in order to combat impunity, recreate a culture of accountability, uncover the truth about gross human rights violations committed during the apartheid regime, and assist families of the victims in getting closure.
Tutu was also known for his support for the struggle of the Kurdish people. He announced the foundation of the International Peace Initiative in November 2012 for the Resumption of Dialogue for a solution to the Kurdish Question. The first signatories to the initiative under Tutu included names like the spiritual leader of Tibet the Dalai Lama, Sinn Fein’s leader Gerry Adams and former US president Jimmy Carter.
Tutu took his place alongside the Kurds when Kobani (Kobanê), a city on the Turkish border in northeast Syria, was attacked by ISIS in 2014-15, and he also attended the Kurdish conferences held at the European Parliament. He took a leading role in these conferences, and also in the International Tribunal in which Turkey was tried in 2018.
As a significant actor in the international Freedom for Öcalan Campaign, Tutu was one of the best-known names in the international struggle for the release of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party leader Abdullah Öcalan.
In 2019 Tutu was one of 50 Nobel Prize winners who called for the lifting of the conditions of isolation imposed in İmralı Prison, where Öcalan has been imprisoned since 1999, and most recently, he put his signature to a letter sent to Öcalan on behalf of the Kurdistan Peace Campaign in April 2021.