World Youth Conference in Paris dedicated to Abdullah Öcalan

"Ronahî - Youth Centre for Public Relations" and the "Youth Writing History" network are organising the internationalist World Youth Conference from 3 to 5 November 2023 in Paris.

In the Youth Writing History network, various youth organisations have joined forces in the search for an alternative life beyond capitalism, the destruction of nature and gender oppression. The network follows the principles of youth autonomy, women's liberation and system change. The global network brings together young people with different backgrounds, such as environmental protection, civil disobedience and human rights activism. Feminist, anti-capitalist and socialist groups as well as people's movements fighting for the return of their countries, culture and self-determination and educational groups also take part in the network.

The three-day World Youth Conference kicked off in Paris on Friday morning with an opening speech and a minute of silence in memory of the revolutionary martyrs. Young people from all around the world are taking part in the conference, the foundations of which were laid with the conference in Amed (Diyarbakır) in 2015 and in Kobanê in 2019.  

The opening speech was made by Florian André, who announced that the conference this year is dedicated to Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan who is held captive on the Turkish prison island of Imrali and has been held in incommunicado detention for years.

Florian André noted that the Turkish state launched a large-scale war in Kurdistan after the 2015 conference in Amed, and occupied Girê Spî only six months after the 2019 conference in Kobanê.

Florian André continued: “It is time now. Young people can lead society out of this darkness. A revolution is taking place in Rojava in the 21st century. To those who argue that ideologies, struggles and paradigms have come to an end, we say no! Our struggle continues.”

The opening speech was followed by a video screening about capitalism and the struggle of young people, and presentation of messages from various countries, including Lebanon, South Africa, Rojava and Medya Defense Zones (the guerrilla-held areas in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq). The messages highlighted the importance of joint struggle against capitalism and the resilient spirit of the youth.

A representative of the Lebanon’s Progressive Socialist Party International Relations spoke about the recent developments in the world and stated that the conflict in Lebanon drove people into poverty and migration. “In Gaza, war crimes are being committed amidst the ongoing war. We need to stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine. Progressive youths are building the future. Our struggle against occupation will continue.”

The following message came from the Women’s Defense Units (YPJ) and the Internationalist Commune of Rojava. The YPJ message said: “With the hope and belief that in this gathering very important and valuable discussions are going to happen, and influential decisions are going to be made to build a world and society that is free and victorious. Because we know that the existing system has set societies on fire everywhere in the world. With war, with isolation, with genocide, all methods of annihilation of cultures and societies, there is a very brutal war going on. Because of this, we, as a force and as youth, need to struggle in a very strong and dynamic way.”

The message by the Internationalist Commune of Rojava highlighted the importance of freedom and resistance as the only way out against the capitalist system amidst the arising Third World War. “We resist capitalism and build a new life here. We follow the path of Leader Öcalan. This conference is of great importance, not only for history, but for all of us.”

In a message to the conference, South African Socialist Movement member Nehlali Bassum stated: “We are against decisions made about us without considering us, the young people, who are the target of the existing system. It is time for us to raise our voices. Thousands of young people are unemployed and living in poor conditions. The system does not want young people to rise up. We want to build a fair society. 25 friends of ours have been executed since our foundation. The people here have no hope left. Young people are manipulated. The source of all these is the capitalist system. It is time now. Young people should write their own history. Long live socialism!”

Komalên Ciwan Coordination member Özgür Şerker saluted the conference and all the participants, saying: “It might be that we have not seen or got to know each other. Some of us come from Kurdistan, some others from the Mididle East, Europe and South Africa. However, we are all in search of a free life. In this conference, we see the spirit of the 68 youth joining hands. For this very reason, such a gathering will bring about a great victory. Humanity has suffered a lot at the hands of the sovereign and exploitative powers in history. With the capitalist modernity, attacks against humanity have hit the peak. Everything in this system serves the sovereign. All those who want to understand this system should have a look at Kurdistan, which is a litmus paper for this system. For 50 years now, we have been fighting against this under the leadership of Leader Öcalan and the struggle under his leadership has consequently spread to the whole world. For this reason, Leader Öcalan has been held in isolation for 25 years. However hard the conditions are, Leader Öcalan has never taken a step back.”