Protest against isolation cancelled in Berlin due to ban on Öcalan pictures

A demonstration planned in Berlin against the isolation on Imrali was cancelled shortly before it was due to begin. The reason for the cancellation was an order by the Berlin police prohibiting the display of Abdullah Öcalan's pictures.

A demonstration planned for Saturday afternoon in Berlin against the prison conditions of Abdullah Öcalan was cancelled by the organisers shortly before it began. The reason for the cancellation is a legal requirement by the Berlin police to prohibit the display of the Kurdish leader's portrait. "We have decided to respond to this arbitrary repression by cancelling the demonstration," said Erhan Firat, co-chair of the association Freie Kurdische Gemeinde Berlin [Free Kurdish Community in Berlin]. Those present, including activists from the Dest-Dan Women's Council and internationalist activists, supported the decision of the organising committee and chanted "Bijî Serok Apo" [Long Live Leader Öcalan].

"It speaks for the anti-Kurdish mentality of certain authorities that the display of Öcalan's images is prohibited even if it is 'socially appropriate', as it is called in the jargon of the authorities," Firat said. “This is the case, for example, with a vigil which, without any connection to PKK-affiliated activities, only wants to make the personal situation of the political hostage Abdullah Öcalan the subject of public opinion-forming. This was exactly our intention with our demonstration, which was to bear the slogan "Azadî ji bo Öcalan" [Freedom for Öcalan]. There are various court rulings according to which showing pictures of Öcalan in connection with his prison conditions is not forbidden. But the police accuse us of wanting to show the pictures because we are pursuing a general political cause and are not at all concerned with Öcalan's personal situation. This is more than nonsense in view of the concerns of our society in view of his prison conditions."

For months now, protests by the Kurdish community have again been taking place on a daily basis in Germany and other European countries. Countless people are demanding clarity about the situation of Abdullah Öcalan, the PKK founder who has been imprisoned on the Turkish prison island of Imrali since 1999. The protests are prompted by the complete silence on the situation of the 73-year-old Kurdish leader and the demand that the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) ensure contact with him and his fellow prisoners. For almost two years, Öcalan has not been allowed to see his family members or consult his legal counsel. The last sign of life from him was a telephone conversation with his brother Mehmet Öcalan in March 2021, which was interrupted for unknown reasons. Since the Asrin Law Office, which legally represents Öcalan and the three other Imrali prisoners, stated at the end of November that the CPT had no personal contact with Öcalan during its last visit to Turkey in September, concern for the life and safety of the Kurdish leader has increased. Kurdish society is demanding clarification about the CPT's visit to Imrali and information about the condition of the prisoners.