Sit-in protest in front of the Council of Europe concluded with a call for "Freedom for Öcalan"

The sit-in for the Freedom of Abdullah Öcalan concluded with a rally in front of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. MEPs declared their solidarity with the Kurdish liberation movement and its demands.

The four-day vigil for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan, which started in Strasbourg on Monday following the call of the KCDK-E (Kurdish Democratic Societies Congress in Europe), was concluded with a rally in front of the Council of Europe today. For the past four days, Kurdish organisations have been protesting against the isolation of the Kurdish leader, who has been imprisoned in Turkey for more than 23 years.

MEPs and representatives from Ireland, Cyprus, Catalonia, Italy as well as activists from the Kurdish youth movement and members of the Kurdish umbrella organisation CDK-F in France and the KCDK-E took part in the final event.


Irish MP Paul Gavan (Sinn Féin) expressed his solidarity with the Kurdish activists, saying: "The Turkish state does not recognise human rights and democracy. You can be sure that your struggle before the Council of Europe will be heard everywhere. Sinn Féin is aware of this and we wholeheartedly welcome your struggle."

Similar sentiments were expressed by MEP Konstantinos Efstathiou from Cyprus: "I bow to your struggle. The right to hope cannot be denied to Öcalan. The Kurdish people are visible and recognised everywhere for their dignified struggle. Together with you, we are ready to do everything in our power for the release of Öcalan and the right to hope. Öcalan has been imprisoned almost as long as Mandela and this is unacceptable. Even the minimum of human rights standards is not applied."

Irish MP Thomas Pringle said: "As far as Öcalan and the other prisoners are concerned, we have hope. I am proud to be here with you. In Ireland you are appreciated by all circles."

Catalan MEP Laura Castel Ford described the treatment of Abdullah Öcalan as intolerable and pledged solidarity from Catalonia.


Another speaker was former MEP Barbara Spinelli from Italy, who, as Co-President of the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights, supports the campaign against the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan. Spinelli spoke about the international initiatives for a visit to the prison island and said: "As lawyers, we demand contact with Öcalan, we have communicated this to Turkey. We want to inspect Öcalan's condition and the situation on Imrali. We also want to examine the situation of the other prisoners on the spot. The isolation has intensified in the last three years. 350 lawyers have signed a joint statement. We must enforce Abdullah Öcalan's freedom. Turkey must give full authority to the CPT and the CPT must do its job. For this, the report of the last visit must be published. As lawyers, we will continue our struggle. The right to hope is not a dream, it is a human right."