For Abdullah Öcalan! For the Kurdish Freedom Struggle!

For Abdullah Öcalan! For the Kurdish Freedom Struggle!


 “Throughout the centuries, since the earliest times and in every established civilisation across the world, artists, writers and creative workers have placed themselves at the forefront of the struggle for human liberation.” Artists’ Declaration for Ocalan’s Freedom, February 15, 2021


February 15 marks the 22nd year since the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan was violently abducted by Turkish commandos while seeking refuge from the Greek Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya…


Since that time he has been held almost in complete isolation on the Turkish prison island of İmralı in the Sea of Marmara…a prison emptied of its approximately 1,000 inmates at the time to house Mr. Öcalan along with his 1,000 military guards …


Sentenced to death in 2002, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment when Turkey abolished capital punishment as part of its quest for European Community membership.  In 2009, after years of protest internationally concerning the conditions of his incarceration, Turkey build a new prison on the island and transferred a small number of other political prisoners there, albeit with limited weekly contact with the leader and now philosopher and theoretician of the Kurdish struggle.


This year, 2021, Peace in Kurdistan, the campaign for a political solution to the Kurdish question and Global Rights have organised the Artists Declaration for Ocalan’s Freedom to be launched on February 14.


“As creative artists we understand the absolute necessity of freedom and what it means for the human spirit. Freedom nurtures life and sustains human creativity. Freedom is a living principle that connects all humanity. It is a basic requirement of our existence, one that is as essential as food, water, shelter and rest. Like a flower needs the light of the sun, humanity needs freedom. To deny it is to shut out the light and stifle life.”


In their press release Peace in Kurdistan say:


“After over two decades, it is time that Ocalan was freed from prison and the declaration is aimed at making its own contribution to this cause.”


February 15 is thus a day when cultural workers, artists, writers, musicians, activists and people the world over – who value freedom and justice – may remember the situation of the Kurdish people who have for too long not only been denied recognition of their basic rights, even to their own language, culture and identity, but to a life free from the violence and cruelty of war and oppression.


This ongoing injustice inflicted on the Kurdish people has found its focus in the cruel imprisonment of the recognised leader of a significant element of the Kurdish Liberation Movement.


The Declaration also stands as a light in what is becoming an increasingly commodified darkness, stating clearly that cultural work (or “art” as it is usually called) does not exist as a privileged oasis of peace in an environment of poverty and war…


…but rather walks hand in hand with the liberation struggle of humanity against all forms of tyranny, cruelty and darkness.


In this Declaration, the voice of poets, painters, photographers, writers, musicians, dancers, directors, playwrights, novelists, comedians and more – along with the rest and the best of humankind – all linked in what Global Rights calls “A Culture of Liberation” –  calls for a world with freedom and justice for all…


Like a flower needs the light of the sun, humanity needs freedom. To deny it is to shut out the light and stifle life…”


…and an end to the darkness and cruelty we have accepted for far too long as “business as usual”…


The liberation struggle thus belongs, not only to the Kurds or to the many other marginalised and oppressed peoples on our small overcrowded planet but to all humans that are concerned about our future and the type of world and planet we want to live on…


February 15 is thus  an opportunity for us to stop and catch our breath for a moment, remembering all the suffering – whether it is the prisoners protesting on hunger strike, the countless thousands surviving precariously in refugee camps as a result of war, or those engaged in all forms of struggle – in all the separated parts of a historical Kurdistan and all over the world, for a better world…


The Declaration will be launched on the 14 February – with over a hundred names – (both well-known and not-so-well-known)  – of writers, artists, cultural workers who see clearly that the ongoing imprisonment of Abdullah Öcalan shows that Turkey (along with many of its powerful NATO allies) see human rights and peace as mere words while their own people continue to suffer…and our world becomes more unstable day by day.


It is time for Turkey to release Abdullah Öcalan. It is time for Peace to be put back on the agenda. In Turkey as well as in a free and democratic Syria.


We all hope that this message will somehow find its way to the Kurdish leader in his isolation on İmralı and to all those currently under siege in all parts of a divided Kurdistan…


…as well as contribute to letting the world know that the struggles of the Kurds have not been forgotten…and will continue…until there is justice for all.


Abdullah Ocalan has served his time and deserves his freedom. He has clearly demonstrated that he is a responsible political leader of his people and has shown that his word can be trusted. It is time for him to be given his freedom.”   


So says the Artists’ Declaration for Ocalan’s Freedom, February 15, 2021.


séamas carraher


Image: A flag, Abudllah Ocalan at a Pro-Kurdish rally in Brussels, Belgium

By Jan Maximilian Gerlach, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons



Peace in Kurdistan

Ocalan’s Journey to Peace (Video – 2013)

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