In 2021, while the isolation deepened, the resistance was globalized - II

People's actions, marches, and activities in Kurdistan continued throughout 2021 to end the aggravated isolation of Abdullah Öcalan and ensure his physical freedom. The resistance that spread to 2021 was unique and more effective than in previous years.

The resistance to end the isolation of Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been incarcerated in Imrali High-Security F-Type Closed Prison for 22 years, and to assure his physical freedom continued unabated in 2021 and became worldwide. The indefinite alternating hunger strikes of PKK and PAJK detainees left their mark in the resistance diary of 2021.

The hunger strike, which began on November 27, 2020, with prisoners from Turkey and Northern Kurdistan participating, ended on September 12, 2021, following the 290th day of resistance. Deniz Kaya's statement on behalf of PKK and PAJK detainees highlighted that deliberate and organized involvement in all forms of actions will serve as the foundation for the "Dem Dema to Azadiyê" [Time for Freedom] campaign. To support the alternating and indefinite hunger strikes in which over 2,000 detainees and convicts participated in 107 prisons, prisoners staying in the Maxmur Camp in southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq) and the Lavrio Camp in Greece went on strike.

In 2021, the resistance of Kurds and their sympathizers living on several continents such as Europe, Asia, and America became more effective, organized, and long-lasting. Demonstrations to break the silence of institutions in the face of unlawfulness on Imrali and the physical freedom of the Kurdish People's Leader continued throughout 2021, particularly in the international arena. Kurds and other peoples, wanted particularly the United Nations (UN), the Council of Europe (CoE), the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), the Hague Court of Justice, and western nations such as Germany, England, and France, to take action.


Tens of thousands of letters were written to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pleading for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan from all across Europe and the world. In addition to letters urging Guterres to act promptly, the Kurds and their supporters began a sit-in protest in front of the UN Office in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 25, 2021. The Kurds' protest, in which they try to make their concerns known in a tent they erected in the square where the UN headquarters is located, continued every Wednesday for 48 weeks of the year.


The Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan Vigil, which began on June 25, 2012, at the square where the European Union institutions in Strasbourg; the CoE, EP, ECtHR, and CPT buildings are located, was suspended in November 2020 due to the pandemic quarantine. The vigil continued on January 19, 2021, with the reintroduction of the bans imposed due to the pandemic to partial quarantine.

The demonstration, which takes place seven days a week between 08.30 and 17.00, with Kurds and their allies from other European nations, completed its ninth year in 2021 and entered its tenth. On the tenth anniversary of the Freedom Vigil, a huge march and demonstration were staged in the same square. In the action to stop the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan and achieve his freedom, brochures and booklets issued in many languages explain to other peoples, particularly the French, what the Kurdish People's Leader's life, struggle, and independence represent.


Apart from the Freedom Vigil, which went down in Kurdistan resistance history as the longest-running action of the Kurds, whose population has expanded in Europe over the last 50 years, Strasburg also hosted other weeks-long demonstrations in 2021. Kurds and their supporters began a sit-in in Strasbourg, France, on May 12th, in response to the call of TJK-E (Kurdish Women’s Movement in Europe) and KCDK-E (Kurdish Democratic Societies Congress in Europe). The four-week action condemned the absolute isolation of Abdullah Öcalan, the Turkish state's occupation attacks on Southern Kurdistan, and the US State Department's decision regarding three Kurdish revolutionaries from the leading ranks of the Kurdistan Freedom Movement.

On December 1, 2021, another long-running action in Strasbourg began. Kurds from various European cities and their supporters from other nations met every day during the meetings of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, which brought the ECtHR decision regarding the isolation of Öcalan and the aggravated life sentence given to him to its agenda 7 years later, on 30 November.


The resistance and struggle in Strasburg throughout the year alarmed the French government alongside the Turkish state. Before the anniversary of the October 9 Conspiracy against the Kurdish People's Leader, French police battered demonstrators who had set up tents in front of Strasbourg's St. Maurice Church demanding the physical freedom of Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan. In the massive demonstration that day in front of the Council of Europe building, the police violently removed the commune village that had been constructed following the demonstration. On April 5, Kurdish youth staged a civil disobedience action in front of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) to bring attention to the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan, which was also met with police violence. On May 7, the police apprehended two people after they attacked young people protesting in the ECtHR's garden.

Kurds have repeatedly demanded in 2021 that the isolation in Imrali be lifted and their leader's physical freedom be guaranteed in front of the EU institutions in Strasbourg and the UN building in Geneva, as well as in front of the Hague Court of Justice in the Netherlands. Of course, Kurds in Europe did not only organise in these cities' squares. While demonstrations took place almost every week in some cities throughout 2021, Kurds and their friends were in action in dozens of cities at the same time on some days. For example, the demonstrations held on the anniversary of the February 15/October 9 plots, after the allegations spread on virtual networks on March 16, and on the occasion of the World Day of Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan on December 10, were the most massive.


Due to restrictions, the long march, which has been organised every year in Strasbourg, France, from a location in Germany, took place differently this year than in prior years. Nearly 150 activists, including big internationalist groups, took part in the protest, which began with a protest in the city of Hanau. While the march and protest in Freiburg marked the end of the action, a two-day long march from Neu-Münster to Kiel took place on the same dates. Another two-day march was scheduled in Stuttgart to commemorate the 15th of February.

The Long March event, which TCŞ and TekoJIN organize each year to demand the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan, was also held this year. The march's 2021 route, which began on September 12, was Cologne-Aachen. Hundreds of young people from Austria, Sweden, the Netherlands, England, and Switzerland, as well as Germany and France, took part in the 6-day march. Despite the German police and the AKP-MHP fascist parties' provocations, the youth march concluded on September 18 with festive scenes.

In addition to the large demonstrations promoted by organizations, associations and federations, the Kurdish people took initiative with individual protests too. For example, on the anniversary of the February 15 Conspiracy, a Kurdish citizen named Idris Al Oso, who lives in the Finnish capital Helsinki, ran 42 kilometres to protest the isolation of the Kurdish People's Leader. During the race, Al Oso, who ran for 3 hours and 40 minutes in subzero temperatures, received support from the Finnish people. Shevan Rasheed, who ran the race with Al Oso, ran 20 kilometres, and Gelo Jîmhan raced seven kilometres.


This year's activities were also influenced by the "Mobile Library of The Leader" city-to-city tour. To promote the principles of the Kurdish Leader, the bus which carried his works, travelled to all of the major cities in many nations and parked in busy squares. The library visited Oldenburg, Bielefeld, Wuppertal, Saarbrücken, Trier, Darmstadt, Aschaffenburg, Mannheim, Giessen, Rüsselsheim, Wiesbaden, Mainz, Frankfurt, Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig in Germany; Stockholm, Uppsala, Rebro, Jerntorget, Malmö, and Gothenburg in Sweden; Lausanne, Solothurn, Zurich, Bern and Lucerne in Switzerland; and Rome in Italy.


In contrast to previous years, another unique event that took place for the first time in 2021 was the "Freedom Ship for Abdullah Öcalan.” Carrying approximately 50 people from Germany, France, Switzerland, Brazil, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Greece, and England, including journalists, academics, politicians, writers, peace advocates, representatives of women's movement and Kurdish institutions in Europe, artists, and politicians from Germany, France, Switzerland, Brazil, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Greece, and England. On November 8, the ship set sail from Greece. On the anniversary of Öcalan’s departure to Rome on November 12, 1999, the ship anchored in Italy.


On the anniversary of the February 15 plot, Kurdish patriot Halil Şen set his body on fire in Dresden, Germany. Halil Şen, who had been in exile for 25 years, died in the hospital where he was being treated, just hours after he set his body on fire to protest the aggravated isolation on Imrali on the anniversary of the international conspiracy against Abdullah Öcalan on February 15, 1999. In the letter he left behind, he stated: "Months have passed, no news has been heard from the Leader Apo, neither lawyers nor his family are allowed to visit him. There has been some reaction, but it’s insufficient."


- How did the "Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan" campaigns receive worldwide attention from different parts of society in 2021?