At least 15,000 people gathered in Strasbourg to demand the freedom of imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan on 11 February, 4 days before the 18th anniversary of his abduction.
Protestors arrived from all corners of Europe, including Germany, Luxembourg, England and Belgium to demand that Turkey end the isolation imposed on the PKK leader and release him for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question.
A group of internationalist marchers, who had been walking for ten days from Luxembourg to Strasbourg with the slogan, “Status for Kurdistan, freedom for Öcalan,” were also present at the demonstration and took the stage amidst applause.
Marcha: Rojava is realising the dream of a fair and peaceful world for humanity
Reading a statement on behalf of the internationalists, Sarah Marcha said dozens of representatives from Europe, the Middle East and Latin American countries had marched to demand freedom for the Kurdish people. Marcha stressed that the nation-state system had engendered fascism and nationalism and was against the common values and interests of peoples, especially the Kurds.
The statement also emphasised that democracy had been torn down in Turkey, and called for the removal of the PKK from the list of terrorist organisations. “The criminalisation of the Kurdish freedom movement has created deadlock in the resolution of the Kurdish question,” the statement read.
Marcha also condemned the “Turkish state’s invasion of Syrian lands and its support to the ISIS”, and underlined the importance of the Rojava Revolution, saying: “The resistance of Rojava is realising the dream of a fair and peaceful world for humanity.”
Following the statement, group members from each country greeted the participants of the rally. Internationalist activists from Germany, Basque Country, Spain, UK, Switzerland, Portugal, Catalonia and several other countries took to the stage and held speeches in their mother languages.
KCK co-chair leader Cemil Bayik sends message
The co-chair of the Kurdistan Communities Union also sent a video message to the demonstration calling for a joint peoples’ struggles against the “alliances of genocide.”
Bayik said Öcalan had travelled to Europe in 1998 before his capture to achieve a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question but that “international forces had carried out conspiracy against his efforts.”
“Öcalan put forth the democratic confederalist project against these forces” Bayik said.
Cemil Bayik: Radical democracy and democratic socialism is a solution
“The Kurdish People’s Leader [Öcalan] has fulfilled his duty to the world’s peoples despite the challenging conditions of isolation and captivity. Capitalist modernity feeds on nationalism, crisis and chaos for which social democrats and liberals fail to come up with a solution. He [Öcalan] proposed radical democracy and democratic socialism as a solution to the problems of the world,” the KCK co-chair said.
Bayik also renewed the KCK’s for a Kurdish national congress adding, “If we realise this in 2017, we can take important steps for humanity and democracy.”
Kartal: We will overthrow AKP government in Spring 2017
Kurdistan People’s Congress (Kongra-Gel) co-chair Remzi Kartal also spoke at the event and said the Kurdish movement would end the AKP’s reign in power.
“As the Freedom Movement, we are ready. With the spring ahead of us, we have preparations and we will overthrow the government founded by Erdogan and Devlet Bahçeli (leader of the Nationalist Movement Party, MHP) and end Erdogan’s fascism this spring.”