Irish artist Fitzpatrick painted a portrait of Abdullah Öcalan
Fitzpatrick explains that “Öcalan is a man who shows us how a leader should be. His finest book on feminism, which I have here (JF picks up a thin book with a purple cover), is how I got involved – Liberating life: Woman’s Revolution.”
The renewed website of the Freedom for Öcalan Initiative - Peace in Kurdistan published an interview with Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick is known for having created art for famous revolutionaries such as his more widely known iconic two-tone Che Guevara.
Now the artist has painted a portrait of Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan.
In the interview Fitzpatrick explains that “Öcalan is a man who shows us how a leader should be. His finest book on feminism, which I have here (JF picks up a thin book with a purple cover), is how I got involved – Liberating life: Woman’s Revolution.”
Fitzpatrick adds that having been invited to give a talk at the Sinn Féin Summer School, ended up talking to a woman from the Pirate Party of Iceland and we got talking – don’t ask me why – about Kurdistan and she gave me this book.
“I knew about the Kurdish people since I was a kid, - said Fitzpatrick - because in Ireland we always associate with the underdog; the Palestinians, the Kurds, Latin Americans fighting for freedom. I already knew all about Öcalan, but I had no idea he had written such fine work. So, I read that book and it is liberating. We have only in the past year had a referendum to allow women to have bodily rights; that is to have an abortion. We voted overwhelmingly; 73% of the population voted to allow them the right to choose, to stop the control of the Catholic Church over women. Öcalan seems to be on exactly the same wavelength and he seems ahead of his time.”
Asked what Öcalan represents to him, Fitzpatrick answered: “Öcalan represents to me a man who should be free. He should be sitting in the Turkish parliament if that is what he chooses to do, as a leader of the Kurdish people, without being subjected to violence or murder or threats. He should be allowed to say what he thinks. I believe he could be a peace-maker who could probably solve – I don’t want to call it the ‘Kurdish problem’ like we call it the ‘Irish problem’ – but he could solve the Kurdish situation by being allowed to talk to Tehran, Baghdad, Erdogan – I can’t see Erdogan agreeing – but I think in time if they don’t try to kill him, he could prove to be a unifying factor that could allow the Kurdish people to take their place in the four countries that are occupied by other people against them. So that the Kurdish people can stay unified.”
‘When Che Guevara entered the hotel I was working for’
Asked about why he started making art for revolutionary figures, Fitzpatrick replied: “In 1961 I was working as a barman in a hotel for my holiday and Che Guevara walked into the bar. I come from a very political family. All my aunts and my mother were right-wing, and my grandmother and some other aunts were all left-wing. And when I met Che I knew exactly who he was. I went to a college which was run by Franciscan priests who had a huge missionary presence in Latin America, which is why I knew who Che was. We got talking briefly and he told me he was Irish which I found astonishing. He is Argentinian Irish; his name is Che Guevara Lynch.”
The full interview with Jim Fitzpatrick can be read here: http://www.freeocalan.org/news/english/interview-with-jim-fitzpatrick