Freedom ship will travel from Greece to Italy demanding freedom for Abdullah Öcalan

As part of the campaign “The time is now - freedom for Abdullah Öcalan”, a “freedom ship” will go from Greece to Italy. The aim is to remember Öcalan's odyssey in Europe, which led to his abduction and deportation to Imrali.

With a spectacular action, journalists, academics, politicians, writers and peace advocates from Germany, France, Switzerland, Brazil, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Greece and the UK, representatives of the women's movement, representatives of Kurdistan institutions in Europe, and artists will call for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan.

Some 50 people will travel on a ship from Greece to Italy. The action will take place from 8 to 12 November.

The Freedom for Öcalan Initiative said in a statement: “The Turkish-Kurdish conflict is currently in storm. The Turkish ruling party AKP has not only been waging a war against the Kurdish population in its own country for some time, it is also relying on military escalation against the achievements of the Kurds in Syria and Iraq. A peaceful political solution to the Kurdish question therefore seems out of reach. But especially in moments when a solution to the conflict seems almost impossible, international solidarity can develop a great force and revive the hope for peace."

"Öcalan is the most important representative of Kurdish society"

The statement added: "The most important condition on the Kurdish side for peace is ending the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan, the most important representative of Kurdish society. Since he was abducted from the Greek embassy in the Kenyan capital Nairobi in February 1999, in violation of international law, the Kurdish leader has been on the Turkish prison island of Imrali. He was the only prisoner there for eleven years - guarded by more than a thousand soldiers. He was denied any legal assistance between July 2011 and May 2019. Öcalan holds the "European record" for imprisonment without access to lawyers. At the moment, Öcalan is effectively in total isolation again. Contrary to European laws, the demands of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) and a resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Turkish state is still not ready to lift the isolation on Imrali. Despite this, Abdullah Öcalan is accepted by friends and foes as the political representative of Kurdish society. TIME magazine voted him one of the 100 Most Influential People in 2013. The campaign for his freedom has already reached more than 10 million signatures. Everyone agrees that a political solution to the Kurdish question must be negotiated with him. A real peace process can only take place if both sides negotiate on an equal level. That is impossible while Öcalan is in prison. His freedom is the ultimate test of serious engagement by the Turkish government and an important cornerstone for lasting peace. That means freedom for the Kurdish people, democracy in Turkey and peace in the Middle East at the same time."

Greece and Italy were central stations of Öcalan's Odyssey

Öcalan traveled to Europe 23 years ago to promote a political solution to the Kurdish question. Turkey and the NATO countries exerted strong political pressure on Italy, where he stayed for three months. Thereupon Öcalan left Italy and, after an odyssey through several European countries, set out for South Africa, where he was never supposed to arrive. On 15 February 1999, he was kidnapped in Kenya as part of an operation by several secret services and extradited to Turkey.

Greece and Italy were two of Öcalan's central stops on this Odyssey through Europe. As part of the international campaign “The time is now - freedom for Abdullah Öcalan, peace in Kurdistan”, the peace boat will travel between these two countries - from Greece to Italy - to demand freedom for Abdullah Öcalan and peace in Kurdistan.

Freedom Ship Program

The peace ship journey will be accompanied by a series of events and actions.

The campaign starts on 8 November in Greece. There the participants will hold talks with civil society and political parties. In the self-governing Greek refugee camp Lavrio, a panel discussion will be held on the 23rd anniversary of the “international conspiracy” against Abdullah Öcalan. On 9 November the ship will leave Greece for Italy. Meanwhile, a rally and press conference will take place at the port in Greece.

Two events will take place during the trip. On the one hand, an information event about the isolation in Imrali and the paradigm of democratic confederalism. On the other hand, a cultural event.

The ship will arrive in Italy on 12 November and will be greeted with a rally at the port. The action will end in Naples. The same day, at 12 pm, participants will hold a press conference. At 4 pm there will be a public conference at the University of Naples and at 9 pm a concert at Naples City Theatre.