L’Humanité, a prominent left-wing newspaper in France, featured the imprisoned former leader of the pro-Kurdish HDP, Selahattin Demirtaş, and the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, on its front page on Friday under the headline “Under fire, in chains”.
In a scathing commentary, the paper denounced what it called the Turkish regime’s “merciless war against the Kurds” and highlighted the fact that Demirtaş could be sentenced to up to 142 years in prison.
The publication highlighted the escalating crisis in Kurdish-majority areas amid the Turkish government’s ongoing military operations against Syrian Kurds. It also highlighted a widespread hunger strike in Turkish prisons in protest at Öcalan’s continued isolation, which has now lasted for three years. Comparing Öcalan’s role in the Kurdish struggle to that of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, L’Humanité emphasised his perceived ability to resolve the ongoing ‘Kurdish question’ in Turkey through peaceful negotiations.
Stressing the urgent need for international solidarity to amplify the voices of Kurdish prisoners, the newspaper called on citizens worldwide to influence their governments’ policies, particularly regarding economic and military relations with Turkey, a NATO member. It also reported that 50 prominent figures had called for an end to military cooperation with the Turkish government.
L’Humanité highlighted the stark discrepancy between the Turkish government’s professed commitment to peace and its actions on the ground, aligning itself with far-right groups that reject notions of brotherhood and coexistence.
The publication also drew parallels with historical struggles for freedom and democracy, invoking the resilience of oppressed peoples throughout history. It portrayed the imprisoned Kurdish activists and leaders featured in the report as symbols of unwavering resistance to oppression and injustice.
The newspaper also carried an exclusive interview with Ibrahim Bilmez, one of Öcalan’s lawyers, on the PKK leader’s prolonged incommunicado detention. “For 25 years, Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan has been imprisoned by Turkey on the prison island of İmralı in the Sea of Marmara. Since 2021, friends, family, lawyers, nobody has heard from the Kurdish leader,” the paper explained.