The Kurdish Freedom March, which began outside the UN High Commission for Refugees in Geneva last week, has reached Basel on Day 9 of the long journey to the EU Parliament in Strasbourg. Below you can read an update of the last few days, and the messages of support that have been received from European members of Parliament:

“From the UN to the EU

The march that started in Geneva under the slogan of “Freedom for Ocalan, Political Status for Kurdish People” has reached Nyon. It is worth seeing the enthusiasm of the Kurdish people even in colds of -3 degrees.   

The “Freedom for Ocalan, Political Status for Kurdish People” march got under way on the 1st of February under the call of the Federation of Kurdish Associations in Europe (KON-KURD). Kurds from all across Europe poured into Geneva. Kurds came to Geneva where they met in front of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees for a press release.

In the statement it was declared that “Today, here, all four parts of Kurdistan are taking part in this march”. The statement went on “the Turkish state is carrying out dirty negotiations in order to damage the freedom movement and through this is attempting to eliminate the Kurdish people’s struggle. Today, we are here to show that we will not allow any such attempt to succeed. This is a historical step towards the freedom of our people and our leader”.

The demand for participation is high
According to information from the organizing committee there are over a hundred voluntary participants ranging from politicians, writers, artists and intellectuals that will participate in the march from start to finish. At the same time there are hundreds of people that have applied to partially take part in the march.

The march included writers Aslı Erdoğan, Suzan Samancı, Mustafa Peköz, Günay Aslan. Politicians Ahmedi Kemalizade, Felaknas Uca, Mahir Sayın, Mele Şafi, Ahmet Demir, Cemil Çelik, and artists Şemdin, Seyitxan, Cane, Kawa and Ozan Çağdaş.

The march has arrived in Nyon

The march left Place de Neuve at 8am destined for Nyon. Towards 3pm the march had reached Nyon where they stayed the night. The next morning the march had once again started their journey to Morges. Despite the very cold weather the marchers are in high spirits as they shout slogans and demands for the freedom of Ocalan. At certain intervals the marchers are served with tea and coffee to help keep warm. It is not just the cold that is making this march difficult; at some points during the march there is no path to walk on so the marchers are forced to walk through muddy fields. Four marchers have so far been taken to medical centers to be treated after which they have returned to take part in the march. There are friends of the Kurdish Freedom Movement that are also taking part in this march. Five members of MLKP will be with the march from start to finish.

On the 3rd of February at the end of the march from Morges to Lausanne a big demonstration took place. Kurds living in Lausanne had greeted the marchers.

A reply to Lausanne

The Kurds marched to the city of Lausanne where Kurdistan was originally divided among four countries in an agreement made on the 24th of July, 1923. Again the marchers were greeted by local Kurds with banners demanding the freedom of Ocalan. The Kurds had gathered in front of the very building that the agreement had been signed, Place de Rumine. Swiss politicians were also present at the gathering to support the march.

Member of Parliament Vouruz: We must show respect

Federal Parliament MP Social Democrat Erick Vouruz stated “I admire your march in these horrific conditions. This struggle of the Kurds shows they have won their freedom, all we have to do is to respect it.”

I saw the same enthusiasm in Amed

MP for the Canton of Lausanne Nicola Roche stated that she had been in Amed as an observer for the 2011 general elections. She said “the enthusiasm of the Kurds in Amed and the Kurds here today were very similar. Your belief and the belief of the Kurds of Amed complete each other. We will not leave you until Strasbour.”

Europe’s human rights ethos is being tested

Social Democrat MP in Federal Parliament Jofiame Oubert stated her disgust towards the European states and Turkey. She said “whilst Turkey is continuing its terrible policies towards the Kurdish people, in Europe a very silent policy against the Kurds is evident. The latest example of this was the case of Roj TV. However, your stance here today will force Europe in to a test of its approach towards universal human rights.

Demonstration in Bern

Once the march had reached Bern, the weekend was filled with meetings, panels and demonstrations. On Saturday a demonstration was organized in temperatures of -10. The leader of the Swiss Green party and Member of Federal Parliament Ueli Lovenberger and the spokesperson of the Social Democrat Party and Member of Federal Parliament Margreth Schar each made a speech at the demonstration. After the demonstration the marchers walked towards Burgdorf. In Bern another ten participants joined the march taking the total number to 230.”