We have been just informed that the Arab translation of book that we co-edited, Your Freedom and Mine: Abdullah Öcalan and the Kurdish Question in Erdoğan’s Turkey, has been confiscated by the administration of Düsseldorf Airport while on transit in Germany and the owner is facing a criminal investigation.

The authorities have justified their decision by saying that they have submitted the book to be checked by a committee after seeing Öcalan’s picture on the cover in order to find out if the content is in order and complies with the law. So far we have not received any feedback from the airport and we do not know when the book will be “released”.

Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdish Freedom Movement imprisoned since 1999 on İmralı island, has proposed a political solution to the interminable Turkish-Kurdish conflict, leading many to describe him as the “Kurdish Mandela.” An international peace delegation of European luminaries led by Mandela’s lawyer twice attempted to meet with Öcalan at his prison. This book is the fruit of these momentous delegations. Your Freedom and Mine offers crucial insight into the dramatic history, reality, and prospects of the Kurdish Question in Turkey by combining historical survey, human rights reports, interviews, personal accounts, geopolitical analysis, and political philosophy. The volume is the remarkable work of many contributors, including politicians, academics, journalists, and key leaders inside the peace movement. Contributors featured in the book include Ögmundur Jónasson (Iceland’s former minister of justice), Miren Gorrotxategi (Senator of the Spanish Parliament), Andrej Hunko (member of the German Bundesdag), Ulla Sandbæk (Danish Member of the European Parliament), Julie Ward (English member of the European Parliament) and Francis Wurtz (French Member of the European Parliament).

Banning a book is a reminder of a dark past in Europe long thought gone. Several independent non-governmental organisations like Freedom House, Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International have been warning about censorship and the lack of freedom of expression in Turkey, coupled with the constant arrests of journalist and politicians.

We cannot accept the same treatment in Germany, regarded as one of the standard bearers of democracy. The book has been already published in several languages (English, Italian, Portuguese and Arabic), and it has also been presented in official venues such as the European parliament in Brussels and has never received similar outrageous treatment.

We demand:

  • end of any criminal proceedings regarding the book;
  • the immediate release of the book;
  • delisting the PKK from the EU terrorist list,
  • end of military sales to Turkey.

 

Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, University of Cambridge (UK)

Thomas Miley [email protected]

Dr Federico venturini, University of Udine (Italy)

Fede Venturini [email protected]

 

4 January 2021