Long March by Kurdish and internationalist youth kicks off in Essen

The long march for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan has kicked off in Essen. People from Germany, England, France, Switzerland, Colombia, Austria, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands are taking part in the six-day demonstration.

The long march of the Kurdish youth movement for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan started in the German city of Essen on Sunday. Kurdish and internationalist activists from Germany, England, France, Switzerland, Colombia, Austria, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands are taking part in the six-day demonstration under the slogan "For the freedom of Rêber Apo - Come to the liberation struggle!" (ku. Ji Bo Azadiya Rêber APO - Werin Cenga Azadiyê!).

The start of the Meşa Dirêj (Long March) took place with a minute's silence for the martyrs of the liberation struggle in front of the Kurdish Community Centre in Essen. Speeches pointed out the role of Abdullah Öcalan for a political solution to the Kurdish question and the construction of a society based on grassroots democracy, gender justice and ecological approaches. According to the young activists, this model of society is an alternative to the constraints of capitalist modernity and can be implemented all over the world.

On behalf of the organisers, Çekdar Serhad said: "Today we are starting a long march for the freedom of Leader Öcalan, of whom there has been no sign of life for over 18 months. As Kurdish and internationalist youth, we will be continuously active until his physical freedom is achieved. We salute the guerrillas who are fighting against chemical weapons in the free mountains of Kurdistan today. As Kurdish youth, we are part of this resistance."

In a following speech, activist Muharrem Aral pointed out the long history of Kurdish youth demonstrations in Germany, saying, "Our first long march was from Hanau to Hanover and lasted 17 days. The demonstration took place in 1983 under the impression of the prison resistance in Amed, triggered by Mazlum Doğan's action. Those who took part in the march at that time were Hozan Sefkan, Kasim Engin and Hozan Mizgîn. Kasim Engin said during the demonstration: 'Turkish colonialism has missed the train'. The tradition of the long marches is continued today together with internationalist youth. We dedicate our march to the struggling comrades in the Medya Defense Zones. The freedom of Leader Öcalan is the freedom of our people."

Today's leg of the demonstration will end at Duisburg Central Station. From there, it will continue to Krefeld on Monday at noon and in the following days via Düsseldorf, Leverkusen and Cologne to Aachen, where the final event will take place on 16 September.