On 17th April 2021, an International digital panel has been organized by the Civil Diplomacy Center – North and East Syria (CDC – NES) on: “The importance of Abdullah Ocalan’s alternative paradigm in resolving the Kurdish issue”.
You can read below the main extracts of this discussion.
Host and chairman of the Kurdish Human Rights Action Group in South Africa
I will focus primarily on the initiative launched in south africa by the COSATU the Congress of South African Trade Unions – which is the largest trade union in south africa – together with the Kurdish Human Right Action Group in support of Abdullah Ocalan. KHRAG has emerged in South Africa after the arrest and and imprisonment of Abdullah Ocalan. It has taken part in the recent international campaign demanding the release of Abdullah Ocalan and entitled “The time has come: Freedom for Ocalan” and a just peace in Turkey and the whole region. Millions of signatures have been gathered and addressed to the United Nations and other international institution. We look at him as a key and pivotal figure for a peaceful resolution in Middle-East and as an alternative to these aggressive and expansionist policies led by Erdogan. The demand to free Ocalan is legitimate, he’s the representative of the Kurdish people, he can pave the way for peace in turkey and the region. We know this from our own experience in south africa that the release of the legitimate and credible leadership is inevitable and a necessary precondition for any peace process.
We have also campaigned to raise awareness among the international community about war crimes committed by Turkey and its mercenaries groups in Afrin. The Turkish State’s foreign policy is characterized by misogyny, discrimination and oppression in particular against religious minorities such as Yazidis, christians, allawites, and the defenders of human rights. We have endorsed and signed our campaign throughout Europe as well as in South Africa. Other solidarity partners in the world have also taken part in it. The U.N. Human Rights Council held special meetings on these issues to report and rightly condemn Turkey.
Italian feminist and activist
I’m an activist of Jin Network an all-women italian organization that is supporting the kurdish women’s movement and the member of the Italian committee: “Time Has Come:
Freedom for Abdullah Ocalan”. A committee that has collected now hundreds of signatures from politicians, unionists, lawyers, magistrates and prominent personalities of art and culture beside our activists of course. This campaign is working at the political level trying to involve both Italian and European MPs. Because of pandemy for now we can only organize online public events. In Italy we feel very close to Ocalan because when he came in 1998 he stayed in Italy for two months we worked very hard to grant him an asylum and we created a large support movement to assist him and the kurdish freedom movement. The people taking part in that support movement 20 years ago 22 years ago never ceased to do solidarity work. In 1999 an italian court granted the asylum to Ocalan the day after he was abducted in kenya and then arrested. Now what we are trying to do is demanding for him to come back to Italy and have is right granted.
In February, I had the honor to participate to a virtual virtual delegation to Turkey. we were 10 members including politicians, trade unionists, academicians, lawyers, social movement activists from several countries such as Iceland, India, Italy, the U.S., the U.K. The main goal of this delegation is to support the reopening of the peace process between the Turkish government and the Kurdish movement which has ended in 2015. Unfortunately AKP party doesn’t accept democracy and tries to rule with an iron fist in every region that voted against him.The Confederal democrcy theorized by Abdullah Ocaln has been dismantled and banned. It has in particular helped many women to emancipate through local associations and cooperatives, now they have become very vulnerable to violence. We have seen a huge spike of people being arrested with fake accusations. Over the past few years thousands of HDP members, trade union members, human rights defenders have been arrested and tortured. Their fundamental rights are denied. Students’ movement are suppressed. Let’s not talk about the press freedom which is not existent and all the newspaper that are criticizing with the regime are shut down under the excuse of terrorism.
The Turkish regime is aware of the impact of Ocalan’s democratic confederalism ideas on the Kurdish people and in other regions of the world. That’s why they are intensifying his isolation on Imrali island. This system of isolation constitutes a form of systematic torture
and is in violation of international treaties.
The concept of “democratic nation” advanced by Ocalan is solution for the Kurdish issue but also for the coexistence of all peoples in Middle-East. The revolution in Northeast Syria is a is giving hope and inspiration to millions of people around the world and is the only real alternative to capitalism. This would have never been possible without the analysis and the philosophy of Abdullah Ocalan. We all should intensify our efforts in order to make Ocalan’s voice to be heard and obtain his liberation.
American global conflicts analyst
When you look at Turkey’s past you understand that the rise of Ocalan was inevitable based on the conditions that the kurds were living under in Southeastern Turkey. The oppression on the Kurdish people and the forced assimilation have given birth to PKK. Actually long before the PKK was founded in 1978, there has been the Armenian genocide, the Greek genocide, the Assyrian genocide, the Dersim massacre.
I think that biography is fate. To understand the paradigm of ocalan you have to look at his biography. As a young person he had not a developed Kurdish identity but he could see a lot’s of injustice. He noticed that there was large landlords and the kurds were oppressed. Ocalan’s family could only afford to send him to school of all of the rest of his siblings.Every day he had to walk one hour to go to school. As a child his sister was essentially married off, one could even say sold off to a man for a few sacks of weed and money. That has marked him a lot and led him later to grant a great place to the emancipation of women in his thought and in Kurdish liberation movement.
Later in university, he and 20 other students in 1977 come together and engage in intense one-on-one political and philosophical conversations. Ocalan and his comrades were basically going village by village and talking to people and and recruiting them in a very slow process and making them see the conditions that they were facing. This is how they go from 20 people to 300 people. Within 15 years you have 15 000 guerrillas and 50 000 supporters in Europe. The persecutions against the Kurdish people who were denied any cultural or political right and the cruelty of the Turkish state gave new recruits to the Kurdish movement. Thousands of villages were burned down, prisoners were tortured in atrocious conditions. To protest these tortures Mazlum Dogan immolated himself the day of Newroz. It has a symbolic importance to the kurdish movement, essentially you know rebirth through fire, like a phoenix.
Ocalan’s ideas of democratic confederalism were inspired by different theorists such as Murray Bookchin and practices like in Chiapas. He proposes a multicultural anti-monopolistic and consistent consensus-oriented ideology that would provide space for people’s historical heritage. The reason is that the Kurdish identity and culture have been harshly suppressed by the occupying states. Women’s freedom is considered as a very important aspect to break colonial servitude. Another important point in his paradigm is tha domination in society and domination on nature are linked. He proposes a social ecology based on sustainability and self-defense. These ideas are now implemented in Rojava.
Abdullah Ocalan is not asking for the creation of an independent state. He just wants the legitimate cultural and political rights of the Kurdish people to be recognized, within the borders of Turkey. It was a shame for the western countries not to offer him asylum. When the United States wanted to sell millions of dollars in weaponry to Turkey they suddenly listed the PKK as a terrorist organization and participated to Ocalan’s capture. Ocalan has come to personify the kurdish cause itself. His trial was the trial of the Kurdish people, of 20 million Kurds.
The us needs to de-list the PKK as terrorist first of all the PKK has never killed a single american citizen, they’ve never attacked, the United States. They should do that because the KCK model is a model for the entire middle east. The he united states says that they support secularism, women’s rights , religious pluralism. Well this is encompassed within
the KCK policies and Ocalan’s model.
It’s my hope that Turkey will not miss this opportunity to release him from prison and negotiate with him in the same way that South Africa did with Nelson Mandela. He’s the only trusted figure among the population able to bring reconciliation.
Director of the International Department of Unite the Union, the largest trade union organization in UK.
The trade union movement in the UK has got a long and proud history of standing shoulder to shoulder with oppressed peoples. We were at the forefront of the anti-apartheid struggle. There has been a history of support for the kurdish people and a recognition of the oppression that they’ve suffered but i think it’s true to say it wasn’t particularly big and broad as it is now. What really changed was around the time of 2014 when a lot of the wider public and our wider membership really looked on in utter horror at what was going on in kobani and the onslaught of ISIS. They were really inspired by the bravery of the people resisting ISIS. We were thinking on how to express our solidarity. Ocalan embodies the Kurdish struggle in all its elements. So it became clear to us that we had to be focused on the freedom of Mr Ocalan. We set up our campaign in 2016.
When I went to Turkey, I could see first hand the violence and brutality of the State. We’re really pleased that our solidarity campaign has grown dramatically now. We have 15 of the UK’s biggest union which signed the petition. We have two big events in our calendar in the labour movement. Two hundred thousand people gather every year at the Durham Miners festival. We were really pleased in 2018 the Durham Miners said we want freedom for urgeland to be the international theme of our festival. A year later the other big festival in Tolpuddle said exactly the same. There’s a wider understanding and a wider knowledge now of how important it is. It culminated at the end of 2019 when 800 delegates at our conference all held up a picture of Abdullah Ocalan individually and made a collective action demanding his freedom. We’ve been pushing our MPs to call and to undertake investigations as to what is going on in Turkey.
We in the trade union movement the kurdish political movement shares our values of equality, inclusiveness, democracy, peace and women’s rights. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the struggle of the kurdish people we demand the liberation of Abdullah Ocalan. Ocalan’s perspectives and freedoms are absolutely vital for the future not just of the kurdish people but of the wider region.
Member of the Presidential Committee of the Democratic Union Party
The mentality of Erdogan ist dangerous not only for Turkey and Middle East but for the whole world.
Abdullah Ocalan is a political leader that demands freedom. He has never been a military or ordered somebody to kill. Actually his thoughts can benefit every people. International organizations and civil society organizations they can make pressure on Turkey. The role of CPT is to prevent torture not to watch it and report it. European countries should have the courage to stop Turkey. It is dangerous for peace even in Europe. We can see the war crimes Turkish army and its mercenaries are committing in Afrin. Turkey is not even implementing European Court decision demanding the immediate the release of Salahatin Demirtash. Turkey’s policies are treacherous. Europeans must be careful. Erdogan tries to expand radical islamism in european cities.
In Rojava we are implementing the ideas of Abdullah Ocalan. Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Yazidis live together in peaceful coexistence because the freedom of culture and the freedom belief are respected. Everybody can learn his mother tongue. We promote gender equality. It doesn’t please Turkey. We will continue to defend these values because it is the right way. We hope that through our international friends, Europeans will understand that we share the same values and that they should stand by us.
We should continue with that concentration on education as well as lobbying in the different regions and different organizations we represent so that the pressure must become action, to tell turkey enough is enough, you need to negotiate, you need to come to the table and release all the political prisoners. Abdullah Ocalan’s ideas of democratic confederalism should be disseminated and radically reinterpreted for the different regions that we come from.