Father Joe Ryan joined the Freedom for Ocalan Initiative Committee on their first rally, on the week of the launch of the international campaign to demand freedom for the imprisoned Kurdish leader and all political prisoners in Turkey. The international campaign will be launched in Brussels with a press conference this Thursday, 6 September. Already over 1000 prominent people – politicians, political commentators, writers, Nobel Prize winners, and many more – have signed a petition to express their solidarity with the new campaign. Father Joe Ryan’s message to the campaign is below:

1st September 2012


Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party has been in prison since 1999.

He is still the significant leader of the Kurdish campaign for peace, justice and a key player in bringing about an end to the on-going conflict between Turkey and Kurdistan.

As Catholic priest and Chair of the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission, I would wish to add my support and solidarity to this campaign – FREE ABDULLAH OCALAN AND THE POLITICAL PRISONERS IN TURKEY.

I have already signed the petition, as have 1000 other people.

I have attended the Trial of 151 political prisoners in Diyarbakir – they are still in prison. This is not right or just.

Most of those in prison are upright Citizens – they happen to be Kurdish but were successful on local elections or were Human Rights’ Activists, or journalists who were critical of Turkish oppression.

I wish to add my voice to your RALLY. I do hope that leaders are listening and taking heed of our requests.

If Abdullah Ocalan and other political prisoners are released, then there is a future for PEACE, otherwise fuel is being added to an already fragile situation.

I am here in solidarity with you on this campaign… I wish you well.

Joe Ryan

Solidatity message presented 1st Sept 2012 at Trafalgar Square