Hundreds of Kurds and their supporters marched in Geneva on Wednesday demanding freedom for Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, marking the third anniversary of an ongoing sit-in for the cause outside the Swiss city’s United Nations (UN) office.
The sit-in coincides with a rotational hunger strike initiated on 27 November by Kurdish political prisoners in Turkey demanding release of the imprisoned Kurdish leader, part of a global campaign, “Freedom for Öcalan, A Political Solution for Kurdistan”.
Participants issued a statement before setting off on the march, gathered in heavy rain at Palais Wilson Square, home to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Selma Sürer, co-president of the Democratic Kurdish Council of Switzerland (CDK-S) and representative of the campaign’s Swiss committee, emphasised the need to secure Öcalan’s release.
“Regardless of the challenges, we have to secure the freedom of our leader this year. We will continue with this campaign until our leader is released, no matter what happens,” she said.
When the march reached the Nations Square to join the sit-in, politician Mehmet Aslan then spoke on behalf of the Kurdistan Communities Union – Europe (KCDK-E).
Acknowledging the hunger strike protests in Turkish prisons, Aslan underlined the urgent need for Öcalan’s release. He called on the UN and world states to recognise the rights of the Kurdish people and actively work for their freedom, emphasising the global significance of the Kurdish resistance against the spread of the Islamic State (ISIS).