Kurds and their friends have stood up with actions for 24 years

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  • 14:44 2 February 2023
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URFA - The actions that have continued uninterruptedly for 24 years against the international conspiracy against PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan continue today with the slogan "Freedom for Öcalan".
It has been 24 years since the international conspiracy on February 15, 1999 against PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan, who was held under severe isolation conditions in İmralı Type F High Security Prison and has not been heard from since March 25, 2021. In this process, actions and activities against the conspiracy continued uninterrupted; More than 100 people set their bodies on fire. Millions have always stood up with actions such as marches, petitions, hunger strikes and shuttering.
The first major action against the conspiracy was the “You Can't Darken Our Sun” protests. The protests, which started when Mehmet Halit Oral set his body on fire on the night of October 9 1998 in the prison where he was detained, spread all over the world. More than 100 people set his body on fire. Dozens of people died in the actions.
In 2019, Zülküf Gezen (March 17), Ayten Beçet (March 23), Zehra Sağlam (March 24), Medya Çınar (March 25), Yonca Akıcı (March 29), Siraç Yüksek (April 2), and Mahsum Pamay (April 5) ended their lives against the isolation in the prisons where they were detained. On March 22 of the same year, Uğur Şakar took his own life in Krefeld, Germany.
Bubo Taş (January 12) and Mehmet Akar (January 16) set fire to their bodies at the beginning of this year against the aggravated isolation for Öcalan.
The conspiracy marked the Newroz celebrations in 1999. Martial law practices were put into effect in many cities of Kurdistan. Despite this, the people in the cities of Turkey and Kurdistan, ignoring the bans, protested the conspiracy against Öcalan. In every March 21 celebration after the 2000s, anger at the plot against Öcalan was great. The basic demand of the millions filling the fields was Öcalan's physical freedom.
The "Campaign for Claiming and Defending the Leadership" was launched on December 10, 2001 in prisons. As part of the campaign, the prisoners went on alternating hunger strikes and carried out actions such as not going to the infirmary or going to the infirmary. The campaign that started in prisons soon spread to the cities of Kurdistan. Large marches were also held in Turkish and European cities. Kurdish institutions and organizations submitted files to non-governmental organizations regarding the conspiracy. This campaign continued until February 15, 2003.
The "Freedom for Öcalan" campaign was launched in 2004. The Independent Youth Movement (BAGEH) spearheaded the campaign. Hundreds of thousands of signatures collected within the scope of the campaign were delivered to the Parliament. In the petitions, it was demanded that Öcalan be accepted as the "People's Leader".
Another widely attended campaign was the campaign launched under the name "Freedom to Leadership Campaign". Between February 1 and May 1, 2004, committees were formed in each province and said: "Abdullah Öcalan is the leader of the Kurdish people. Peace can only develop with him. We are Öcalan, and Öcalan is the people. Our will is imprisoned. Without our will, we have no meaning. We want to regain our will." 3 thousand 500 in Merdîn, 3 thousand 600 in Nusaybin, 11 thousand 180 in Batman, 30 thousand 600 in Diyarbakır, 6 thousand 500 in Van, 951 in Ağrı, 8 thousand 600 in Adana, France 1,500 petitions were submitted in Istanbul, 6 thousand 85 in Silopi, 2 thousand in Hakkari, 11 thousand 541 in Bismil, 7 thousand 867 in Silvan, 10 thousand 17 petitions in Kop. Investigations and lawsuits have been filed against a large part of the petitioners. The prisoners also applied to be taken to Öcalan.
In order to celebrate Öcalan's birthday, April 4, marches were launched in 2004 under the leadership of the Federation of Families of Prisoners and Convicts (TUHAD-FED). On Öcalan's birthday, hundreds of thousands of people turned to Amara. Mahsum Karaoglan and Mustafa Dag were killed in the 2009 march despite the obstacles and attacks. Öcalan's physical freedom was shouted at the marches and activities held in the following years.
On December 31, 2004, TUHAD-FED sent New Year's cards to 550 MPs to close the İmralı High Security Closed Prison, where Öcalan was held, on the occasion of the New Year.
Between July 2005 and May 2006, a new campaign was organized by the Free Citizens' Movement under the name "Öcalan is my Political Will Campaign". 3 million 243 thousand signatures were collected from people within the scope of this campaign and said: "As a Kurd, I see and accept Abdullah Öcalan as a political will in Kurdistan." Hundreds of people were detained during the campaign. The collected signatures were announced to the public at a meeting held in Ankara Dedeman Hotel on October 20, 2006.
On September 4, 2005, the Gemlik March was held against the isolation imposed on Öcalan. After the march of thousands of people from different cities was stopped by soldiers and police in the İnegöl district of Bursa, a sit-in protest was started. Faced with obstacles, the marching convoy was subjected to attacks and lynching attempts in many places. Many people were injured in the attacks.
Gemlik Marches continued in the following processes. Under the leadership of DÖKH, women held a sit-in protest in Gemlik, Bursa, within the scope of the campaign "Freedom for Öcalan, end the political genocide" in 2012.
On October 9, 2011, the 13th anniversary of the conspiracy, the second "Gemlik Marches" were launched under the leadership of TUHAD-FED. The march, which was held with the motto "Freedom for Öcalan", was aimed at the participation of 100 thousand people. Thousands of people took action with hundreds of buses and many private vehicles from Turkey and Kurdistan. Walks were blocked at moving points in some cities, and on road routes in some places.
On June 12, 2022, a new "Gemlik March" was started with the slogan "We defend freedom against isolation". While statements were made to go to Gemlik from many cities, many vehicles were tied up along the way and hundreds of people were detained. While going to Gemlik was not allowed, Öcalan's freedom was shouted in all the streets in Istanbul Kadıköy.
On February 6 of this year, due to the 24th anniversary of the international conspiracy against the PKK Leader, a two-pronged march to Gemlik will be launched with the slogan "We are marching to Imrali for a solution".
Peace Mothers held a demonstration in Diyarbakır on February 23, 2006, by tying their hands together with chains to protest the isolation against Öcalan.
Öcalan's lawyers announced at a press conference in Rome on March 1, 2007 that their clients were systematically poisoned. Every place where Kurds live turned into a place of action after the statement. Hundreds of thousands of people started a new campaign with the slogan "The health of Öcalan is our health". The protests also spread to European cities. The Kurds, who did not receive a response, then started an indefinite and non-rotating hunger strike.
On April 11, 2007, 18 people started an indefinite hunger strike in Strasbourg, France. The hunger strike ended on the 39th day after Öcalan sent the message "Resist by living" to the protesters.
Feleknas Uca, Member of the European Parliament at the time, and 7 MPs launched a petition demanding that Öcalan be checked by an independent committee. The 103,417 signatures collected a week later were handed over to the Secretary of the CPT Board of Directors on May 11, 2007. The campaign also attracted great interest in Turkey. Rotating hunger strikes were held in Batman, Diyarbakır, Bazîd, Şırnak and Istanbul. These actions achieved their goals both in Europe and in Turkey. A delegation from the CPT went to İmralı and examined Öcalan's conditions.
Hundreds of people from many provinces and districts sent letters to the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission, the Council of Europe (EC) Human Rights Commission and the European Torture Monitoring Commission(CPT) within the scope of the campaign, which started in Diyarbakır on December 15, 2007 and started with 900 letters demanding the improvement of Öcalan's health conditions. In 2007, the Democratic Society Party (DTP) organized rallies that reached hundreds of thousands in the cities of the region, and said: "Enough is enough, we want an honorable life". Hundreds of thousands gathered at the rally shouted their demands for freedom for Öcalan.
The delegation formed by 715 non-governmental organizations in the region for the solution of the Kurdish issue requested an appointment from the Ministry of Justice to meet with Öcalan on November 30, 2011.
As part of the "The Freedom of Öcalan" campaign carried out by the Democratic Free Women's Movement (DÖKH), a march was started in Ankara on September 19, 2011 with the slogan "The war should be ended and peace should be come this geography". The 100,000 signatures collected for Öcalan were presented to the Parliament.
On September 12, 2012, prisoners in prisons went on a hunger strike to ensure Öcalan's health, security and freedom conditions. The action was ended on the 68th day, upon the message from Öcalan, that the action reached its goal.
The worldwide campaign “Freedom for Öcalan” was launched on September 6, 2012 with the Freedom for Öcalan, Peace for Kurdistan Initiative organization. More than 10 million signatures were collected within the scope of the campaign, which was started in Brussels, the capital of Belgium.
The inability to hear from Öcalan after the military uprising on July 15, 2016 and the allegations made about his life caused intense public concern. "Freedom for Öcalan" sit-in actions were launched in many cities and districts such as Diyarbakır, Adana, Urfa, and Hatay. Numerous actions, protests, marches and statements were made during this period, including in prisons due to the lack of news from Öcalan.
In September 2016, an indefinite and nonrotating hunger strike was launched in Diyarbakır with the participation of 50 volunteers, led by DTK, HDK, KJA, DBP and HDP, demanding a meeting with Öcalan.
On November 8, 2018, a hunger strike was launched under the leadership of Democratic Society Congress (DTK) Co-chair Leyla Güven demanding the end of the isolation of Öcalan. Thousands of prisoners were involved in the strike. The strike ended on the 200th day after Öcalan's consultation with a lawyer and the message received.
The prisoners started a new indefinite alternating hunger strike on November 27, 2020, demanding the end of the isolation of Öcalan. Those staying in Lavrio Camp and Makhmur Camp in Greece also supported the action, which was attended by more than 2,000 prisoners in 107 prisons. The hunger strike of the prisoners, which lasted for 290 days, ended on September 12, 2021.
The Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD) launched a petition with 768 lawyers and jurists to end the isolation of Öcalan on May 25, 2021. A call was made to pave the way for Öcalan to meet with his lawyers within the scope of the campaign.
The "Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan Sit-in" actions were launched on June 25, 2012 in the square where the Council of Europe (EC), European Parliament (EP), European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and CPT buildings are located in Strasbourg, France. The action, which took place between 08.30 and 17.00 7 days a week, continued with the participation of various segments. The main demand of the action was to end the isolation on Öcalan and ensure his freedom. The action is still ongoing.
International campaigns for Öcalan have increased in recent years. In 2015, Öcalan was granted honorary citizenship in Palermo, Italy. After Palermo, Naples granted honorary citizenship to Öcalan as part of solidarity with the Kurdish people.
Britain's largest unions Unite The Union and GMB launched the "Freedom for Öcalan" campaign in April 2016.
On September 20, 2016, members of the International Imrali Delegation, including Nelson Mandela's lawyer Essa Mossa, requested the CPT to visit Imrali immediately.
On September 21 of the same year, an action led by the European Kurdish Women's Movement (TJK-E) was launched in front of the EP building in Brussels, the capital of Belgium. Hundreds of women gathered in front of the EP and demanded freedom for Öcalan in the action organized with the slogan "Women are in action for his leadership and freedom".
The South African Kurdish Working Group (KHRAG) and the South African Trade Union Confederation (COSATU) launched a campaign on January 11, 2021 with the slogan "The Time Has Come: Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan for a just peace in Turkey". As part of the campaign aimed at mobilizing the United Nations (UN), thousands of letters and e-mails were sent to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling for "Turkish state should act immediately" for Öcalan in many European countries and cities.
A few days later, the European Union of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights (ELDH), the New World Summit and the International Alliance for the Defense of Rights and Freedoms (AIDL) joined this initiative, which was started from South Africa. Later, the Ghanaian ACCP (Alliance Creative Community Project) joined the campaign by sending a letter to the UN. In Finland, the Leftist Youth Movement (Vasemmisonuorte) also announced its participation in the campaign.
A sit-in was started on January 25, 2021, in front of the UN office in Geneva, Switzerland. Activists gather every Wednesday.
On February 15, 2021, more than a hundred world-renowned artists, journalists and writers published a declaration titled "Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan". Names, including journalist writer Janet Biehl, sound artist and children's book writer Leon Rosselson, musician and writer David Rovis, screenwriter Atiha Sen Gupta, graffiti Jonathan Chadwick, said, “It has been more than 20 years and now Abdullah Öcalan's freedom has passed.”
More than 40 academics, artists, politicians, writers and women's rights activists from Latin America, Spain, England, France and Italy, were held in Athens, the capital of Greece, on November 9, 2021 with the organization of the Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan Initiative. He left by ship. The ship anchored in Naples, Italy, on the anniversary of Öcalan's departure to Rome on November 12, 1999.
Due to the inability to hear from Öcalan and Ömer Hayri Konar, Veysi Aktaş and Hamili Yıldırım, who were held in İmralı Prison, applications were made to many international law organizations, especially the CPT. HDP Co-Chairs Pervin Buldan and Mithat Sancar, DBP Co-Chair Saliha Aydeniz, HDP MPs, Asrın Law Office, ÖHD Branches, bar associations, hundreds of lawyers from Europe and the Middle East were among the applicants. The number of lawyers who applied has exceeded 1,888.
The year 2023 started with the campaigns for PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan. Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) MPs started a Justice Watch in front of the Parliament, demanding that PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan meet with his lawyers.
MA / Müjdat Can
Tomorrow: Isolation deepens

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