Since his abduction in an international NATO-orchestrated operation from Nairobi, Kenya on 15 February 1999 and his subsequent imprisonment on Imrali Island, the significance of Abdullah Ocalan, co-founder and leader of the Kurdish freedom movement, has only grown. From his lonely prison cell, under harsh and illegal conditions of near-absolute isolation, Ocalan authored a series of defence documents that constitute nothing less than a sweeping rejoinder and re-examination of the history of human civilisation, for the purposes of situating our present juncture into historical context, and developing a path forward for the Kurdish movement to advance their struggle for self-determination and for humanity as a whole to lead itself out of the present crisis. The program which emerged from this effort, known as ‘democratic confederalism’, is based on the self-organisation, self-defence, and peaceful co-existence of peoples, and is established on the pillars of grassroots democracy, women’s liberation, and ecological sustainability.
This program has since been adopted and implemented by the Kurdish freedom movement, and has demonstrated across the four parts of Kurdistan its capacity to serve as an alternative to the present administrative techniques of state and capital that allows people to collectively resolve their own problems and govern themselves, perhaps nowhere more substantially than in the autonomous region of North and East Syria, commonly known as ‘Rojava’, where the ethnically and religiously diverse population of the region have managed to use the ideas of Abdullah Ocalan to develop a system to provide for the security, organisation, and free self-expression of peoples amidst the almost unfathomably difficult circumstances of the Syrian civil war, international embargo, and invasion and occupation by both ISIS and the Turkish state. In the process, Ocalan’s ideas and the struggle of the people of the region have inspired millions around the globe, providing tangible evidence that another world is possible.
For more than two decades, Abdullah Ocalan has been an unwavering voice for dignified peace in the region, having been the architect of a roadmap for a peaceful resolution of the long-standing conflict between the Kurdish freedom movement and the Turkish state, and the primary facilitator between the two parties in dialogues for a peace process that took place between 2013 and 2015 in Imrali Island prison, efforts which earned him a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013. Tragically, this process collapsed in 2015, ushering in a return to violence and repression, as Turkey began its descent into the authoritarian dictatorship we observe today.
Following the collapse of the peace talks, the aggravated isolation of Ocalan was resumed. Ocalan has not been allowed to communicate with his lawyers for more than a decade, save for a small window in 2019 that was opened by the immense pressure generated by a world-wide hunger strike of more than 10,000 people demanding an end to the isolation of Ocalan. There has been no contact with Ocalan and no update whatsoever on his condition since 25 March 2021, when he was granted a five-minute phone call with his brother Mehmet, leaving many concerned about his health and well-being.
It is difficult to overstate the significance of Abdullah Ocalan; it has been demonstrated in the last 20 years that he is the only person offering a substantial alternative to the current situation that has the potential to resolve and move beyond the deeply entrenched problematics responsible for the present crisis and bloodshed, opening up a horizon for peace in each of the four countries in which the Kurds reside, and consequently for the entire Middle East region as a whole. Moreover, it has been demonstrated that he is the only one with the capacity to actually realise such a peace process in the region on behalf of the Kurdish people, provided the governments and peoples of the region are willing to engage in sincere dialogue.
The approach of the Turkish state at the present time is to try to eliminate the Kurdish ‘problem’ by violence and assimilation, on the basis of the basis of a contorted Turkish nationalism and Islamic religionism, in their quest to become a regional power in a shifting world order. This is an approach doomed to failure, but not before great violence and devastation is wreaked upon the region as a whole. This is why freedom for Abdullah Ocalan today is imperative, for it signifies the possibility of peace, freedom, democracy and reconciliation of peoples in a time when global forces are pushing us in the opposing direction.
In this light, the Kurdish freedom movement has announced a new worldwide campaign for freedom for Ocalan, under the heading “The Time for Freedom is Now – Freedom Shall Prevail”. The Kurdistan Digital Media Council – a recently-formed initiative of Kurdish people and their friends from the four parts of Kurdistan and around the world dedicated to utilizing a diversity of media outlets to connect the Kurdish freedom movement with the struggles of peoples across the globe in our collective search for peace, freedom and democracy – has announced a new hashtag campaign for freedom for Ocalan. This mass hashtag action is scheduled for 18:00 BST on 08 October 2021, one day before the 23rd anniversary of the international plot to exile Ocalan from Syria, setting in motion Ocalan’s odyssey across Europe and Africa that eventually led to his abduction on 15 February 1999. The efforts for this campaign will be focused primarily on Twitter, and the specific hashtags will be announced on the pages of the Kurdistan Digital Media Council, which can be found below, and in the pdf further down, which is the declaration appeal of the hashtag campaign from the Kurdistan Digital Media Council. We urge all of our friends and supporters to do what they can to spread the word and participate in this action, helping us to realise freedom for Abdullah Ocalan and freedom and peaceful co-existence for the peoples of the world.
Kurdistan Digital Media Council details:
Email: [email protected]
The appeal from the Kurdistan Digital Media Council can be downloaded as a pdf here: https://www.peaceinkurdistancampaign.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/tempo-english-1.pdftempo-english (1)