Participants of the “Great Freedom March” converged with the Assyrian community and Arab residents in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority southeastern province of Mardin (Mêrdîn) on Friday, marking a significant juncture in their campaign.
Starting from the cities of Van (Wan) and Kars (Qers) on 1 February, the Great Freedom March advocates for the release of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been incarcerated on Turkey’s northwestern İmralı Island since 1999, and a democratic resolution to the Kurdish conflict in the country.
The Wan contingent of the march reached Mardin’s Artuklu district on the march’s ninth day.
During their visit, the marchers paid their respects at Deyrulzafaran Monastery, an important Syriac Orthodox monastery located three kilometers southeast of Mardin, where they were warmly received by metropolitan bishop Saliba Özmen, representing the Assyrian Community. Conversations ensued, with Özmen providing insights into the monastery’s heritage while guiding the delegation through its premises.
Subsequently, the marchers engaged with the Arabs Association, where Sakine Demir, mother of Sêvê Demir, who was murdered during the curfews in Kurdish-majority cities in 2016, expressed sentiments of solidarity, emphasising the pivotal role of grassroots movements in effecting change. Alaaddin Turan, an executive of the association, affirmed their endorsement of the march.
As the marchers continue their journey, their next destination is slated for the Kızıltepe (Qoser) district of Mardin on Saturday.