An annual gathering in the Italian city of Brescia made a notable departure from tradition this year by dedicating a full day of events to the call for liberation of Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan, coupled with advocacy of the Kurds’ right to self-determination.
Thousands attended the event, entitled ‘Time of Hope’, jointly coordinated by Radio Onda d’urta and the Italian Kurdistan Information Office in the Buffolora suburb.
Contributors included renowned Italian cartoonist Zerocalcare, who showcased his graphic novel ‘No sleep till Shengal’, alongside journalist Chiara Cruciati and researcher Rojbin Beritan, who presented a book called ‘The lonely Mountain’. Both literary works highlighted the struggles of the Kurds, Yazidis, Assyrians, Arabs and Christians.
Zerocalcare delivered a speech highlighting the pressing issue of Öcalan’s incommunicado detention, stating it was “imperative to unite in solidarity with the Kurdish community fighting for the freedom of Öcalan”.
PKK leader Öcalan has been held under solitary confinement in Turkey’s high security prison island of İmralı since 1999. ‘Time of Hope’ organisers and participants expressed grave concern that authorities have failed to release information on Öcalan’s conditions of imprisonment or well-being for over two years.
The strict isolation measures imposed by the Turkish government have entirely cut off Öcalan’s means of communication with the outside world: the last semblance of contact was a brief phone call with his brother in 2021. A statement was released on the issue by the event organisers; “A time of hope. For Kurdish self-determination and freedom. For the liberation of Abdullah Öcalan and all political prisoners”.
Festivities were punctuated by a fervent punk rock concert headlined by Punkreas and Gli Ultimi (feat. Giancane), which aptly reinforced the themes of the day.