International Initiative expresses concern over Ocalan’s wellbeing

PRESS STATEMENT

8 January 2016

Concerns about Abdullah Öcalan’s life: What is happening in Imrali Island Prison?

While Öcalan’s and Imrali Island’s total isolation continues since April 2015, now two inmates have been removed from the island and isolated elsewhere. This gives rise to the question: What is happening in Imrali? Is Öcalan’s life in danger?

The Imrali island prison is the Guantanamo of Europe. Over the 17 years of Öcalan’s imprisonment it has had an arbitrary and continuous aggravated isolation regime in place[1]. Bringing in a few other prisoners in 2009 has not removed this regime–on the contrary: the number of persons subjected to an aggravated isolation regime has increased. This regime has only relaxed slightly while a political process was in place; when there is no process the isolation regime turns into total isolation with no news from prisoners, no lawyer-client consultations, family visits, letters or telephone calls for any prisoner in Imrali (Öcalan is denied the right to phone anyway). Continue reading

Statements call for Ocalan’s release on the anniversary of his expulsion from Syria

CENI WOMEN’S OFFICE FOR PEACE

The Syrian war started with the expulsion of Abdullah Öcalan

His freedom is our freedom

 

On 9 October 1998 Abdullah Öcalan was expelled from Syria, due to pressure from the Turkish government. As a result of an international plot he was later kidnapped and since 1999 has been in a Turkish prison, held under the most severe conditions of solitary confinement. Nevertheless in 2007 the Turkish state started negotiations with him as the representative of the Kurdish freedom movement. However, since 5 April this year he has been cut out of the negotiating delegation and has been kept completely isolated. This treatment of a significant political prisoner holds an entire society hostage and has a detrimental influence on peace negotiations in the Middle East.

Peace negotiations with the participation of Abdullah Öcalan, as well as his freedom, are directly linked to the freedom of the people in the Middle East. Continue reading

University of Strathclyde Students’ Association grants Honorary Life Membership to Jailed Kurdish Leader Abdullah Ocalan

20th of June at the University of Strathclyde Students’ Association in Vertigo at 5pm.

 

The University of Strathclyde Students’ Association (USSA) has recognised Abdullah Ocalan, the founder and leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), for his fight for freedom, justice and self-determination of the Kurdish people, for which he has been imprisoned by the Turkish state since 1999.

Ocalan has redefined the historic struggle of the Kurds as one of achieving democratic autonomy and called for dialogue between the PKK and Turkey with the aim of replacing armed conflict with democracy and reconciliation, continuing his life long fight for freedom, equality between peoples and recognition for the Kurds. [1] Continue reading

Now Is the time: Abdullah Ocalan Freedom March

On Friday 13th  and Saturday 14th February thousands of people gathered in Strasbourg to call for freedom for Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is entering his 17th year in prison on the island of Imrali. The events came after many days of walking as many hundreds of people trekked across Europe to Strasbourg in  a show of solidarity with the PKK leader.  The incredible results of the Free Ocalan Campaign, in which over 10 million people signed a petition calling for Ocalan’s release, were also handed in to officials at the Council of Europe.

Thank you to filmmakers System D for the video!

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10.3 Million Signatures for Peace and Freedom for Öcalan

Free ocalan muralToday, thousands of people have gathered in Strasbourg for the culmination of a huge international campaign calling for the release of Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the PKK, on the 16th anniversary of his abduction. An incredible 10.3 million people from across the world signed a petition demanding freedom for Ocalan. Peace in Kurdistan Campaign has proudly supported the campaign from the beginning and sent a solidarity statement to the organisers of today’s press conference, as did Margaret Owen on behalf of all our patrons, who were among the first signatories to the campaign. 

The International Initiative, which organised the campaign, today released this statement:

Statement of the International Initiative, 13 February 2015

In March 1999, when the International Initiative “Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan—Peace in Kurdistan” was founded, it was unthinkable. Unthinkable, that Abdullah Öcalan would ever – get out alive. After his forceful abduction from Kenya with the help of Western intelligence services, a seemingly big victory of the Turkish state, the question seemed to be whether Abdullah Öcalan was executed without a trial or after a trial. To even think of “Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan” amounted to lunacy. Nevertheless, an impressive number of intellectuals, artists, politicians and activists read the signs of the times differently. Even back then, 16 years ago, they knew that for a sustainable solution of the so-called Kurdish question Öcalan had to be free and a peaceful solution had to be negotiated. This group founded the International Initiative. Continue reading

Solidarity message to press conference on 13 February 2015

 

I Margaret Owen, on behalf of the UK based PATRONS OF PEACE IN KURDISTAN, who are among the “first” signatories of the petition to secure the release Abdullah Ocalan from his 16 year incarceration on the Isle of Imrali by Turkey, greet you.

We send our most fervent wishes to the organisers of the March to Strasbourg and to all those gathering in Strasbourg on February 13th to demand that Ocalan is freed. The long imprisonment of the Kurdish leader is one of the greatest injustices in history, not just for the Kurdish people, but for all peoples of the world who salute Ocalan for his breadth of vision in defending the universal values of democracy, pluralism, gender equality, and freedom.

London, 7 February 2015

Margaret Owen on behalf of Lord Avebury, Lord Rea, Lord Dholakia, Jill Evans MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Hywel Williams MP, Elfyn Llwyd MP, Conor Murphy MP, John Austin, Bruce Kent, Gareth Peirce, Noam Chomsky, John Berger, Edward Albee, Prof Mary Davis, Mark Thomas, Nick Hildyard, Stephen Smellie, Derek Wall

 

Council for the Prevention of Torture reports on visit to Imrali island

imraliFollowing the publication of the EP’s resolution on the 2013 Turkey Progress Report, another European institution has put Turkey under the spotlight this week, the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT). The CPT visited the island of Imrali in January 2013 and laid out their finding in a report, which is available to download here.

The CPT found that Abdullah Ocalan is being denied the same amount of open air time as the five other prisoners, and that he is not still allowed to have contact with them during his outdoor exercise despite earlier recommendations that this should be allowed. They add, “Out of a total of 168 hours per week, prisoners could stay outside their cells for up to 36 hours (22 for Abdullah Ocalan), but they were able to be in contact with other inmates for only 8 hours per week; in other words, they were being held in solitary confinement for 160 hours a week.”

The CPT goes on to say: “More generally, the CPT must stress once again that the regime applied to prisoners serving a sentence of aggravated life imprisonment suffers from a fundamental flaw and and should be revised not only at Imrali prison but in the prison system as a whole….as a matter of principle, the imposition of such a regime [of isolation] should not be the automatic consequence of the type of sentence imposed. The Committee wishes to stress that life-sentenced prisoners (as indeed all prisoners) are sent to prison as punishment and not to be punished within the prison.”

The report reveals the torturous levels of solitary confinement suffered by the prisoners, especially Ocalan. At one point in 2011, Ocalan was held in continuous cellular confinement for a total of 240 days as part of a disciplinary punishment, far exceeding the CPT’s owen recommendations to impose this kind of solitary on an inmate for just 14 days at a time. “Such a state of affairs is totally unacceptable”, the report concludes.

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15 years in Imrali: Free Ocalan!

Below is the text from the latest leaflet from the International Initiative on the 15th anniversary of Ocalan’s capture and imprisonment on the prison island of Imrali. The Leaflet can be downloaded as a pdf here for distribution.

On the 15th anniversary of his abduction we demand: Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan

Who is Abdullah Öcalan?
Millions of Kurds regard Abdullah Öcalan as their political representative. He is the most important exponent
of their struggle for rights and democracy and has become a symbol for the freedom of the Kurds. Öcalan opposes separatism and secessionism and stands for a democratic Middle East with all the peoples having equal rights. The ongoing worldwide signature campaign for his freedom has collected 2.4 million signatures. TIME Magazine has elected him among the 100 most influential leaders in 2013.

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Ocalan: My real role in Kurds’ struggle for freedom

Originally published in the Guardian:

The Guardian, Monday 20 January 2014 21.00 GMT

I am writing in response to an editorial published in your newspaper on the occasion of Nelson Mandela’s death (5 December). The article drew comparisons between Mandela, Nehru, Aung Sang Suu Kyi and me. Such comparisons belying a hegemonic mindset demonstrate a lack of understanding of the reality of those faced with struggling for freedom.

In describing me as “feared and worshipped”, I detect hostility towards those who are forced to rely on their self-belief in their struggle against slavery, massacres and policies of denial. Since I have been imprisoned under conditions of solitary confinement on an island for the last 14 years, it is difficult to see how I can be credibly described as a source of fear for anyone except perhaps my captors.

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Ocalan’s tribute to Nelson Mandela: “A shining star that enlightened the peoples of Africa”

Below we reproduce a statement by Abdullah Ocalan on the death of Nelson Mandela

 

The tears that are being shed worldwide for Nelson Mandela today, the stories that are being shared about him and the wisdom that he bequeathed to all other freedom movements shows us what an outstanding individual he was.

The history of the peoples of the world is mostly shaped through the callous insolence of those trying to hold the masses in their grip. This insolence at times appears because the whole world sees this oppression but turns a blind eye to it, at times through the evil of totalitarianism and the banality by which it is fed. While the perpetrators of evil constantly bow their knees in shame and beg forgiveness or become a dark chapter in the book of history, the struggle against the banality of evil and rising totalitarianism appears in the only thing soaking all the soils of the world at the same time: the tears of the oppressed human being.

Mandela and the struggle for democracy and freedom that he pioneered are the very basis of what defines the concept of struggle for those who have adopted the principle of free and equal life. We cannot talk about people like Mandela in terms of the past. For individuals who have won their place in the hearts of the peoples such as he did bear the fate of playing the role of Prometheus. Neither the day they decide to carry the fire nor the way they carry it is coincidental. It is a struggle to honourably oppose the destruction caused by the capitalist modernist system which the rulers impose in the course of history.

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