30 November 2017
Demonstration for freedom of Abdullah Öcalan and all political prisoners in Turkey on International Human Rights Day
On 10 December, International Human Rights Day, we will call for the release of Abdullah Öcalan, Kurdish freedom fighter, intellectual leader and political prisoner for 19 years.
Like Nelson Mandela before him, Abdullah Öcalan has been a charismatic and intellectual inspiration for his people. In the 1980s he led the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in armed combat against the Turkish State, a state whose violence against the Kurdish people had led to Turkey earning a reputation as Europe’s worst human rights violator. The number of pro-Kurdish political prisoners in Turkey has reached more than ten thousand. In recent years Öcalan has repeatedly called for a political solution to the Kurdish Question, has called on Turkey to lay down its arms and meet Kurdish representatives around a table of peace.
The academic writings of Öcalan have been the inspiration of a new movement in the Middle East: Democratic Confederalism. The idea that administration in the region should be ethnically inclusive, anti-sectarian and fundamentally rooted in gender equality is one that is being put into practice across Northern Syria by the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS). For a region that is better known for sectarianism and gender discrimination these ideas are revolutionary and exciting. Each political position in the DFNS, started by the Kurds in Syria, is held jointly by a woman and a man, while civil society is being organised on a cooperative basis with great focus on ecological sustainability.
In the international effort to defeat so-called Islamic State (ISIS/Daesh), the military units of the DFNS have been at the frontline of the battle, providing the “boots on the ground” for the International Coalition. The DFNS have lost 6000 lives in this war. Thus far the repayment for this brave fight and heroic sacrifice has been to be excluded from the peace negotiations contrary to UN Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015) which resolves that “the only sustainable solution to the current crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.” If this exclusion continues it will represent one of the most obscene political betrayals of the conflict.
Abdullah Öcalan is approaching his twentieth year in near complete isolation; he has been denied the right to see his lawyers since July 2011. Although he was allowed a number of visits by the Pro-Kurdish (HDP) MPs during the peace negotiations, some of whom are also now imprisoned, since April 2015 the visits have been blocked and the peace process has been abandoned by the Turkish government. The Kurds are deeply concerned for the wellbeing of their leader. It is time for the international community to call for his immediate release. The power, the intellect and the compassion of Abdullah Öcalan stand in stark relief to the repression, the arrogance and the almost complete abrogation of human rights of those such as President Erdogan of Turkey, who stand against him.
The march on 10 December will start at 12 noon at the BBC and proceed to Parliament Square, where a rally will be held with speakers from different organisations, including: Christine Blower, NUT International Secretary; Simon Dubbins International Director UNITE; Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign & Imrali Peace Delegation; Lindsey German, Convenor Stop the War Coalition; Bruce Kent, CND; MargaretOwen, Peace in Kurdistan – Women Alliance for Kurdistan, Syria and Iraq; Faiz Baloch, Free Balochistan Movement; London Basque Solidarity.
This Demonstration is supported by: Freedom for Ocalan Campaign TU Group – Kurdish People’s Assembly UK – International Initiative “Freedom for Ocalan – Peace in Kurdistan” – Peace in Kurdistan Campaign – Democratic Unity of Community Centres in UK – Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign – Kurdistan Students Union