A total of 74 press conferences will take place on Tuesday to launch the international campaign “Freedom for Öcalan, A Political Solution for Kurdistan”.
The central goal of the campaign is the release of imprisoned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, which is seen as a crucial step towards initiating a renewed peace process in Turkey and the wider region. But the immediate priority is to end Öcalan’s prolonged isolation, which has lasted for two and a half years.
The main press conferences will be held in prominent European cities, including Strasbourg, Paris, Vienna, Brussels and Berlin, with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg acting as the focal point for the global launch of the campaign.
Öcalan, a key figure in the Kurdish liberation movement and founder of the PKK, has been held in solitary confinement in Turkey’s İmralı island prison since 1999. In recent years, the isolation has become increasingly severe, raising international concern.
Öcalan has had no contact with the outside world, in violation of both Turkish and international law, for 31 months. His last meeting with his lawyers took place in August 2019, and his last communication with anyone outside the prison walls – a brief phone call with his brother – dates back to March 2021.
The campaign’s organisers stress the urgency of ending Öcalan’s incommunicado detention. “Mr Öcalan’s continued isolation poses a serious risk to his safety and well-being,” they say. “We urgently need to build international pressure to end this appalling isolation and we urge you to support this press conference and the launch of the new international campaign.”
The campaign’s activities will unite a wide range of participants, including elected officials, local governments, political parties and movements, trade unions, civil society organisations, intellectuals and concerned individuals.