‘Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan March’ to Gemlik kicks off

A march organised by political parties, organizations and NGOs is taking place in Turkey this weekend to demand the lifting of Abdullah Öcalan's isolation and a political solution to the Kurdish question.

There has been no sign of life from Abdullah Öcalan and his three fellow prisoners, Hamili Yıldırım, Ömer Hayri Konar and Veysi Aktaş on the prison island of Imrali for 32 months. The Turkish authorities have been blocking access to their lawyers from the Asrin Law Office, citing alleged disciplinary sanctions for years. Written or telephone communication with Imrali prisoners is also prevented. The complete isolation of prisoners is illegal under both Turkish law and international standards. PKK founder Abdullah Öcalan is considered the most important contact person for a political solution to the Kurdish question. There are worldwide calls for his release so that he can take part in talks for a solution under appropriate conditions.

To highlight this demand, the HEDEP (Peoples’ Party for Equality and Democracy), DBP (Democratic Regions Party), DTK (Democratic Society Congress), TJA (Free Women’s Movement), Peace Mothers Assembly, as well as many non-governmental organizations such as MATUHAY-DER (Marmara Assistance and Solidarity Association with the Families of Detainees and Convicts), ANYAKAY-DER (Anatolian Association for Assistance and Solidarity with the Families Who Have Lost Their Relatives) are organising a march to Gemlik, a town in the province of Bursa from where ships depart to the prison island of Imrali in the Sea of Marmara.

The march kicked off from four points and regions in North Kurdistan today and will continue in western Turkey on Sunday. People from a total of 122 places will make their way to Gemlik.

In the provinces of Şırnak and Urfa, the first participants departed for Gemlik on Saturday morning. HEDEP deputy Mehmet Zeki Irmez made a statement before the departure from Şırnak and said: "We are on our way to Gemlik. Mr Öcalan has been isolated for almost 25 years, and his fellow prisoners are also affected by this isolation. We are going on the offensive against this. This campaign will continue, and we will not let any obstacles stop us. As the people of Botan, we are turning towards Imrali. We demand an end to the isolation and call on all democratic organisations to support us. We are travelling to Gemlik for freedom and peace."

The participants from Batman, Siirt and Urfa travelled to Amed (Diyarbakir), where the first stopover of the march is located.

In Amed, participants of the march gathered in front of the HEDEP office and marched to Koşuyolu Park in the central Yenişehir district. Those partaking in the march include Abdullah Öcalan’s brother Mehmet Öcalan, DTK Co-Chair Berdan Öztürk, HEDEP Co-Chair Tuncer Bakırhan, DBP Co-Chairs Başkanları Çiğdem Kılıçgün Uçar and Keskin Bayındır.

On the other hand, those who set off from Adana, Antep, Hatay and Osmaniye are gathering in Mersin where a press statement will be made before their departure to Gemlik.