Prominent philosopher Slavoj Žižek has publicly endorsed Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), marking the 25th anniversary of the “October 9 conspiracy”, a term used by Kurds to describe the events leading to Öcalan’s capture in 1999.
In his video message, Žižek outlined three key reasons to support Öcalan. First, he criticised authoritarian governments, including Turkey, for designating democratic opponents as terrorists in order to justify their own authoritarian actions. Second, he lauded the Kurds for their ability to organise society effectively when granted autonomous space, calling them “the most enlightened part” of the states they inhabit. Lastly, he praised Öcalan’s intellectual development during his time in prison, where he explored topics such as feminism, psychoanalysis, and modern theory.
Žižek concluded his message by emphasising that Öcalan is not just a symbol but an “actual person” who suffers unjustly. He advocated that “in fighting for him, we fight for us all”, highlighting the universal implications of Öcalan’s plight. “His struggle is my struggle,” he reiterated.
The philosopher’s public endorsement comes at a time when the Kurdish community and their allies are taking to the streets worldwide. Global campaign events launched on Tuesday aim to draw attention to Öcalan’s plight and the broader Kurdish question, advocating for a political resolution and the resumption of peace talks between the Turkish government and the PKK. Žižek’s message adds a significant voice to the growing chorus of academics, politicians, and human rights activists who believe that Öcalan’s inclusion in political dialogue is crucial for a lasting solution to the conflict.