Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has been incarcerated in severe solitary confinement in Turkey since his abduction in Kenya by the intelligence agencies of Turkey and the United States on 15 February 1999.
There has been no word from him at all since 25 March 2021, when he had a telephone conversation with his brother Mehmet Öcalan for a few minutes, before being abruptly cut off.
The last time Öcalan’s lawyers were able to make contact with him was in August 2019.
We are publishing Öcalan’s letter to the ECHR, written in December 2010 and translated by Medyanews into English for the first time, in three parts.
On my prison life on İmralı Island – Part 3
Other than physical causes paving the way for health problems, there is nothing unbearable for me about my life in İmralı. My morale, consciousness and willpower have not declined, on the contrary, they are more refined than before, nurtured with aesthetics, and enriched by way of beautiful development. As I gradually develop explanations of societal truths by way of science, philosophy and aesthetics, possibilities for a more correct, better and more beautiful life also increase. I would rather stay in my cell alone until my last breath than live with people led astray, away from the path of truth, by capitalist modernity.
One question in the minds of our people connected to my life in İmralı relates to where and how I would live if I got out of prison. I am not one prone to illusions. It should be well-known that my lifestyle is that known as revolutionary realism. Such questions are better answered by looking not at my life after a possible release but at my whole life story from childhood onwards.
My first ‘rebellions’, against family authority when I was below the age of 10, carry important clues in this matter. I was a lone rebel even back then. I tried to express my objections to the rural and urban communities in places in my defence. Anyone who is interested can find the necessary questions and answers together there. In short, for me, life is possible only if it is lived freely. I have tried to explain what a free life means as the foundation of my most recent five-volume defence. A life that is not ethical, just and political is a life that from the point of view of communality should not be lived.
Through the monopolies of ideological oppression and exploitation they cause, civilisation in general and capitalist modernity in particular render it possible to live and ensure acceptance of living the wrong kind of life, riddled with all types of slavery, demagoguery and individualism, and full of many lies. This is how developments identified as societal problems emerge. Whether we call them socialist, pro-freedom, democratic or communist, all those who believe themselves to be revolutionaries must object to and oppose civilisations based on oppression and exploitation by elite class, the city and power, and the dominant lifestyles of modern times. Otherwise, a just, free, democratic and communal lifestyle cannot become reality, and thus cannot be lived – any life thus lived would be full of lies, deceit, wrongdoing and ugliness. This is called a wrongful lifestyle with no proper basis. The great efforts I have made throughout my life in the rejection of this lifestyle, that was an issue or that I have made an issue, is well understood. Where it is not, neither my character nor myself as the Leadership, can be comprehended. Those who wish to join my character or myself as the Leadership and benefit from them without comprehending them could suffer great disillusionment. Displaying correct comprehension and participation is not an individual but a societal matter.
Another popular question is on a lifestyle with women. I have written on how to live together with women from place to place in all the volumes. Living with women is particularly significant under conditions of modernity. This is not a matter to be resolved by asking for, seeking out and deceiving girls, whether in brothels or in private homes, or living together them with or without children. To resolve this issue that occupies pride of place in the heart and mind of societal issues, the approach must be scientific, philosophical, ethical and aesthetic. In the era in which we live, under capitalist modernity conditions, an equal, free life together with women is a life that requires great responsibility and a strong approach based on science, philosophy, ethics and aesthetics. Without knowing the status imposed on women throughout the history of civilisation and in the modern era, without an ethical and aesthetic approach, attempts at any kind of life together will result in wrongdoing, immorality and ugliness.
To avoid wasting life, it is imperative to prioritise the realisation of the right, moral and aesthetic forms of life together with women. Analysing the character of women, over which all types of enslavement have been tried and imposed, and making women comrades and life-partners in the cause for freedom and equality are fundamental conditions for becoming right, moral and beautiful men as well.
The reasons why I value this type of lifestyle and consider it to be a matter of principle will be better understood if the words in my defence are read correctly. A lifestyle based on the primitive sexist ‘domination’ over women (as a form of relationship where even biological sexuality is degenerated), imposed by the power-centric ethics of civilisation of modernity, creates great immorality and ugliness. If in time my great war against this and its outcomes are correctly understood, life will be lived with better morals and beauty together with women. Every man and woman who takes a share of the responsibility for this, and in particular for women to be empowered and liberated and achieve equality in all areas of social life, must develop and organise scientific, philosophical, ethical and aesthetic approaches and practices constantly, and encourage revitalisation of the mindset and institutions of the democratic nation.
Whether inside or outside prison, in a mother’s womb or in any moment in time and space, only communally can human life be lived freely, equally (with diversity) and democratically. Any lifestyle outside of this is deviant, and thus unhealthy. This deviance is fought with various societal narratives and actions including revolution, to bring it back to the right way and make it healthy. To this end, a mindset and will that are ethical, aesthetic, philosophical and scientific are formed.
So, wherever and whenever I may be when a possibility of release arises, it is only natural that I will be in constant struggle to the end with whatever discourse and style of action is necessary, for the communality I strive to be part of, for Kurds who suffer the most tragic reality of this, for their attainment of the democratic nationhood that is their path to a solution and emancipation, for the Union of Democratic Nations that is the path to a solution and emancipation for all peoples of the Middle East starting with their neighbours, and for the Union of Democratic Nations that is the path to a solution and emancipation for all peoples of the world of which they are a part. I will march on with my character of truth, that I have won in great measure through the ethical, aesthetic, philosophical and scientific force rendered necessary by this, I will win life, and I will share it with all.
21 December 2010
Convict in solitary confinement at İmralı F-Type Prison
To the Presidency
European Court of Human Rights,
First part of Abdulah Öcalan’s letter to the ECHR
Second part of Abdulah Öcalan’s letter to the ECHR