Ocalana-komsu-geliyorFreedom is long overdue for Ocalan and the Kurdish people

15 February – 12th anniversary of Ocalan’s abduction

PRESS RELEASE, — To mark the anniversary of Kurdish national leader Abdullah Ocalan’s abduction in 1999, a series of events will be held at the Kurdish Community Centre (KCC) on 14 and 15 February)

Members of the community will take part in a hunger strike at the KCC on 14 February in a gesture of solidarity with their leader and on the following day a protest march will take place in Dalston to call for Ocalan’s release and for the renewed efforts to resolve the Kurdish conflict in Turkey.

The series of events will conclude with a panel discussion which will provide an opportunity to assess developments in Turkish and Kurdish politics over the intervening years and the key role that Ocalan continues to play in the prospects for achieving a lasting peace between Turkey and the Kurds.    

On 15 February 1999 Abdullah Ocalan, the Kurdish national leader, was captured in Kenya by Turkish special agents accompanied with CIA and Mosad’s, while on route from the Greek Embassy to Nairobi Airport. The capture of Turkey’s “enemy number one” was claimed by the authorities in Ankara as their victory against the Kurds who had been waging a mass uprising against the policies of denial and discrimination which Ocalan had led since the 1980s. The apprehension was regarded by the Kurds as the outcome of an “international conspiracy” involving the security services of several nations including the CIA, MI5 and Mossad.

His capture was followed by a show trial during which Turkish prosecutors sought to portray Ocalan as a simple terrorist and mass murderer. In contrast, Ocalan used his defence to articulate the case for peace and reconciliation between Turks and Kurds based on recognition of their cultural and national differences within a unitary state. His political ideas have been released into the public domain as his defence statements, sections of which were published in English in the book, Prison Writings, by Pluto Press in 2007; a second volume is to appear in 2011.

For many years Ocalan was held in solitary confinement in hazardous conditions on Imrali Island off the coast of Istanbul. His health condition is deteriorating in harsh environment of the prison. But despite all his personal difficulties, Ocalan has continued to play a central role in Turkish politics and exerts an influence among the Kurdish movement that cannot be ignored. He has advocated a negotiated settlement by putting forward detailed proposals calling on both sides to take steps to bring about a permanent end to the conflict. He has used his stature among the Kurds to urge repeated unilateral ceasefires on Kurdish guerrillas to give peace a chance which they have repeatedly adopted in the face of continued aggression by the Turkish military.

Insisting that he is a political prisoner, Ocalan and the Kurdish national movement have maintained a consistent stand for a peaceful conclusion to the conflict based on the achievement of justice for the Kurdish people. Through continuous discussions their proposals have evolved into the current demand for “democratic autonomy” inside Turkey, a policy which envisages the granting of local decision-making powers in the regions over social and cultural rights such as the use of the Kurdish language and mother tongue education, thus fulfilling longstanding key Kurdish demands.

What is clear is that Turkey over the years since Ocalan’s detention has failed to achieve the elimination of the Kurdish movement, just as it has failed in its insistence on seeing Abdullah Ocalan as a criminal or terrorist; recent news of talks taking place between Ocalan and representatives of the Turkish state underline the gradual realisation on the Turkish side that Ocalan’s influence remains crucial to achieving an end to this protracted conflict.

 

 

Supported by Kurdish Federation UK, Kurdish National Congress (KNK), the Kurdish Community Centre (KCC), Roj Women’s Assembly and Peace in Kurdistan Campaign.

 

 

Programme of Events at Kurdish Community Centre (KCC)

At Fairfax Hall, 11 Portland Gardens, London N41HU

14 Feb 12 noon: hunger strike at the KCC – concluding at noon on 15 February

15 Feb 1pm: a march will start at Dalston Junction concluding at the KCC

15 Feb panel discussion 5-7pm also at the KCC

 

 

For information contact:

Kurdish Federation UK e-mail: fedbir@gmail.co

Arzu Pesmen tel 07960302192

Deniz Arbet tel. 07553801070

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign e-mail: estella24@tiscali.co.uk tel 020 7586 5892