The 'Great Freedom March' in Northern Kurdistan continues: Open the gates of İmralı now

Democratic mass organisations and several institutions are organising the 'Great Freedom March' between 1-15 February to demand the physical freedom of Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan. The march started from Kars and Van provinces yesterday.

Democratic mass organisations and several institutions are organising a 'Great Freedom March' between 1-15 February to demand the physical freedom of Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan. The march kicked off from Kars and Van provinces yesterday with the participation of dozens of human rights activists and politicians.

The march is taking place in the scope of days of action until 15 February, during which demonstrations, popular assemblies and commemorative events will take place in various cities. 15 February is the day of the capture of Abdullah Öcalan as a result of an international conspiracy in Kenya in 1999, when he was handed over to Turkey and has been held under an aggravated isolation system since.

A group of politicians and NGO representatives who started the action from Van continued their march in the province of Hakkari today. After a visit to Şemdinli, the group moved to Yüksekova, where they were met by a large crowd at the entrance to the town. A demonstration march was staged to the party building, where a people's meeting was held. Speaking here, DEM deputy Zeki Irmez said: "We are determined to break the isolation on Imrali with our freedom march."

DBP Chairman Keskin Bayındır gave a speech in which he referred to the long-standing resistance of the people of Gever and explained the background of the days of action: "The imperialist powers have only death, massacre and exploitation on their programme for the peoples of the four parts of Kurdistan and the Middle East. By isolating Mr Öcalan and the Kurdish movement, they want to make the hope for a new and free life disappear.”

Stating that they started the march in a difficult process, Bayındır said, "Our march is for the Kurdish people and other peoples who want freedom. This war will always continue until the isolation in İmralı is broken and Mr Öcalan's freedom conditions are ensured. The Kurdish question must be resolved through negotiations and Mr Öcalan is the contact person for this. He is not far away, he is on Imrali. The gates of Imrali must be opened.”

Bayındır's speech was repeatedly interrupted by chants of the slogan "Bijî Serok Apo" (Long Live Leader Öcalan) by those present.

Yüksekova co-mayoral candidate Şoreş Diri pointed out that they will be in action until the isolation is lifted and said, "We will break this isolation together. Today, not only İmralı but also our cities are under isolation. The Freedom March will reach its goal."

The other co-mayoral candidate, Şadiye Kırmızıgül, said, "All our people should participate in this march. Enough is enough, all peoples in the Middle East are under isolation. Peoples want peace."

DEM Party Gever district co-chairs Ercan Sevmez and Filiz Saygı also greeted the marchers.

Peace Mother Gülbeyaz Mıhçi called on all peoples to speak out against the aggravated isolation.

On the other hand, the group that started to march from Kars yesterday left the city in the morning and went to the Dağpınar town of Digor district.

Speaking here, DBP Co-Chair Çiğdem Kılıçgün Uçar pointed to the deadlock in the Kurdish question and said, "We know that this state policy that has been going on for a century has not yielded any results. The state knows this best. With this freedom march, we are showing that a democratic solution to the Kurdish question is possible and that Mr Öcalan is the interlocutor."

The group then travelled to Digor district. DEM Party MP Ömer Öcalan commemorated those who lost their lives in the Digor massacre. Ömer Öcalan drew attention to the isolation in İmralı and said, "All rights of Mr Öcalan have been trampled on. That is why we are here and our aim is to lift the isolation and solve the Kurdish question, for which the only interlocutor is Mr Öcalan. Our struggle will continue until his freedom is achieved. Our position is legitimate. You are the ones who are not legitimate, who do not recognise the law, who persecute. Follow your laws and get out of our way. Everyone is a witness to your oppression. The people of Digor know about the meeting Mr Öcalan held here. Digor gave its life in the most troublesome days, but did not bow its head down."

Ömer Öcalan continued: "We want no one to die anymore and we want an honourable peace. Only Mr Öcalan can provide this peace. Our people are aware of everything. We will continue to march for our people and our leader. Open the gates of İmralı now. Let this country turn into a rose garden."

After the statement, the group walked through the centre of the district chanting slogans saluting the resistance of Öcalan and the political prisoners on hunger strike for his freedom.

People in the neighbourhood embraced the group with applause and slogans. After the one-hour march, carnations were left at the place where the Digor massacre took place.