A conference at Rome Tre University in Italy has brought to light the imprisonment of Abdullah Öcalan, the key figure in the Kurdish political movement in Turkey. The event, part of a global campaign initiated on 10 October by the Italian Committee for Öcalan’s Freedom, aimed to underline the importance of Öcalan’s democratic confederalism paradigm and advocate for his release.
The conference, addressing “Political Prisoners and the Prison System in Turkey” and “Civil Rights and Liberties in Turkey”, was inaugurated by Rector Massimiliano Floricci. The speakers included Enrica Rigo, a professor at Rome Tre University, Giovanni Russo Spena, spokesperson for the Italian Committee for Öcalan’s Freedom and former Senator, as well as Öcalan’s Italian lawyer Arturo Salerni.
Marco Grimaldi, Deputy Head of the Greens and Left Alliance Group, emphasised Italy’s indebtedness to Öcalan and urged the Italian Parliament to act. He highlighted Öcalan’s democratic confederalism as vital for all peoples. Professor Rigo started her speech by condemning the unacceptable solitary confinement conditions Öcalan faces. She described him as a significant contemporary intellectual, presenting a future for not just the Middle East but the world.
Russo Spena spoke about the ongoing campaign in Italy for Öcalan’s freedom. He stressed that Europe, having played a crucial role in Öcalan’s capture, can no longer remain silent on his harsh imprisonment. Italian lawyer Maura Palma called on Europe to reassess its relations with Turkey, citing the Öcalan case as not just a Turkish issue but a European one. She urged Europe to exert political pressure for Öcalan’s access to legal representation and family visits.
Salerni, Öcalan’s Italian lawyer, remarked on Öcalan’s forced departure from Italy, blaming those who pressured him to leave for his prolonged solitary confinement. He criticised international authorities for their silence despite the situation being a clear violation of international laws. Öcalan’s lawyer, Özgür Erol, spoke about the ambiguous conditions in İmralı Prison, stating that the lack of clarity and the denial of legal access for 13 years are unique within Europe. He linked the situation directly to the state’s approach to the Kurdish issue.
Newroz Uysal, an MP for Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP), addressed the broader implications of Öcalan’s isolation, viewing it as part of a larger oppressive strategy against the Kurdish people. She asserted that Öcalan’s ideas are key to resolving the Kurdish issue and achieving peace.
Italian cartoonist Zerocalcare spoke about his experiences in Rojava and Sinjar (Shengal), stating that the social revolution based on Öcalan’s ideas is a direct threat to Turkey, leading to its aggression in the region.
The conference also included presentations by Claudio Marotta, leader of the Greens and Left Group in the Lazio Regional Council, and Zilan Diyar from the Kurdish Women’s Movement, focusing on Öcalan’s democratic confederalism and his contributions to women’s struggles.
This event at Rome University has intensified the dialogue on Öcalan’s imprisonment, bringing together academics, politicians and activists in a united call for his freedom and acknowledgement of his political ideology.