Kurdish and pro-Kurdish NGOs and political parties are calling for continuous mass action against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) founding leader Abdullah Öcalan being held in the purpose-built İmralı Island Prison in an incommunicado state for 31 months.
Democratic Society Congress (DTK), Democratic Regions Party (DBP), Free Women’s Movement (TJA), MED Federation of Solidarity Association for Families of Prisoners (MED TUHAD-FED) will hold a rally on 9 October in Diyarbakır (Amed), the largest Kurdish-majority city in Turkey.
The date marks the 25th anniversary of what Kurdish organisations call the international plot against Öcalan, when he was forced to leave his headquarters in Syria. Turkey’s top wanted person at the time, the PKK leader went to Athens first, only to leave for Moscow the same day. Following a period of back-and-forth among Greece, Russia and Italy, Öcalan finally travelled to Kenya, where he was captured in a Turkish army operation on 15 February 1999.
DTK Co-chair Berdan Öztürk, in a press conference to announce the 9 October protests, said Turkey installed a “personalised regime of unlawfulness” for Öcalan, and that the “conspiracy” aimed to destroy the fight for democracy and freedom in Turkey and the wider region.
Öcalan’s incommunicado state continues despite Turkey’s domestic laws, and goes against universal norms, Öztürk continued as he read the joint statement by the four major organisations.
The PKK leader has been unable to communicate with his lawyers since 2019, and the last contact with his family was an interrupted phone call with his brother in 2021. Since then, Öcalan has had no contact whatsoever with the outside world.
“This inhuman state of absolute isolation cannot be excused,” Öztürk said. “It causes worry among Kurds and the peoples of the Middle East, which in turn transforms into rage.”
“Because of this isolation, Turkey’s biggest issue, the Kurdish issue, remains unresolved, as do the deepest problems in the Middle East. Peoples are robbed of their hope for coexistence.”
Turkey’s ever-deepening economic woes are also tied to the isolation regime, Öztürk continued. “Those who dedicate the budget to war to maintain the isolation are the ones responsible for the poverty in the country.”
“In the person of Mr Öcalan, the peoples of the Middle East are condemned to a life of isolation, and subjected to intense discrimination and polarisation,” he said. “As the isolation deepens, the right to freedom for Kurds and to democracy for other peoples of Turkey are increasingly usurped. Thus, the fight against this isolation is also a fight towards freedom and democracy.”
The end of Öcalan’s incommunicado state will also allow for renewed efforts to achieve peace through dialogue, the co-chair said. “Our fundamental goal is to break the isolation, to achieve free living and working conditions for Mr Öcalan, and allow a chance for a free and equal life to flourish.”
Protests will continue after the 9 October rally in Diyarbakır, until Öcalan is free, he said.