Against the background of the threat to the northern Syrian city of Kobane from the Islamic State (IS), this documentary depicts the changing public perception of Abdullah Öcalan from terrorist to “voice of peace”, the conflict over the independence of the Kurds and calls for a solution to the Kurdish question, without which the region would be further destabilised.

Made in 2014.

The struggles of the Kurdish forces of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) against the advance of the Islamic State (IS) brought the northern Syrian city of Kobane into the public eye. Kobane became a symbol of the future of the Kurdish population in Turkey and Syria. From his cell on the island of Imrali, the PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been imprisoned there since 1999, warned Turkey that if Kobane fell into the hands of IS, the peace process would be over. This attempt at dialogue between Öcalan and Ankara was the most extensive so far.

Since the end of the First World War, around 40 million Kurds in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran have been fighting for autonomy and the right to cultivate their language and culture. At that time the Kurds had been promised their own state. This promise was never kept, so the Kurds are today the largest people on earth without their own state. The struggle for cultural identity became radicalized in 1978 when the PKK was founded. Five years later, the party declared war on the Turkish state. Over 40,000 people died in the conflict over the next 30 years, and Abdullah Öcalan became a symbol of the Kurdish guerrillas.

The documentary describes this dispute based on Öcalan’s public perception, from enemy number 1 of Turkey to the “voice of peace”, as the US magazine TIME called Öcalan. Turkey can no longer avoid settling the Kurdish question without risking further destabilisation of the entire region.