Youth movements from around the globe gathered in Paris for the first World Youth Conference on Friday. The conference was dedicated to Abdullah Öcalan, jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
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Organised by the Youth Writing History network and Ronahî – Youth Centre for Public Relations, the event brought together over 60 organisations and approximately 300 young activists from around the world. Their objective was to discuss pressing issues and foster solidarity in their pursuit of an alternative way of life, one that transcends capitalism, environmental degradation, and gender oppression.
The Youth Conference operated under the motto “We will make history – youth in pursuit of freedom is unstoppable” and was based on three key principles: youth autonomy, women’s liberation, and the quest for a democratic society. Representatives from Brazil, Chile, and the Philippines outlined their reasons for advocating for Abdullah Öcalan’s freedom.
Alini, representing the Brazilian Youth Movement, stressed the importance of unity against capitalism’s divisive nature, emphasising the need for the freedom of those who fight alongside them. “We must unite and oppose all that this system offers that want to kill us. We need all those who fight for us to be alive and free so they can be here with us, fighting,” the Brazilian representative said.
Rafael Vergera, a member of the Free Youth of Chile, highlighted the conference’s significance in drawing strength and energy from Öcalan’s legacy to organise and challenge the system.
Rachel Dyamour from Anakbayan Philippines underlined the conference’s importance in the context of the next generation inheriting society, emphasising the necessity of uniting on social issues and noting that Öcalan’s release is vital for their call for national liberation.
During the conference’s first day, participants from Kurdistan, Argentina, the Philippines, West Africa, and Europe engaged in discussions on global struggles. A panel titled “At the Peak of the Crisis: Understanding Today’s World” was moderated by a member of the Young Women’s Movement of Kurdistan.
Precursors to the first conference in Europe were held in Diyarbakır, the largest Kurdish-majority city in Turkey, and Kobani, a Syrian Kurdish town that has become a symbol of resistance against the Islamic State (ISIS).
The conference will continue through the weekend and end on Sunday.