Lori Kollonfai: Öcalan teaches us the culture of resistance

Lori Kollonfai, one of the internationalists taking part in the long march from Basel to Strasburg, stated that her perspective on the world changed as she got to know Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan.

As the 15 February International conspiracy enters its 26th year, the actions and events organised within the scope of the campaign "Freedom for Öcalan, a political solution to the Kurdish question", which was started globally with joint statements on 10 October, are expanding. Around 200 internationalists from many countries such as Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Catalonia, Portugal, Slovenia, Macedonia, Slovakia, Macedonia, Slovakia and the UK are staging a long march from Basel, Switzerland to Strasbourg, France, demanding the physical freedom of Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan and a political solution to the Kurdish question. The march continues on its second day with great enthusiasm.

ANF spoke to Lori Kollonfai, an activist from Austria who is participating in the long march, about the process that led her to become acquainted with the Kurdish movement and the purpose of participating in the long march.

‘I want to break the silence’

Kollontai stated that with her participation in the action, she wants to break the silence surrounding the treatment of Öcalan. The 74-year-old leader of the Kurdish people, who is regarded as the founder of the Kurdish liberation movement, has been held politically hostage by the Turkish state for 25 years now, after being illegally abducted from Kenya in 1999 as part of an international secret service operation. Almost completely cut off from the outside world, he has been held in virtual isolation on the prison island of Imrali ever since, the last three years in total isolation. Öcalan is not allowed to communicate with the outside world, which is a blatant violation of Turkish and international law. Internationally, this fact is ignored.

Kollonfai, who met the Kurdish freedom struggle and the Kurdish people when she was studying at university in Germany, described the process as follows: "A conference on Kurds was to be held at the university where I studied. Later, this conference was banned without any justification. This ban started my interest and curiosity in Kurds. When I started to read about the Kurds, I started to get to know them closely. This is how my journey through the Kurdish struggle began.”

‘The Kurdish culture of resistance impressed me most’

Stating that what impressed her the most about the Kurdish people and their struggle for freedom was the culture of resistance, Kollonfai said, "Many things impressed me about the Kurdish movement. But the most important point was their culture of resistance. The fact that there is a people and a movement that has been resisting for freedom for decades impressed me a lot."

Kollonfai said that no one in Germany or elsewhere wants to talk about cultures of resistance and added: "On the contrary, Öcalan analyses and writes very well about cultures of resistance. In other words, he teaches us the culture of resistance. The more I read Öcalan's philosophy, his perspective on the world, human beings, life and nature, the more I started to embrace this struggle."

‘What unites us here is Öcalan's paradigms’

Emphasising the importance of the internationalist march due to the isolation conditions Abdullah Öcalan is in, Kollonfai said: "It is very important that so many internationalists from different parts of the world are here. What unites us here is our demand for Öcalan's physical freedom and Öcalan's paradigms. Today there are long marches not only in Europe but also in Kurdistan. Öcalan is under isolation today. It is worrying for us that we have not received any news from him for about 3 years. In this sense, this march is very meaningful to break this isolation."

The internationalist activist stated that her perspective on the world changed after getting to know Abdullah Öcalan's paradigms and added: "Perhaps the most important point in Öcalan's paradigms is his radical defence of women's freedom. It is very important that he puts women, ecology and democracy at the centre of his paradigms. For example, today nation states want to maintain their sovereignty despite the many problems they create. Öcalan, on the other hand, offers solutions to all social problems with his paradigms and ideas".

‘Not only Öcalan himself but also his ideas are wanted isolated’

"We must stand up for Öcalan's physical freedom," Kollonfai said, adding: "We must break the silence about Öcalan's conditions. I could not remain silent in the face of this isolation. With this isolation, not only Öcalan himself but also his ideas are wanted to be isolated. Everyone must do something to break this isolation and ensure his freedom. It could be a long march, a conference or something else, but we must do something. As long as we mobilise and take action, we can break this isolation".