On the 25th anniversary of the abduction of Abdullah Ocalan

Peace in Kurdistan insists that we turn this anniversary into the start of renewed efforts for peace beginning with the release of Abdullah Ocalan.

Every day that Ocalan remains in prison is an indictment of the Turkish state but also of its allies who have colluded with this historic injustice imposed on Ocalan himself as an individual human being and on the Kurds as a people who strongly identify with him and uphold him as their national leader.

After twenty five years of detention, support for Ocalan has shown itself to be consistently strong and has never seriously diminished despite concerted attempts, indeed through use of brute force, to separate the people from their leader.

To the Kurds, Ocalan has long represented their hope that there is a route towards liberation. He is a light that cannot be snuffed out despite all the numerous oppressive measures taken by Turkey and those who collaborate with it.

Ocalan’s mistreatment is a stark testimony to the truism that justice is never handed out as a gift. If history teaches anything, it is that justice and popular rights have to be fought for every step of the way and that every gain won has to be wrested from the grip of the powerful otherwise nothing will be changed. That is why actions on all levels need to be stepped up with maximum effort to force the release of Abdullah Ocalan, who has become one of the longest serving political prisoners in modern history.

Every day that the Kurdish leader remains in prison is a day too long. This anniversary marks 25 years since Abdullah Ocalan’s abduction and this terrible landmark must become the start of renewed efforts to obtain his freedom.

It is to the utter shame of the international powers, including the entire West, the United States and the European Union most of all, that Ocalan remains behind bars and that little tangible action has been undertaken to ensure his release by exerting pressure on Turkey, even after all these years.

Despite the glaring injustice of his case, those states with the power available to them through their positions of influence and their strategic alliances, have stubbornly refused to act, expecting, one assumes, that public memory of Ocalan will wane, and that his support base will be eroded. This has not occurred and those who define themselves as part of the social movement that his political arguments and leadership have inspired, continue to grow in strength and numbers. As such, despite the passing of this quarter of a century, Abdullah Ocalan steadfastly continues to represent hope for millions of Kurdish people and others who enthusiastically express support and solidarity with him.

The demands must be articulated more emphatically and through all possible openings where it should be insisted that Ocalan still offers the only real opportunity to achieve a lasting peace. It must be argued that it is only through a process of negotiations that an enduring agreement can be brokered between the Turkish state and the Kurdish people leading to a desired outcome where, irrespective of their Turkish or Kurdish identities, all people as citizens and human beings can equally enjoy the fruits of democracy and, in the long run, build a much stronger society and political system.

Peace in Kurdistan therefore renews its call for the release of Abdullah Ocalan and urges Turkey and its allies, within the UK, US and EU, to recognise that Ocalan offers the best way out of the impasse and the potential for a new beginning after decades of conflict, oppression, violence and injustice. Recognition of Ocalan’s historic significance remains the essential precondition for achievement of this lasting peace, and this is what we should all want to see secured within our own lifetimes and within Abdullah Ocalan’s lifetime.

15th February 2024


Peace in Kurdistan

Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question


Patrons: John Austin; Mike Arnott, President STUC; Baroness Blower of Starch Green, former GS NUT; Prof Bill Bowring; Mickey Brady, MP for Mid Ulster; Julie Christie; Noam Chomsky; Jeremy Corbyn MP;  Maggie Cook, UNISON women activist; Prof Mary Davis; Lord Dholakia; Simon Dubbins, UNITE International Director;  Dr Radha D’Souza, writer;  Desmond Fernandes; Lindsey German, Convenor STWC; Melanie Gingell; Christopher Gingell; Prof Dr. Michael Gunter, Secretary-General, EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC); Rahila Gupta author, journalist; Chris Hazzard Sinn Fein MP; Nick Hildyard, policy advisor;  Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru; George Katsiaficas, Greek-American historian and author; James Kelman, novelist; Baroness Helena Kennedy KC;  Jean Lambert, former MEP; Dr Les Levidow, Open University; Gawain Little, GFTU General Secretary; Elfyn Llwyd; John McDonnell MP; Mike Mansfield KC; David Morgan, journalist; Conor Murphy, Sinn Fein MLA; Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley; Dr. Jessica Ayesha Northey; Kate Osamor MP; Margaret Owen OBE; Ali Gul Ozbek, Former Councillor and Mayor of Haringey; Gareth Peirce; Dr Felix Padel, anthropologist;  Maxine Peake, actor; Dr Thomas Phillips, Liverpool John Moores University; Father Joe Ryan; Dr Thomas Schmidt, ELDH Europe; Bert Schouwenburg, International Trade Union Adviser; Roza Salih, Scottish politician; Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation; Stephen Smellie, PIK Trade Union Liaison Officer; Jonathan Steele, journalist; Chris Stephens SNP MP; Gianni Tognoni, General Secretary Permanent People’s Tribunal; Dr Federico Venturini, Associate Researcher, University of Udine, Italy; Dr Tom Wakeford; Dr Derek Wall; Julie Ward, former MEP; Frances Webber, former Vice-Chair of IRR and barrister; Kariane Westrheim, Chair, EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC); Hywel Williams MP.