Thousands of people gathered at an extraordinary congress of the Istanbul branch of the People’s Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP) on Sunday to discuss pressing issues, with the main focus on the urgent need for the freedom of Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
🔴The Istanbul branch congress of the pro-Kurdish People's Party for Equality and Democracy has called for democratic republics to resolve the Kurdish and Palestinian questions.#HEDEP | #JinJiyanAzadi | #FreedomForOcalanhttps://t.co/sVADrEzDex pic.twitter.com/yOy7MOPLKq
— MedyaNews (@1MedyaNews) November 12, 2023
Öcalan has been imprisoned on İmralı Island for 25 years and the congress highlighted on the near 32 months of isolation he has endured with no communication with the outside world.
The congress, which was attended by representatives from various civil society organisations and political parties, also addressed the fight against environmental destruction and the struggle for women’s rights.
Women played a significant role in the event, with many participants wearing traditional dress and entering the congress venue chanting “jin, jiyan, azadî” (woman, life, freedom) accompanied by ululations. Members of the Peace Mothers Initiative and relatives of political prisoners turned out in large numbers.
Beser Çelik, co-chair of the Istanbul Provincial branch of HEDEP, gave a passionate speech in which she emphasised the just struggle for peace. Çelik remarked on the economic crisis that the people are facing due to the inability of the government to meet the basic needs of the society. She also suggested that both the Palestinian and Kurdish issues could be resolved through a ‘democratic republic’, drawing parallels between the two conflicts.
HEDEP Istanbul branch co-chair Murat Kalmaz outlined the party’s vision for the second century of the Republic, promising to be the voice of all communities, including Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians and Turks. Highlighting Turkey’s economic, political and social challenges, he said: “As HEDEP, we will respond to all issues. We do not accept the one state, one language mentality. We will build a policy against it, a policy for the community.”