The international campaign “Freedom for Öcalan, A Political Solution for Kurdistan” has kicked off on Tuesday. The campaign aims to advocate for jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan’s right to meet with his lawyers and family, and ultimately to secure his release under conditions that would enable him to contribute to the pursuit of a just and democratic political solution to the long-standing Kurdish conflict in Turkey.
Medya News will share the press statements. Stay tuned.
The campaign demanding the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan and a peaceful solution to the Kurdish conflict in Turkey continues with press releases from 74 centres worldwide.
As part of an international campaign for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan and aimed to address the Kurdish question, a gathering took place at PLAC (Participatory Ljubljana Autonomous Zone) in Ljubljana featuring notable speakers such as Dr. Rastko Močnik, a renowned sociologist, Matjaž Hanžek, a former MP and Slovenian ombudsman, and Dr. Andrej Kurnik, a Political Science Professor at Ljubljana University. The speakers collectively argued that Öcalan was not just a prisoner of Turkey but also a captive of capitalist modernity, patriarchy, and the international state system. They stressed that the “Imrali island prison system”, where Öcalan was held, was specifically designed to isolate him and, by extension, the Kurdish people. The speakers also highlighted the urgent need for a political solution and called for greater responsibility from European politicians in addressing the systematic discrimination against the Kurds.
In a video interview, Dimitrios Roussopoulos, founder of Black Rose publishing house and political activist, emphasised the critical role Abdullah Öcalan plays not just in the Kurdish Freedom Movement but also as a significant political and philosophical thinker. He stated that any resolution to the crisis within Turkey and its borders must involve direct talks with Öcalan, treating him as a free individual. Roussopoulos praised Öcalan’s concept of Democratic Confederalism as a ‘magnificent theory’ for horizontal social organisation. He expressed frustration and sadness over Öcalan’s ongoing imprisonment under harsh conditions and called for international efforts to free him. Roussopoulos underlined that breaking the stalemate surrounding Öcalan’s imprisonment is crucial for positive change, urging Western institutions to recognise this.
Amanda Verrone, representative of the Basque feminist movement “Bilboko Mugimendu Feminista,” voiced her concerns about the ongoing plight of the Kurdish people and their leader, Abdullah Öcalan. She criticised Turkey’s denial of basic civil and political rights to the Kurdish population, leading to political instability, loss of lives, and the displacement of millions. Verrone also pointed out the role of international powers like the United States and NATO members in supporting Turkey’s actions against the Kurds. She emphasised that the situation is urgent and unsustainable, calling for immediate attention from the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, which she accuses of systematically ignoring Öcalan’s case. The Basque trade union Lab joins her in demanding a political solution for the Kurdish cause and the release of Öcalan.
In a heartfelt video message, Patricia Gregorini, the mother of late YPJ internationalist Alina Sánchez, urgently called for the release of Abdullah Öcalan. Gregorini highlighted the inhumane conditions under which Öcalan has been held, isolated from his family and legal team since 2019. She expressed disbelief that such treatment could continue in this day and age, particularly under the scrutiny of the European Union. Gregorini’s message adds a poignant voice to the growing international call for Öcalan’s release, and she hopes that her video will galvanize action towards improving his conditions.
Dimitris Spyropoulos, a PhD candidate at the Political Sciences Department of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, spoke at an event in Thessaloniki about the Kurdish and Palestinian peoples as symbols of resistance and struggle in modern history. He emphasised that Abdullah Öcalan is seen by millions of Kurds as their political representative and a catalyst for resolving the Kurdish question. Spyropoulos pointed out that the Turkish state’s imprisonment of Öcalan for 24 years in extreme isolation is a clear message against Kurdish self-determination. He also highlighted Öcalan’s writings from as early as 2003, which show his aversion to violence and focus on direct democracy, pluralism, women’s liberation, and ecology as the goals of the Kurdish movement.
In a significant show of international solidarity, Australia has joined the global campaign for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan and a political solution to the Kurdish question. The campaign received support in Sydney, where a press conference was attended by a diverse group of parliamentarians and civil society organisations. The campaign called for an immediate end to the isolation imposed on Öcalan and for his release as a crucial step towards resolving the Kurdish issue. Notable attendees included former Green Party Senator Lee Rhiannon, Green Party parliamentarians Abigail Boyd and Kobi Shetty, Mayor Philippa Veitch from the Greens, religious scholar Bill Crews, Labour Party parliamentarians Charishma Kaliyanda and Nathan Hagarty, as well as Socialist Alliance members Susan Price and Rachel Evans.
Dr. Vicki Sentas, a faculty member at the Faculty of Law and Justice at UNSW Sydney, issued a video message marking the 25th anniversary of the abduction and political imprisonment of Abdullah Öcalan. Dr. Sentas emphasised that Öcalan’s ongoing imprisonment under extreme and unlawful conditions is a violation of both Turkish and international law. She stressed that Öcalan’s release is essential for a just and democratic resolution to Turkey’s decades-old Kurdish conflict. Dr. Sentas also highlighted the importance of Öcalan’s prison writings, which have been instrumental in shaping Kurdish political claims and fostering grassroots democracy. She concluded by calling on the international community to reconsider the listing of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) as a terrorist organisation, stating that this remains a significant barrier to resolving the conflict.
Brussels saw a gathering in front of the European Parliament, where participants chanted slogans and criticised the EU’s silence on Turkey’s aggression in northeastern Syria, known as Rojava to Kurds.
Daniel Richard, the Regional Interprofessional Secretary of FGTB Verviers-Ostbelgien, expressed his support for the campaign advocating for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan. Drawing a parallel with Nelson Mandela’s release leading to the end of apartheid, Richard argued that peace in the Kurdistan region would similarly require negotiations involving Öcalan. He also extended his solidarity to the people of North and East Syria, who were allies in the fight against ISIS and are now subject to regular attacks targeting civilians, calling such actions “totally unacceptable.”
Mick Nugent, a Sinn Féin councillor in Cork city, expressed his party’s support for the Kurdish cause and the freedom campaign for Abdullah Öcalan. Drawing on Ireland’s own experiences with conflict resolution, Nugent stressed that meaningful negotiations and peace talks are the only way to resolve conflicts. He pointed out that since Öcalan is a pivotal figure in the Kurdish liberation movement, his freedom is crucial for any peace talks to occur. Accordingly, Sinn Féin joins the call for Öcalan’s freedom.
Dr. Jason Dockstader, a philosophy lecturer at University College Cork in Ireland, also gave a speech in support of the freedom campaign for Abdullah Öcalan. In his address, Dockstader elucidated why Öcalan’s vision of direct democracy and self-governance poses a significant challenge to the Turkish state’s centralised and authoritarian system. He emphasised that the democratic confederalism practiced in AANES is not only a viable alternative but also a direct threat to Erdogan’s regime.
In Lausanne, a press conference took place in front of the Place Rippone building, moderated by historian Mathieu Jaccard. The event featured speakers from various political parties, including Jean Tschopp of the Socialist Party, Ilias Panchard of the Green Party, and David Payot, Deputy Mayor of Lausanne. The focus was on solidarity with Rojava and the ongoing human rights abuses in the region. Ilias Panchard highlighted that 72 different locations in Rojava had been attacked in the last three days, including hospitals and civilian infrastructure. He criticised Turkey’s President Erdoğan for his opposition to democratic, feminist, and ecological models, stating that Erdoğan fears these as political threats. The speakers also questioned the long-term imprisonment of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan and called for a political solution to the Kurdish issue. They condemned Turkey’s geopolitical role, including its support for entities like Hamas and the Islamic State.
South African activists vow to fight for the release of “Comrade Abdullah Öcalan and all political prisoners,” emphasising that “One can incarcerate a person, but one can never incarcerate an idea.”
South African scholar and activist Farid Esack sent a poignant message endorsing the campaign. Known for his work in the liberation struggle and the Palestinian solidarity movement, Esack emphasized the need for genuine solidarity that transcends national borders. “Real solidarity extends to wherever we see people living under occupation, oppression, whether it is cultural genocide, people denied the use of their own language, their own culture,” he said. Esack noted that while there is a significant affinity for the Kurdish people in South Africa, this has yet to translate into concrete support from the post-1994 government led by the African National Congress.
Political leaders from various French parties convened in Reims to demand an end to the isolation of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan. The event criticised European institutions for their silence on human rights abuses. “This silence is equivalent to complicity in the ongoing human rights abuses,” said Michel Georges of La France Insoumise. The leaders also condemned Turkey’s attacks on Rojava.
“Isolation in İmralı prison is torture”
“Turkey’s attacks on North and East Syria target forces fighting against ISIS”
In Strasbourg, the cancellation of a planned campaign rally advocating for the release of Abdullah Öcalan and a political resolution to the Kurdish question drew criticism. Despite the setback, Kurdish activists and MEPs swiftly reorganised to make their voices heard at two alternative locations. Among the MEPs who spoke was Jeremy Corbyn from the UK, who emphasised the crucial role of Öcalan in achieving peace. Corbyn stated, “Öcalan is now in prison for a very long time. No access has been granted to anyone, his family, his legal team, for two and a half years. What we are saying is, we want to bring an end to violence, an end to fighting. Releasing Öcalan is part of that process so he can make that positive contribution to bring back peace… This is the Council of Europe. This is the place that is the guardian of human rights across Europe and the home of the European Court of Human Rights. Don’t ban demonstrations, don’t stop legitimate legal process. This would be the place where that is safe.”
Frédéric Mathieu, a member of La France Insoumise and a Deputy in the French National Assembly, has also voiced his strong support on Tuesday for the release of Abdullah Öcalan: “As the legitimate representative of the Kurdish people, Abdullah Öcalan has been detained for 24 years and in complete isolation for 2.5 years. His release is imperative for finding a political solution for Kurdistan and for the entire Middle East. Erdogan’s regime must yield.”
Raul Diaz, a representative from the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) in the Philippines, also took the stage at the Strasbourg event to express solidarity with the Kurdish people. Diaz emphasised that they uphold the right of the Kurdish people to self-determination, free from exploitation and discrimination. He highlighted the need for a political solution to the Kurdish issue, which spans across Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq. Diaz also called attention to the historical injustice inflicted upon the Kurdish nation by European powers after World War I, urging that now is the time to correct this. He cited the United Nations Charter, which mandates member states to develop friendly relations based on equal rights and self-determination, as a foundation for universal peace.
In Norway, a diverse group of speakers, including Pia Maria Roll, an actor-theater director, and scriptwriter, and Erling Folkvord, a journalist and author, joined forces to call for an end to the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan. They emphasized the urgent need for Öcalan to be granted visitation rights by his family and legal team, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Mandela Rules. “It’s time to release this hero and fighter for human rights so he can see his family,” said Sofia Rana from the Party Red. Participants argued that the resolution of the Kurdish question in Turkey is intrinsically tied to Öcalan’s fate. They view him as a pivotal figure for peace and democratisation in the Middle East. The Red Party also voiced its support for the day’s mobilisation, demanding an immediate end to Öcalan’s isolation.
Today in Frankfurt, Germany, as in many other cities around the world, a press conference was organised by supporters of the Kurdish movement demanding the release of the imprisoned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan.
Spokespersons for the Internationalist Youth Movement and the Defend Kurdistan Initiative drew attention to the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan, who has been imprisoned for 25 years and has been held in absolute isolation for more than 31 months.
“Öcalan is prevented from being the solution to the Kurdish problem. The only actor for the solution of the Kurdish conflict is Öcalan, and the isolation is an intensification of the attacks on the Kurdish people”.
At a press conference in Hamburg, various speakers including Norman Paech, Ute Ruß, Thomas Gedik, Theda Ohling, Alexander Hoffmann, and Annett Bender called for a solution to the Kurdish question through dialogue with Abdullah Öcalan. Annett Bender, from the feminist organisation “Gemeinsam Kämpfen,” shared her recent experiences in Rojava, highlighting the incredible progress women have made in self-governance since their liberation from the Syrian regime. She emphasised that the unique project of women’s liberation in North and East Syria is directly based on Öcalan’s ideas. Bender stated that their organisation stands firmly behind Öcalan and calls for his freedom, as his ideas propose building a society based on women’s liberation, ecological sustainability, grassroots democracy, and diversity.
Timor-Leste (East Timor)
Solidarity action as part of the international campaign for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan from Timor-Leste (East Timor):
Press statements are being held in 15 Italian cities today within the scope of the “Freedom for Öcalan, A Political Solution for Kurdistan” campaign. At a press conference in Rome, Italy, Arturo Salerni spoke about the possibility of Öcalan being officially granted political asylum in Italy, and remarked that his isolation is a violation of human rights.
Fabrizio De Sanctis, General Secretary of the Italian Partisans National Union (ANPI) in Rome, has strongly condemned the ongoing isolation of Abdullah Öcalan as a violation of international laws and a form of torture. De Sanctis emphasised that Öcalan is seen by millions of Kurds as their leader, advocating for their independence and autonomy. He criticised the Turkish government’s refusal to allow Öcalan any form of communication, even with his legal team or family. De Sanctis also highlighted Italy’s specific responsibility in this issue, as Öcalan was in Italy awaiting a trial to be recognised as a political refugee when he was kidnapped. He called for immediate action from Italy and the European Union, describing the silence on this issue as intolerable.
Milan’s press statement emphasised the importance of Öcalan’s release.
In Bologna, a diverse group of political and social leaders gathered to address pressing issues. Speakers included representatives from Associazione Ya Basta Bologna (Làbas-TPO), Rete Jin Bologna, and Circolo Anarchico Berneri. Notable attendees also featured Emily Marion Clancy, Vice Mayor of Comune di Bologna; Michele Bulgarelli, Secretary of CGIL Bologna; Mauro Collina, Secretary of PRC Bologna; and Detjon Begaj, leader of Coalizione Civica Bologna.
In a video message, Massimiliano Voza, the former mayor of Santomenna in Salerno, Italy, passionately spoke about the plight of the Kurdish people and the urgent need for the release of Abdullah Öcalan, the Kurdish leader currently imprisoned in Turkey. Voza, who is also the coordinator of the medical team of the CGIL FP, recounted his own experience of being arrested in Turkey for providing medical aid to Kurdish refugees in Northern Syria. He emphasised that Öcalan’s release is crucial for peace not only in Turkey but also in Syria and the broader Middle East. “It is evident, as Mandela was for South Africa, that only the recognised political leader can move the peace process forward,” he stated. Voza also highlighted the inhumane and illegal conditions of Öcalan’s imprisonment, noting that he has been in solitary confinement for three years, cut off from his lawyers and family. “This condition is not only inhumane; it is illegal under international law and even under Turkish law,” he added.
Bangladesh Garment Workers Union joined the international campaign. Nazma Akter, president of the union, ended her speech with the slogan “Freedom for Öcalan Now”.
Within the scope of the campaign a total of 74 press conferences will take place. 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.