Peace in Kurdistan: Solidarity greetings to Abdullah Öcalan on his 75th birthday

The Peace in Kurdistan Campaign issued a statement on Öcalan 75th birthday.


The Peace in Kurdistan Campaign issued a statement to extend solidarity greetings to Abdullah Öcalan on his birthday. 

The statement said that "the Kurdish leader’s ideas are still urgent and topical, and he will be forever associated in our minds with youth because it is his ideas that so much inspire the young, the Kurdish youth in particular who have been inspired by Öcalan like no other.

Abdullah Öcalan is never simply to be seen as an abstract symbol of hope for the Kurds or as only the catalyst for Kurdish aspirations of liberation. Öcalan is a living human being, who has endured a third of his life behind bars, kept out of the sight of everyone, removed from his family and intimate friends, as well as from all those who consider themselves to be his supporters."

The statement added: "Just as his capture and sentencing were political acts all those 25 years ago, Öcalan’s continued imprisonment today after a quarter of a century remains a deeply political imposition. As such, his release would also become an important political action or message. It would be a positive sign for the country that holds him, as it would inform the world that Turkey is changing, that it is bent on resolving the conflict that drags it down and that tarnishes its image. Abdullah Öcalan’s release would mark an important historic step on the way towards reconciliation between Turk and Kurd, and it would offer an opportunity for settling the differences once and for all.

Öcalan still has a vital contribution to make as the unchallenged leader of the Kurdish people inside Turkey, whose status and authority as a political figure surpasses that of most others. Unlike those who have held high offices of state, Abdullah Öcalan has always been in touch with the people as head of a mass national movement and is regarded as a man of the people."

The statement continued: "From its origins as a traditional leftwing political movement operating under conditions of war and state oppression, the Kurdish national movement founded by Abdullah Öcalan has grown into a mass social movement that transcends national boundaries and has built its own institutions at all social levels and in different areas, extending its organisation of the people through enabling their own involvement and channelling their own talents.

Öcalan has above all been an educator who has taught the Kurds the value of understanding their own history and being true to their own identity as a people. He has taught his followers that the power lies within themselves and that they can draw upon their own talents to achieve results through political organisation and achieve results that might have seemed beyond their reach had Öcalan not provided that initial leadership."

Peace in Kurdistan said: "Abdullah Öcalan’s persisting influence arises from his ability to build a mass popular community based movement across the region as it represents undeniably the true will and genuine aspirations of a people too long denied recognition and representation in their own land. 

Despite 25 years removal from public view, Öcalan is still very much with us all. He guides the Kurdish movement and continues to shape the thinking of new generations. Ocalan is impossible to eradicate despite all the efforts of the Turkish state to do just that, efforts that have included unnecessary cruelty inflicted on him, like restricting personal and family visits and obstructing all communication with the outside world."

The statement added: "The Turkish mistreatment of their single most important prisoner and their response to the possibility of his communicating with the outside world indicates that he remains a force with which to be reckoned. It is as if the Turkish state itself lives in utter dread of just one word of Öcalan escaping its captivity and thereby taking flight. And in this perception they may well be right. His words certainly would take flight within the hearts and minds of his millions of supporters who eagerly await such a prospect. 

Only a few days before Abdullah Öcalan marked his 75th birthday alone in his prison cell, President Erdoğan and the AKP suffered a huge humiliating defeat in the country’s local elections, where in towns and cities around the country opposition parties, including Kurdish parties, made impressive gains. These results are signs that real change within Turkey is growing unstoppable. The scale of Erdoğan’s defeat surprised many and the outcome indicates that Erdoğan’s long grip on power is weakening.

This opens up scope for change in the state’s approach to the Kurds, which has been all about repressive measures and military action. The renewed prospects of positive developments for the Kurds in coming weeks and months is the best news that Abdullah Öcalan could hear and the best gift that he could ever receive. The possibility that one day he will be free is not beyond hope."

Peace in Kurdistan concluded by saying: "On Öcalan’s reaching this landmark birthday of 75 years, Peace in Kurdistan sends warmest heartfelt greetings of solidarity and friendship to him and to the Kurdish people. This day is an occasion to renew the commitment to redouble efforts to resolve the Kurdish problem and to grasp the emerging opportunities for peace.

We restate our demand for the immediate freedom of Abdullah Öcalan and all political prisoners as a vital prerequisite for achieving an enduring reconciliation between the Turkish state and the Kurds, which is absolutely vital for all their futures."