International Conference on European Union, Turkey, Middle East and the Kurds, continues today

The 17th International Conference opened at the European Parliament. At the conference, the situation in Turkey, the struggle of the Kurds, the problems in the Middle East and the approach of Europe are discussed.

This year's conference is organized under the main title of “European Union, Turkey, Middle East and Kurds”. The conference will continue today.

Before the opening remarks, a minute's silence was held in memory of those who lost their lives in the 6 February earthquake in Kurdistan, Turkey and Syria.

The President of the European Union Turkey Civic Commission, academic Kariane Westrheim, thanked the European Parliament and political groups for hosting the conference, parliamentarians and Kurds. She drew attention to 8 March, International Working Women's Day, and said that “Kurdish women play a very important role in the women's liberation struggle and their contributions should not be forgotten.”

She said that "a political solution is urgently needed," and protested the silence of the international community about the drone attacks by the Turkish state in Rojava and the use of chemical weapons against guerrillas. Westrheim also condemned the isolation imposed on Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan and said: “The freedom of Abdullah Öcalan should be our top priority.”

Alfonsi: the situation in Kurdistan is dangerous

François Alfonsi, French EMP from the Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA), said: "It is important to open a space in the European Parliament for the Kurdish people. The situation in Kurdistan is very worrying," Alfonsi said, referring to the pressures against the HDP and the ongoing occupation in Northern and Eastern Syria.

Ebadi: women in Muslim countries are raising their voices

Iranian human rights lawyer Şirin Ebadi sent a video message in which she celebrated 8 March and drew attention to the discriminatory laws and practices against women around the world. Noting that the laws in the Middle East also reinforce discrimination, Ebadi said: “The root of this problem lies in the patriarchal culture. It is a culture that does not accept equality. Everything, including religion, is used to justify its own ends."

Citing Iran as an example, Ebadi said: “Look at the feminist revolution in Iran. Following the murder of Mahsa Jîna Aminî, women took to the streets, leading the way, and men supporting them. Look at the brave women in Afghanistan who started to raise their voices. I hope that the awakening of women in Muslim countries will enable women to achieve their rights (…) Women are the pioneers of democracy because they advocate equality. One day, on 8 March, we will celebrate true equality.”

Situation in Imrali

In the afternoon session, the situation in Imrali was discussed. Barbara Spinelli, Co-Chair of the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights in the World (ELDH), moderated the session.

Spinelli said: "This state of isolation must be ended."

Raziye Öztürk: Imrali worse than Guantanamo

Raziye Öztürk, one of the lawyers of Asrın Law Office, made a presentation titled “The conditions of detention of Abdullah Öcalan: From individual cases to lawlessness throughout Turkey”.

Öztürk noted that the resistance initiated by Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan continues today, embodied in the "Jin Jiyan Azadi" protests. She added that “Mr. Abdullah Öcalan is being held in an isolation system that is unique in the world.”

Öztürk said that the severe isolation situation that has developed in the Imralı island prison for 24 years has been deepened and it’s worse than Guantanamo.