Öcalan’s ideas discussed in Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival

Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan’s ideas were discussed in the events held at the Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival.

One of the long-standing traditions of the British labour movement, the annual Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival had a theme of Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan this year. The festival hosted the Freedom for Öcalan Campaign and participants discussed Öcalan’s ideas.


The festival started in the Tolpuddle town in Dorset, UK on Friday and concluded with a mass march and rally on Sunday. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn was among the thousands of participants of the festival, who came from all around the UK to stay in tents they put up in the area. Trade unions held various discussions in their tents throughout the festival. Photographs of Abdullah Öcalan were put up around the festival grounds and stands passed out Öcalan’s books.

On the second day of the festival, a panel discussion was held at the Tolpuddle International University’s tent on Öcalan’s ideology and the struggle Kurdish people have waged. Freedom for Öcalan Campaign Director Matt Nathan, Lambeth Mayor Ibrahim Dogus and Kurdish activist Elif Sarican spoke in the discussion and stressed the importance of Öcalan’s ideas and solution projects in ending the conflict in the Middle East and constructing a democratic region.


Unite the Union International Director and Freedom for Öcalan Campaign Director Simon Dubbins spoke in the panel and said the Kurdish movement has been a hope for them in the British labour movement’s fight for values they believe in. Dubbins said: “The Kurdish Freedom Movement is fighting for the values of humanity we believe in. They fight against dictator Erdogan in Turkey and barbaric ISIS in Syria. Kurdish leader Öcalan’s freedom is very important to us. As such, we labourers fight for the freedom of Öcalan. Because we know that his ideas are a light to get out of the crisis our world is experiencing.”

The festival’s central square grounds had speeches throughout the festival and music was played. Kurdish activist Elif Sarican gave a presentation on Öcalan and the Kurdish freedom movement. Unionist artist Azad (from Germany) sang songs in Kurdish.


On the last day of the festival, thousands more attended from all over the UK and hundreds of Kurds were also present. Before the traditional festival march, a huge rally was held in the gathering grounds where Ibrahim Dogus gave a speech in the name of the Freedom for Öcalan Campaign.

Dogus spoke about how glad they were for the British labour movement’s solidarity with the Kurdish people and called to grow the campaign for Öcalan’s freedom: “Abdullah Öcalan is the leader of a movement that fights for freedom and equality. Öcalan is the Mandela of the Kurdish people, and like Mandela, he fights for human dignity, equality and freedom, just like the Tolpuddle martyrs did.”

Thousands started to march after the speeches and two giant balloons that read “Freedom for Öcalan” as well as hundreds of Öcalan photographs were carried by the cortege.

Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech after the march and the festival ended by the evening.