South African executive: many similarities between Mandela-Öcalan
The South African National Assembly Spokesperson spoke about the similarities between South Africa at the time of racist apartheid regime with today’s Turkey's current regime and the need for an international campaign demanding freedom for Abdullah Öcalan
Lechesa Tsenoli, spokesperson for the National Assembly of South Africa, said that an international campaign similar to that carried out for Nelson Mandela should be carried out for Öcalan.
Tsenoli stressed that: “We were able to break the apartheid system with the solidarity we received in the world. Revolutionaries all over the world stood up for us. To tell Öcalan, the Kurdish people and the reality of the Middle East to the whole world is important.”
The South African National Assembly Spokesperson spoke to Yeni Özgür Politika newspaper about the similarities between South Africa at the time of racist apartheid regime with today’s Turkey's current regime and the need for an international campaign demanding the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan.
Speaking to the Yeni Özgür Politika paper, Tsenoli said the fact that the whole world stood up for Mandela's freedom for very important and actually opened the way to him finally being released.
Tsenoli said stressed that what had been done for Mandela in the past should be done for Öcalan today and that there are similarities between the Kurds and the peoples of South Africa.
“We see Kurds going through much of what we have been through”
"The Kurds are experiencing the same thing lived by us," said Tsenoli, recalling the work carried out during the time of struggle. “To launch our campaign worldwide was very important. We worked all over the world. There are some similarities in this sense. They wanted to separate us from things like ethnicity and race in our own country. There was the understanding of a discriminatory state. This has different political dimensions. They really wanted to implement this racist system in all areas of life. But from the very beginning, the solution to this was to establish an organization. The African National Congress will be 107 years of age next year. Indeed, it was an important step to fight against the colonial state. But we had a national rage. There was a revolt against the colonial system that ignored us. This also had legal and economic dimensions. For this reason, while listening to the resistance of the Kurdish people, many things sound familiar to me.”
“We got solidarity from the whole world”
Tsenoli added: “We were able to break the apartheid system with solidarity in the world. We have received practical support from all over the world. The revolutionaries in the world stood up for us.”
He continued: “To explain Öcalan, the Kurdish people and the reality of the Middle East to the whole world is important. What kind of message is Turkey sending with these pressures? What does it shows keeping Öcalan under isolation? The world shouldn't just watch and stay silent. Everyone is aware of the situation of the Kurds, but do nothing.”
Mandela rejected Ataturk Award: not consistent with our principles
Tsenoli also said: “The South Africa Parliamentary Committee offers support to Kurdistan on the basis of human rights. What is done to Kurds is contrary to our own law. Therefore, we support this struggle.”
In addition, Tsenoli remembered that when “Mandela refused the Ataturk Award Turkey wanted to award him with, said ‘This is not consistent with our principles’. Those people who oppose state violence should also speak out and say ‘I do not approve the violence against Kurds carried out by the state on my name, this does not represent us’. We have gone through this so we support Kurds.”
Tsenoli made an example of the importance of international solidarity. “The first thing we did, was that the ANC would send Nelson Mandela's comrade, Oliver Tambo, abroad to organize international solidarity. He traveled all continents to gather support for the South African struggle. They did not develop relations with governments. They may have met with parliamentarians, but mostly with civil society organizations, artists, intellectuals and personalities. The Free Mandela Campaign was launched in Britain. It was the largest action and work carried out abroad against the Apartheid regime.”
“People can move governments to act”
The people forced governments to show sensibility, said Tsenoli, adding: “Our comrades went to America. At that time, we hated everything from America. However, our comrades went there and talked with the public and activists and mobilized the US people for us. The society told the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States, ‘your policies are wrong’ and they pushed them to support the Free Mandela campaign. The pressure and sensitivity of the people were instrumental in the mobilization of governments.”
For example, recalled Tsenoli, “one of the ANC senior executive met with Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme. Palme told him: ‘We are the government, for us to support you, first you go to our people and gain their support. In this way, when Swedish people are with you, it would be easier for us to help you.”
Indeed, said Tsenoli, “We won the hearts of the Swedish people. And after that, as a result, the Swedish state supported our cause. They offered material and spiritual support. The Swedish people met with their representatives and pushed for support, and that is what happened.”