People throughout North and East Syria staged protests on 15 February, the 22nd anniversary of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan’s imprisonment.
After a long journey from Syria to Italy to Russia to Greece seeking political asylum, Abdullah Öcalan was abducted and arrested on 15 February 1999 in Nairobi, Kenya and subsequently imprisoned in Imralı High Security Prison on Imralı Island in the Sea of Marmara in Turkey. Öcalan’s abduction and arrest led to massive protests by Kurdish demonstrators across Europe. Since then, 15 February has been marked as the anniversary of a “global plot” by millions of Kurds and many others on the strength of assessments and findings that many intelligence agencies and ‘deep political’ circles in Greece, the US and Russia had been involved in Abdullah Öcalan’s capture.
People protesting in the areas under the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, also known as Rojava, shared messsages of resistance against the ‘global plot’ and the 22 years of isolation imposed on Abdullah Öcalan.
Protests from Kobane to Manbij
A long march led by youth organisations in Kobane continued into its second day. “Leader Apo (Öcalan) is not only the leader of the Kurdish people, but he is the leader of the peoples of the Middle East. His philosophy is a source of struggle for the Arab women”, said women on the march.
Star Congress, a confederation of women’s organizations in Rojava, condemned the 15 February plot and issued press statements in several towns. “Keeping leader Öcalan as a hostage through an international plot is aimed at the annihilation of the Kurdish people and their struggle”, women chanted during demonstrations that were held in Shahba, Amuda and Aleppo. The women emphasized the right to struggle and the freedom of the women in Rojava.
Mesopotamia Democratic Culture and Art Movement and the Union of Artists in Jazira also read out their press statement during their protest that condemned the 15 February plot. A panel disussing how the 15 February abduction and plot was organized as a global plot was organized in Manbij, where a massive 15 February march was held on 13 February. The speakers on the panel organized by women’s organisations in Manbij stressed that the global plot that was set into motion will be defeated by the joint struggles of the peoples. Public tent protests have continued in Al Malikiyah city, where women have taken the lead in organising the protests. Many women have publicly condemned the 15 February plot.