Ocalan: My real role in Kurds’ struggle for freedom

Originally published in the Guardian:

The Guardian, Monday 20 January 2014 21.00 GMT

I am writing in response to an editorial published in your newspaper on the occasion of Nelson Mandela’s death (5 December). The article drew comparisons between Mandela, Nehru, Aung Sang Suu Kyi and me. Such comparisons belying a hegemonic mindset demonstrate a lack of understanding of the reality of those faced with struggling for freedom.

In describing me as “feared and worshipped”, I detect hostility towards those who are forced to rely on their self-belief in their struggle against slavery, massacres and policies of denial. Since I have been imprisoned under conditions of solitary confinement on an island for the last 14 years, it is difficult to see how I can be credibly described as a source of fear for anyone except perhaps my captors.

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Ocalan’s tribute to Nelson Mandela: “A shining star that enlightened the peoples of Africa”

Below we reproduce a statement by Abdullah Ocalan on the death of Nelson Mandela


The tears that are being shed worldwide for Nelson Mandela today, the stories that are being shared about him and the wisdom that he bequeathed to all other freedom movements shows us what an outstanding individual he was.

The history of the peoples of the world is mostly shaped through the callous insolence of those trying to hold the masses in their grip. This insolence at times appears because the whole world sees this oppression but turns a blind eye to it, at times through the evil of totalitarianism and the banality by which it is fed. While the perpetrators of evil constantly bow their knees in shame and beg forgiveness or become a dark chapter in the book of history, the struggle against the banality of evil and rising totalitarianism appears in the only thing soaking all the soils of the world at the same time: the tears of the oppressed human being.

Mandela and the struggle for democracy and freedom that he pioneered are the very basis of what defines the concept of struggle for those who have adopted the principle of free and equal life. We cannot talk about people like Mandela in terms of the past. For individuals who have won their place in the hearts of the peoples such as he did bear the fate of playing the role of Prometheus. Neither the day they decide to carry the fire nor the way they carry it is coincidental. It is a struggle to honourably oppose the destruction caused by the capitalist modernist system which the rulers impose in the course of history.

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