Sit-in before the Council of Europe: "Time for freedom"

Until the end of the month, the sit-in is to be carried out and supported by different groups for three to four days at a time. The action will begin at 9 am and end at 5 pm every day.

A sit-in action has been started in the French city of Strasbourg in the scope of the campaign “Stop Isolation, Fascism, Occupation; Time for Freedom”.

The action was launched with a press statement in front of the Council of Europe. The first speech was made by Fatoş Göksungur, co-chair of the European Kurdish Democratic Society Congress (KCDK-E). Göksungur denounced the repression and genocide policies of the Turkish state and said: “We launch sit-in to say stop atrocities and time for freedom.”

Speaking after, Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council Member Zübeyir Aydar highlighted the importance of the action, saying; “We make ourselves heard by the world before the walls of the European institutions located here; the ECtHR, CPT, CoE. Vigils and protests have been held here for many years. The report announced by the CPT is the result of this struggle. We hereby remind them of their duties and urge them to act in accordance with their officially presented reports and to take practical steps.”

Aydar vowed that the Kurdish people who demand freedom for Öcalan will continue their struggle going without interruption until he is freed.

Confederation of Oppressed Migrants in Europe (AVeG-KON) co-chair Serpil Aslan said; “The isolation on Imralı is not independent from the repression applied on the opposition today. Uprising is essential in a place where there is persecution. We will unite and raise the voice of freedom and freedom will finally triumph.”

Ayten Kaplan from the Kurdish Women’s Movement in Europe (TJK-E) said: “We, women, will resist in all circumstances and take our place in this action under the motto “Time for freedom”. We will tell all the people around us about our Leader and our struggle.”

Further speeches were made by KON-MED (Confederation of Kurdistan Communities) co-chair Tahir Köçer, European Yazidi Coordination member Carcul Cemil, HDP former MP Nursel Aydoğan, PYD Europe representative Xebat Şakir, Federation of Democratic Associations from Maraş (MAR-DEF) co-chair Aziz Tunç, politician and activist Şafak Arabacı, CIK (Democratic Islam Congress) chairperson Ahmet Hafız Turhallı and Central Anatolian Kurds Platform (PKAN) member Ömer Koyuncuer.

Until the end of the month, the sit-in is to be carried out and supported by different groups for
three to four days at a time. The first group will lead the action till October 16, Friday. The action will begin at 9 am and end at 5 pm every day.

Those joining the action in the first group are: KCDK-E co-chairs Fatoş Göksungur and Yüksel Koç, HDP former MPs Nursel Aydoğan and Faysal Sarıyıldız, Batman former mayor Nejdet Atalay, European Yazidi Coordination member Carcul Cemil, KON-MED co-chair Tahir Köçer, PYD Europe representative Xebat Şakir, KCDK-E Bashur representative Hoşiyar Salih, SYKP Europe representative Tuncay Yılmaz, PJAK representative Ebrahim Alipour, Viranşehir former mayor Hoşnav Ata, European Revolutionary Democratic Commune Initiative (ADDKI) member Aycan Gaye Serbest, politician and activist Şafak Arabacı, AGEP representative Nuray Sağdıç, MAR-DEF co-chair Aziz Tunç, CÎK chairperson Ahmet Hafız Turhallı, CÎK spokeswoman Hatice Turhallı, KOMAW representative Lokman Arslan, KNK member Ali Matur, PKAN member Ömer Koyuncuer, AVeG-KON co-chair Serpil Aslan, FEDA member Demir Çelik.

In the meantime, the International Initiative "Freedom for Abdullah Ocalan - Peace in Kurdistan" has called for solidarity and participation in the sit-in against the isolation in the Turkish island prison Imrali in front of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

The Initiative also invites internationalists to participate in the protest days from 28 to 30 October, the last three days of the Europe-wide action.For registrations and further information such as how to get there, the initiative can be contacted by mail at [email protected]

The appeal of the international initiative "Freedom for Abdullah Ocalan - Peace in Kurdistan" states:

“A leading figure and the lead political philosopher and strategist of Kurdish society, Abdullah Ocalan, was forced to leave Syria on October 9, 1998. It marked the beginning of an international conspiracy against the Kurdish freedom movement, which culminated in the deportation of Öcalan to the high-security prison on the island of Imrali on February 15, 1999. Since then, total isolation has been practiced by the Turkish regime, which is a member of the European Council.

The Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) of the Council of Europe last published a final report on 5 August 2020, which stated that “[...] the Imrali isolation system against Abdullah Ocalan is based on a torture regime [...]”. The CPT has been aware of this for many years, but although it is the body responsible for fighting against this isolation, the committee has left it at that and has only made the weak demand to the Turkish state to loosen solitary confinement. The AKP/MHP regime, instead of listening to these demands, is gradually extending Imrali's isolation system over the whole country.

The trial against Abdullah Ocalan was a trial against the entire Kurdish society and his isolation is the isolation of all democratic liberal forces in Turkey and the entire Middle East. For internationalists in particular, this means that today it is more important than ever to show practical solidarity. This means to take part in the struggles worldwide with direct actions and to develop a practice for their own reality.

The only institution that currently has a chance to check Ocalan’s state of health is the Council of Europe's Committee against Torture (CPT) in Strasbourg. Therefore, the international initiative calls on all forces striving for freedom to take part in the three-day sit-in in front of the Council of Europe on October 28, 29 and 30. Because this struggle is an international one and the freedom of Abdullah Ocalan is the freedom of us all!”

The address of the Council of Europe is Conseil de l'Europe, 1 avenue de l'Europe, 67000 Strasbourg.