In 2021, while the isolation deepened, the resistance was globalized - III
While the "starting mark" of the resistance in 2021 demanding the physical freedom of Abdullah Öcalan was launched in South Africa, the British trade unions' campaign received support on a worldwide scale, in Europe, America, Africa, and Australia.
In 2021, unlike previous years, the demand for "Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan" has evolved into global resistance by receiving support from various parts of society in dozens of countries. Workers' unions, non-governmental organizations, youth/organizations, parliamentarians, artists, and authors all spoke out in support of the Kurdish People's Leader's physical freedom, declaring, "The time has come; right now." The significance of Abdullah Öcalan's freedom to the peoples of Kurdistan and the Middle East for peace, democracy, equality, and freedom was announced in dozens of newspapers across the world.
In 2021, South Africa took the initial move, which can be defined as the "starting mark” in the year-long struggle for the freedom of the Kurdish People's Leader that spanned Europe, America, Africa, and Australia. This would provide significant moral support to the campaigns calling for Abdullah Öcalan's freedom. After all, South Africa was the home of Nelson Mandela, who was freed after 27 years in an Apartheid-era prison thanks to international campaigns supported by millions.
The South African Kurdish Working Group (KHRAG) and the South African Confederation of Trade Unions (COSATU) started their campaign "The Time Has Come: Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan for Justice and Peace in Turkey" on January 11th. Within the framework of the campaign addressed to the UN, an open letter was submitted to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. It was suggested that the "Nelson Mandela Rules" be implemented for Abdullah Öcalan as well.
A few days later, the European Union of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights (ELDH), the New World Summit, and the International Alliance for the Defense of Rights and Freedoms (AIDL) all proclaimed their complete support for the project, which began in South Africa. Associations that are members of ELDH are all over the Basque Country, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, England, France, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Macedonia, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland, Spain, and Ukraine. The New World Summit, based in the Netherlands, also conducts global political and artistic research.
APPEAL FROM TENS OF NOTABLE NAMES IN THE WORLD
On the 22nd anniversary of the international conspiracy of February 15, more than a hundred well-known artists, journalists, and writers issued a declaration titled "Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan." "We are delighted to issue such a declaration," said journalist and writer Janet Biehl, sound artist and children's book author Leon Rosselson, musician and writer David Rovis, screenwriter Atiha Sen Gupta, and graffiti artist Jonathan Chadwick. The appeal called attention to the role of Abdullah Öcalan in the modern Kurdish struggle and the Kurdish Cultural Renaissance, emphasizing that "more than 20 years have passed and Abdullah Öcalan must finally be freed."
During the same days, a similar declaration from Southern Kurdistan was made available to the globe. More than 1250 academics from Southern Kurdistan pledged their support for the campaign begun in 2020 by the "Committee for Freedom for Öcalan," which was created by Arab intellectuals. This initiative achieved its goal on February 15, 2021, collecting 8,000 signatures by Arab and Kurdish intellectuals using symbols of Öcalan's 8 thousand days in prison.
APPEAL FOR ÖCALAN’S FREEDOM EXTENDS OVER FOUR CONTINENTS
Protests, demonstrations, and other activities took place in various locations around the world, particularly in Europe, virtually every day of 2021 in support of the physical freedom of the Kurdish leader. Appeals were made by non-governmental organizations, trade unions, and well-known individuals. Here is an overview of the resistance in 2021, which has taken on a worldwide scale by extending to Europe, Africa, America, and Australia:
BRITAIN: England and other United Kingdom countries were at the forefront of the countries with the most efficiently organized resistance. In April 2016, they announced the commencement of the "Freedom for Öcalan" campaign by Britain's main unions, Unite The Union and GMB. Unite the Union is one of the largest unions in the United Kingdom, with 1.5 million members and GMB 700,000 members. This campaign, which gained traction not only in the United Kingdom but also around the world in 2021, was supported by numerous unions and non-governmental organizations, resulting in the representation of millions of workers in various categories by the organizations involved in the campaign.
Tony Burke, General Secretary of Unite The Union and one of the campaign's coordinators, launched the campaign in March 2021. Remarking that they will accelerate the process, he stated; "Abdullah Öcalan will not be left alone on that island." The freedom of Abdullah Öcalan was brought to the agenda of Unite The Union's 2021 summit in October. At the union's annual convention, 700 delegates from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland rose up and displayed placards with the photo of Abdullah Öcalan and the call for his freedom. The union's session on foreign issues began with this solidarity action with the Kurds. Sharon Graham, the first recently elected female Secretary General, was among those who displayed the banner.
Furthermore, the Kurdish People's Leader's condition was discussed during the annual meeting of the UK's main opposition Labor Party. On September 28, a session was conducted at the Brighton conference in which the request for freedom for Abdullah Öcalan was repeated. Simon Dubbins, Co-Chair of the Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan Campaign, attended the meeting, which was presided over by Baroness Ashton. Speakers included MP Christine Blowers and President of the Parliamentary Mixed Wolf Friendship Group Lloyd Russell Moyle, Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazard, British People's Assembly Co-chair Elif Sarcan, and HDP MP Hişyar Özsoy. Speaking about the Turkish state's massacres against the Kurdish people, the speakers stated that peace, democracy, and freedom would not be created in the region unless Abdullah Öcalan was liberated.
Furthermore, on various dates in 2021, the unions placed full-page advertisements in the following British newspapers, saying, "It's time to end the inhumane isolation and 20-year imprisonment of Abdullah Öcalan": Newham Recorder, Saffron Walden Reporter, Inlington, Hackney Gazette, Hucknall Dispatch, The Gazette, The Guardian, Advertiser, Rasen Mail, Sunderlan Cho, Sleaford Standard, Visitor, The News.
ITALY: In 2021, Italy, along with England, became one of the countries where the resistance for Abdullah Öcalan's freedom was most skillfully and widely organized. The Kurdish People's Leader received strong support, particularly from Italians from the left, democratic, and revolutionary movements.
At the national assembly meeting, the cultural organization ARCI, which is on the anti-fascist left in the country, decided to support the international movement to demand freedom for Abdullah Öcalan. At the previous national assembly meeting, ARCI, which has over one million members and over 4,400 groups throughout Italy, said that they would strive for the freedom of Kurdistan and Abdullah Öcalan. The non-governmental organization ARCI, founded on May 26, 1957, by anti-fascists and leftists opposed to capitalist culture, engages in social and political activities, particularly in the cultural sphere.
Similarly, in the first half of the year, Italian trade unions proclaimed their support for the "Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan" campaign. The Italian unions COBAS, CUB, and UNICOBAS also wrote to the UN to support the Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan Initiative's campaign "The time has come, freedom for Abdullah Öcalan, justice and peace in Turkey." On the same days that these letters were delivered to the UN, the Antonio Gramsci Public School, Il Bene Comune Magazine, and the COBAS Teachers' Union-Sardinia all announced that they had taken part in the campaign for the freedom of Öcalan.
Furthermore, 2021 will be remembered as the year when the scientific community in Italy took charge of the campaign. The faculty of political and social sciences at the University of Calabria in Italy, comprised of 74 professors and associate professors in its academic senate, endorsed the campaign launched in support of Abdullah Öcalan's physical freedom. The scientists' joint statement included the following: "After acquiring delayed political refugee status in our nation, the Kurdish leader has been detained and isolated in a high security prison on the Turkish island of Imrali for 22 years. Regrettably, international institutions have denied Abdullah Öcalan even the most fundamental of human beings.”
In 2021, the Rende municipality of Cosenza, which is part of the Italian region of Calabria, likewise agreed to grant Öcalan honorary citizenship. Rende Mayor Marcello Manna announced in his statement to the municipal council on April 3 that he voted in support of Abdullah Öcalan being granted honorary citizenship and expressed his goal as follows: "We wanted to highlight the importance of human rights with this decision. We consider it a necessity to denounce the denial of human rights in Turkey.”
On February 11, a full-page advertisement calling for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan appeared in Il Manifesto, one of Italy's most prestigious publications. The Committee "The Time Has Come, Freedom for Öcalan," the Kurdistan-Italy Friendship Committees Network, and the Italy-Kurdistan Information Bureau made the statement. The campaign was launched in Italian with a similar advertisement in the Italian issue of Le Monde Diplomatique, one of the world's respected newspapers, published monthly in various languages.
GERMANY: The "The Time Has Come: Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan for a Just Peace in Turkey" campaign led by the South African Kurdish Working Group (KHRAG) and the South African Trade Union Confederation (COSATU), as well as the other campaign led by British trade unions received significant support from left, democratic and immigrant circles in Germany throughout the year, and and from 10 organizations, including the Tamil Eelam People's Assembly, Latin American Congress Germany, Ya Basta Netzwerk, in February.
In the same days, 17 more groups and individuals announced to the public that they joined the campaign launched in South Africa with the slogan "It's Time: Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan for a Just Peace in Turkey." In a short time, the Interventionistische Linke (IL-Interventionist Left), which is organized in 33 cities in Germany and has over 1000 members, issued a press statement announcing its participation in the campaign.
Rote Hilfe (Red Aid), a prisoner solidarity organization with branches in 40 German cities and over 10,000 members, Grüne Jugend, the Green Party's youth organizations in the states of NRW and Hamburg, and the organization "Seebrücke," which entered Germany's agenda with its support for refugees, all took part in the campaign. It was documented as evidence that the demand for "freedom for Abdullah Öcalan" was expressed by various segments of society. In addition, a full-page advertisement endorsing the British unions' campaign was published in Junge Welt, one of the country's daily newspapers.
The notions of democratic nation and democratic confederalism, self-government, and democratic autonomy advanced by Abdullah Öcalan were the focus of lectures at Potsdam University. It was decided to teach Öcalan’s ‘Democratic Nation, Democratic Confederalism, Self-Government, Democratic Autonomy Theory’ in the course "Anarchist Philosophy, Murray Bookchin's Concept of Social Ecology, and a Seminar Series on the Rojava Revolution as a Case." During the initial round, 25 students signed up for the course, which will be taught this winter semester.
SWEDEN: In this country, too, the unions came to the forefront among those who advocated for the freedom of the Kurdish People's Leader. The Swedish Workers' Central Organization (SAC) called for the freedom of Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan on the anniversary of the international plot against him, in order to secure freedom, justice, and peace. Erik Bonk, the union's Secretary General, released a statement on behalf of SAC, Sweden's radical labor union. In his address, which was videotaped and published on virtual media, Bonk emphasized that the Kurdish problem impacts not only Turkey, but also Iraq, Iran, and Syria, and that the Middle East is one of the most difficult unresolved issues.
Apart from the Kurds, Swedish artists and politicians also demanded the freedom of Öcalan in letters to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Left Party Deputy Daniel Riazat and theater artist Kemal Görgü were among the lawmakers and artists who wrote to Guterres. Left Party Deputy Daniel Riazat called attention to the similarities between the conditions of ANC leader Nelson Mandela and Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan in his letter.
FINLAND: The Leftist Youth Movement (Vasemmistonuorte) in Finland, a Scandinavian country, declared its participation in the campaign "The Time Has Come: Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan for a Just Peace in Turkey." The letter was signed by the organization's secretary, Henrik Jaakola. Vasemmisonuorte is a Finnish organization that fights for the values of socialism, democracy, feminism, red-green environmentalism, and internationalism.
NORWAY: Many institutions in the country, particularly the Norwegian Red Party, Red Youth, Changemaker, and Solidarity with Kurdistan, joined the campaign calling for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan. Norwegian institutions called on the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to act after announcing their participation in the South African campaign for the freedom of the Kurdish leader.
DENMARK: In Denmark, another Scandinavian country, the public was made aware of the demand for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan through commercials named "Freedom for Öcalan." In an advertisement published in Politiken, one of the state's leading national newspapers, Abdullah Öcalan stated, "Women's freedom is social freedom. There can be no freedom in society unless women are free." The Politiken newspaper, published by JP/Politikens Hus, one of the country's leading press companies, drew a lot of attention due to its large readership.
On the anniversary of the international conspiracy against Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan on October 9, Jyllands-Posten, one of Denmark's most widely circulated newspapers, issued a declaration titled "Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan". The declaration, which drew attention to the isolation conditions in Imrali, indicated that a more comprehensive effort was required for the freedom of the Kurdish leader, and Denmark was invited to play an active part in Turkey's democratic battle. Furthermore, in response to the Turkish state's isolation crime, the Information publication demanded the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan.
SWITZERLAND: On May 5, Swiss MP Fehlmann Rielle Laurence proposed to the Federal Assembly that the isolation imposed on Abdullah Öcalan be lifted. The resolution signed by Crottaz Brigitte Dandrès, Christian de la Reusille, Denis Fridez, Pierre-Alain Friedl, Claudia Funiciello, Tamara Gysi, Barbara Locher, Benguerel Sandra, Marti Min Li Molina, Fabian Munz, Martina Pillier Carrard, Valérie Prezioso Batou Stefania, Plut Jon, Schneider, Schüttel Ursula included important calls to the Bern government.
The "It's Time" campaign was covered in the Swiss press, as well as in many other countries around the world. The workers' journal, produced by the Unia union, which has 16 federations and 380 thousand registered members, ran an advertisement endorsing the demand for Abdullah Öcalan's freedom. The newspaper is mailed to its subscribers in three languages and in each canton. Again, the journal Gauchehebdo published the campaign for the freedom of Öcalan in the form of adverts and news in its columns.
FRANCE: The regional newspaper La Marseillaise, founded by rebels during the occupation of France, printed a full-page ad requesting the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan. The newspaper, which featured a full-page portrait of Abdullah Öcalan smiling, also devoted four pages to the subject. "The Kurdish Mandela's Story," "Regional Politicians and Associations, the Elected, Demand His Freedom," "Abdullah Öcalan's Ideas Cross the Borders (Interview with Eyyüp Doru)," "Why Remove the PKK from the Terrorist Organizations List?" The following topics were covered: "The Öcalan generation: these young people mobilized for a political solution in Kurdistan..." and "Our freedom and theirs are intertwined."
AUSTRALIA: The campaign for Abdullah Öcalan’s freedom was declared in the early days of the year in an advertisement published in the Sydney Morning Herald, one of the country's prominent newspapers. The photograph of British trade unionists displaying Abdullah Öcalan's posters drew attention in the announcement, which contained the demand for Öcalan’s freedom and for peace in Kurdistan under the phrase "The time has come." The Sydney Morning Herald, which first appeared in 1831, has a daily readership of nearly 11 million people. While 10 million 701 thousand of them read newspapers online, the print version sells roughly 1.5 million copies.
Furthermore, under the lead of the Australian Democratic Kurdish Society Federation (DKTF) and Amnesty International, meetings were held with Liberal, Labor, Green, and independent senators and deputies in the Australian Federal Parliament. The isolation of Abdullah Öcalan was brought up in meetings attended by four people on behalf of the DKTF. One of the interviewees, Melbourne Deputy Peter Khalil, stated that he would raise the worries and demands about Abdullah Öcalan's condition to the party agenda as well as the parliament, and that they would discuss the problem with their European allies.
GHANA: In a letter to the United Nations, the Ghanaian ACCP (Alliance Creative Community Project) joined the international campaign calling for the end of the isolation imposed on Abdullah Öcalan and his freedom. Abdullah Öcalan was described as "the genuine representative of the Kurdish people by millions of Kurds and the leader of the resistance against the Turkish state" in a letter submitted by ACCP President John Nana Yaw Okyere to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on behalf of his organization. ACCP, which was founded in Ghana in 2008, has been a member of the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) since 2013.
ECUADOR: The works of Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan were on display at the fair in Quito, Ecuador's capital. The three-day fair, which attracts ten publishing houses each year, was held in the El Utero cultural center this year due to the first spring rains. Due to the covid outbreak, seminars and panels could not be held at the fair, where the writers attended for interviews. In addition to the books of Abdullah Öcalan, readers were also given a copy of PKK founding member Sakine Cansız's book "My whole life was a struggle." Posters condemning Imrali's isolation and demanding Öcalan’s physical freedom were displayed in the cultural center where the fair took place.
- What position did the Council of Europe and the governments of western countries take in 2021?