Rallies have been organised in many places in Europe with protestors chanting in favour of Abdullah Öcalan’s release on Sunday, the 24th anniversary of what the Kurdish political movement calls “the day of international conspiracy”.
Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), was forced to leave Syria on 9 October 1998, after Turkey, supported by NATO member countries, threatened to wage war on its neighbour.
While Öcalan first went to Athens and then to Moscow, Turkey and Syria, together with Lebanon, signed the Adana Protocol, which formed the basis of new rapprochement between the neighbours.
Öcalan later went to several other countries until he arrived in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, where he was abducted and brought to Turkey.
Öcalan was then quickly condemned to death, but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment without parole when Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2002. Since arriving in Turkey, Öcalan has been kept in İmralı prison under conditions which amount to torture and ill treatment, according to human rights experts and activists.
As in previous years, 9 October witnessed rallies for Öcalan organised in all parts of Kurdistan, as well as Europe.
In Copenhagen, protestors marched to the Danish parliament and called on the international community to break their silence about the situation of Öcalan.
Swiss left-wing activists also supported a rally organised in Bern by Kurdish activists.
In France, rallies were held in Paris, Marseilles and Rennes, where this year’s messages particularly prioritised and emphasised woman, with references to the ongoing protests in Iran.
In Amsterdam the protestors chanted “Öcalan’s freedom is our freedom” and “Jin, Jiyan, Azadî” (Woman, Life, Freedom).
Meanwhile, thousands gathered in Kurdish populated towns Qamishlo and Hasakah in north Syria to recall and protests the international conspiracy against Öcalan.
The people also took the streets in Turkey in rallies organised in several Kurdish populated provinces.
In Mardin, Ebru Günay, the spokesperson of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), spoke to the crowd.
“As for 24 years you could not get the results you wanted despite your policies in İmralı, despite your policy of isolation, today you will not be able to scare the Kurdish people by your barriers, your police violence, your repression, your police custodies, your arrests, your prisons,” Günay said.
“The conspiracy today continues with isolation,” said HDP lawmaker Sıddık Taş during the rally in the south-eastern province of Urfa, where nine protestors were arrested by the police.
“When Mr. Öcalan talked, peace came to Turkey and the Middle East. After that they deepened the isolation. There is chaos for seven years. Those who do not want peace did this.”
Nuran İmir, another HDP MP, underlined that the isolation of Öcalan has been emboldened since 2011 during the rally in Cizre.
“The price of living on this land by saying ‘We exist and we are Kurds’ has been death for Kurdish people. This is not our destiny,” İmir said.
Meanwhile, footage shared on social media showed HDP lawmaker Habip Eksik being battered by the police while trying to join the rally in Hakari province’s Yüksekova district.