Kobanê youth rally against isolation of Öcalan and use of chemical weapons

Youth from the Council of Martyrs’ Families have taken to the streets in Kobanê to protest against the Turkish state’s use of chemical weapons in Southern Kurdistan and the isolation of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan.

Hundreds of young people organised in the Council of Martyrs’ Families took to the streets in the northern Syrian canton of Kobanê on Saturday afternoon to protest against the Turkish state. The young people's anger was directed against the use of chemical weapons by the Turkish army against the PKK guerrillas in Southern Kurdistan (Northern Iraq) and the isolation of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan. The 74-year-old has been held hostage on the Turkish prison island of Imrali since 1999, the last few years again under total isolation. Kurdish society sees his continued imprisonment as the greatest obstacle to the resolution of the Kurdistan question.

"Our anger is huge," said an activist at the start of the demonstration. During the course of the march from Qereqozaq Bridge to Öcalan Park, the activists held a large banner with the Kurdish leader's image. Other demonstrators carried signs with pictures of PKK guerrillas killed by Turkish chemical weapons. Slogans were chanted denouncing the "international tolerance of Turkish war crimes" in Southern Kurdistan.

The march was followed by a rally where Hecî Agasî from the Council of Martyrs’ Families spoke after a minute of silence, saying, “The use of chemical weapons in armed conflicts is internationally outlawed. Turkey, by signing the Chemical Weapons Convention, has committed itself to neither using nor maintaining these weapons in its stockpiles. The proven use of chemical weapons in Southern Kurdistan therefore constitutes a war crime. It is a blatant contradiction if the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW], established by the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, does not fulfil its obligations to monitor compliance with and implementation of this international legal agreement. It is significant that the OPCW repeatedly remains inactive against serious accusations from Kurdish society. The Turkish regime is encouraged by this ignorance to carry out massacres against our people."