June 19th 2015

Ocalan flagAbdullah Ocalan, imprisoned Kurdish leader, will be granted honorary life membership of the USSA at a ceremony on Saturday 20 June at the University of Strathclyde Students Association in Vertigo at 5pm.

Joining the students at the ceremony will be award winning prominent Scottish writer and cultural and political campaigner James Kelman and Reimer Heider, spokesperson of the International Initiative “Freedom for Ocalan-Peace in Kurdistan”.


James Kelman said “It is a great thing that the students of Strathclyde University should honour Abdullah Ocalan in this way. The people of Kurdistan have been struggling for decades for the right to determine their own existence. This honour recognises the justice of the struggle. From Scotland the message is one of support and solidarity. Let the politicians heed the students.”


The student association decided to confer this award to Abdullah Ocalan, the founder and leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), for his fight for freedom, justice and self-determination of the Kurdish people, for which he has been imprisoned by the Turkish state since 1999.

Ocalan has redefined the historic struggle of the Kurds as one of achieving democratic autonomy and called for dialogue between the PKK and Turkey with the aim of replacing armed conflict with democracy and reconciliation, continuing his life long fight for freedom, equality between peoples and recognition for the Kurds. [1]

USSA confers on him the highest honour of Honorary Life- Membership in recognition of his contribution towards contemporary Kurdish politics and in reshaping the wider political landscape of Turkey and the Middle East. Just like in South Africa, the Turkish government could not help recognise that Ocalan is a true, respected leader of his people. Internal and external necessities forced the government into talks with him. These talks have been going on for a while now.

Previous recipients of an Honorary Lifetime Membership of USSA include Nelson Mandela when he was imprisoned in South Africa

From prison he has written extensively on the history of the Kurds and on the need for a democratic and peaceful solution. The success of the pro-Kurdish HDP in the recent Turkish General Election owes a great deal to the example and inspiration of Mr. Ocalan.
Accepting the award on behalf of Mr Ocalan will Reimer Heider, spokesperson of the International Initiative “Freedom for Ocalan-Peace in Kurdistan” who has translated several books by Abdullah Ocalan.
Joining the award ceremony on 20 June will be the renowned Scottish writer James Kelman, winner of many awards, friend of the Kurds and supporter of the Kurdish resistance struggle since the 90s.

Roza Salih, USSA Vice President Diversity and Advocacy, said

“I am really pleased that USSA is recognising the struggle of Abdullah Ocalan by giving him a life honorary membership. Mr Ocalan deserves this award: he wants democracy for the Kurds and wants the Kurdish ethnicity to be recognised with people living in an equal society based on human rights.”


For more information please contact:

Roza Salih, USSA Vice President Diversity and Advocacy-
ussa.vpda@strath.ac.uk 0141 567 5028


Roza Salih and Reimer Heider will be available for interview on Friday 19th and Saturday 20th June. Please contact Roza to make arrangements.


Who is Abdullah Ocalan

Abdullah Ocalan – Resources/books

Ocalan: On my thesis of the Democratic Nation Resolution 

Free Ocalan Campaign

Freedom for Ocalan