Syrian political activist Aysar al-Welî from Suweida advocated for the release of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, imprisoned in Turkey since 1999, highlighting peace and mental liberation in a speech as part of the broader “Freedom for Öcalan – A Political Solution to the Kurdish Question” campaign. Al-Welî’s speech, delivered in Suweida, highlighted the Kurdish commitment to non-aggression and mental liberation, drawing attention to the philosophical aspects of their struggle.
Al-Welî argues that the Kurdish stance is characterised by a refusal to initiate aggression even if in possession of overwhelming force, and a determination to resist if attacked. This approach symbolises not just a physical struggle but a deeper quest for mental emancipation. Al-Welî emphasises that human greatness lies in the willingness to make sacrifices for one’s cause and nation.
Central to his message is the call for the return of Öcalan, who is considered both a physical and ideological leader. Criticising Öcalan’s trial 25 years ago as unjust and influenced by international forces, al-Welî demands a fair retrial in a democratic system, emphasising that freedom is indivisible.
He also draws parallels between Öcalan and Kamal Jumblatt, a Lebanese politician who founded the Progressive Socialist Party and was assassinated in 1977 by the Syrian regime, and reflects on Jumblatt’s belief in building upon past sacrifices for future freedom and happiness.
Suweida (also known as Suwayda or Sweida), predominantly populated by the Druze, an ethnic minority in Syria, has been a focal point of socio-political dynamics. Since the onset of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Suweida has faced economic hardships, lack of governmental support and an influx of displaced populations. Recently, the region has seen peaceful protests driven by economic grievances and a desire for political reform.