Call for participation in Cologne rally to “stop the quarter century of torture against Öcalan

The Kurdish umbrella organisation in Germany, KON-MED, calls for participation in a Europe-wide demonstration for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan in Cologne on 17 February, demanding; “Stop the 25 years of torture and arbitrary rule immediately!”

A Europe-wide demonstration for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan will take place in Cologne on 17 February. The rally at Deutzer Werft will mark the anniversary of the abduction of the Kurdish leader to Turkey. The founder of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) was abducted from Kenya on 15 February 1999 with the cooperation of international secret services. This act of piracy, contrary to international law, had begun with Öcalan's forced departure from Syria on 9 October 1998. The Kurdish community is taking the upcoming anniversary of his abduction as an opportunity to demand the release of the 74-year-old leader and a political solution to the Kurdish question.

The umbrella organization of the Kurdish diaspora in Germany, KON-MED, released a statement calling on people to take part in the demonstration for "an end to 25 years of isolation, torture and lawlessness"”

The appeal released by KON-MED includes the following:

“On February 15, 1999, Western intelligence agencies abducted the Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan, bound him, and handed him over to the Turkish regime, which planned to execute him. But the protests of millions of Kurds and their supporters forced Ankara to commute his sentence to life imprisonment. He was then jailed by Turkey on the prison island of İmralı in the Sea of Marmara. 

'Neither Turkish law nor international law functions on Imrali'

The İmralı prison had been designed and built specifically for him, weeks before his abduction. It is “very different from the rest of the prison system in Turkey,” Öcalan has noted. It is a special prison with special status, operating under an aggravated regime known as the “İmralı Isolation System.” The surrounding area is highly restricted and declared a military zone, surveilled by a thousand troops on land, sea, and air. Neither Turkish law nor international law functions there. In effect, by isolating Öcalan there, the Turkish authorities made a decision to kill him "not just once, but every day” a top Turkish general once stated.   

For 25 years, Öcalan has been kept in solitary confinement at İmralı Prison. But since March 25, 2021, he has been denied access to all means of communication and contact to the outside world, including with lawyers and his family. This condition, known as “incommunicado detention/absolute non-communication,” is a form of torture that violates Turkish Constitutional Law, United Nations Law, and the European Convention on Human Rights. 

'War crimes practiced in Kurdistan without international legal consequences'

The current imprisonment of Abdullah Öcalan perpetuates the oppression of the Kurds and the genocidal attacks against them.

With the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, colonial European powers helped divide the Kurdish homeland into four parts and sowed the seeds of conflict for a century to come in the Middle East. Since then, Kurdistan has become a geography where all war crimes have been practised without international legal consequences. This is because the colonized Kurds were officially deemed to be Arabs of Iraq and Syria, Turks of Turkey, and Persians of Iran.

In 1978, Öcalan founded the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in an attempt to liberate the Kurdish people from the systemic violence of colonial oppression. He outlined a new vision of Kurdish freedom, one that broke with the statist pattern and charted a path toward multiethnic grassroots democracy, women’s freedom, and social ecology. When the model of Kurdish self-empowerment put forward by Öcalan started gaining support among many Kurds, it angered the Western powers—which prefer Kurds to accept their own destruction. 

'Öcalan’s vision is the only path to peace'

But history shows that Öcalan’s vision is the only path to peace, and he has unilaterally declared ceasefires nine times. From 2013 to 2015, Öcalan also served as the lead negotiator in a historic attempt to resolve Turkey’s Kurdish question at the negotiating table. But Erdoğan, acting increasingly dictatorially, believed he could gain complete control of Turkey by stoking anti-Kurdish sentiments, and so dialogue was replaced with invasions, drone strikes, mass imprisonment, and the complete dismissal of the rule of law in Turkey. 

Yet the West remains silent, despite the fact that Turkey is a member of the Council of Europe and CPT, UN, and a candidate for EU membership. But the Turkish state must be held accountable and the 25 years of lawlessness against Öcalan and the Kurdish people must end! We, the people, can be that force that pushes international mechanisms into taking action. 
Stop the 25 years of torture and arbitrary rule immediately! Freedom for Öcalan—Freedom for the Kurds!

Join us in Cologne on the 25th anniversary of Öcalan’s abduction to demand his freedom!”