Italy’s Rende municipality of Cosenza, located in Calabria, has granted honorary citizenship to imprisoned Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan.
Rende Municipality chair Marcello Manna stated that he voted in favour of the action. Noting that Öcalan struggled for a peaceful solution of the Kurdish issue, Manna said: “The democratic confederalism suggested by Öcalan presents an alternative society model that is based on equality and recognition of different ethnic, religious, cultural and gender groups”.
Municipality Council Culture Committee member Marta Petrusewicz further pointed out that the International Peace Office had given Öcalan its Peace Award in 2016. She observed that “it is not a coincidence for him to be granted those awards. Abdullah Öcalan, who has a critical role in the peace process in the Middle East, is a symbol of the freedom struggle of Kurdish people. He has been held under isolation under inhumane conditions in a special Turkish prison in İmralı for 22 years. His life is under threat permanantly and he has been prevented from meeting with his lawyers and family”.
Another Municipality Council member Lisa Sorrentiona said: “Kurdish people have been oppressed for years by the Turkish state that denies their existence, bombs their villages, kills thousands of their people and tortures them”.
Pointing to Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, Sorrentinona stated: “It is a dramatic signal for international society to notice the current situation in Turkey”.
Several municipalities in Italy, including Palermo, Napoli, Palagonia, Reggio Emilia, Riace, Martano, Pinerolo, Castel de Giudice, Castel Bottaccio, Berceto, Cinquefrondi and Fossalto have granted honorary citizenship to Öcalan.