In Geneva, Switzerland, ongoing protests outside the United Nations office have been spotlighting a singular demand since 25 January 2021: the liberation of Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). This week, the demonstration, under the banner ‘Dem dema azadiyê ye’ (Time for Freedom), also decried Turkey’s military actions in North and East Syria and launched the ‘100 Thousand Cards for İmralı’ campaign, calling for Öcalan’s release.
Mustafa Altunbaş, representing the protest committee, highlighted the severe isolation faced by Öcalan in prison. Altunbaş claimed this isolation has escalated to torture in the last three years. He also condemned recent attacks by Turkey in North and East Syria and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Erbil (Hewlêr), linking them to Öcalan’s ongoing detention.
Altunbaş drew attention to the current hunger strikes in Turkish prisons, stressing that Öcalan’s release is the key to unlocking peace and prosperity in the Middle East.
Tubam Yılmaz, co-president of the Geneva Democratic Kurdish Community Centre (CDK-Ge), also spoke, focusing on the hunger strikes.
The event saw participation from international delegates, notably Libyan human rights advocates attending UN meetings in Geneva, who joined the campaign.
Ali Alaspli, a journalist and the director of Libya Crimes Watch, emphasised the importance of supporting Öcalan’s freedom. Alaspli committed to participating in and promoting the campaign. Tunisian human rights advocate Maksaut Attı also supported the initiative, advocating for the freedom of the Kurdish people.