5-day Freedom for Öcalan vigil to be held in April in Strasbourg

The Freedom for Öcalan Worldwide Campaign collective will organize a 5-day vigil in Strasbourg next April.


The Freedom for Öcalan Worldwide Campaign collective will organize a 5-day vigil in Strasbourg next April to denounce the complicity of the Council of Europe and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) in the inhuman treatment reserved for Abdullah Öcalan in the Turkish Imrali prison for several years.

In a press release, the collective for the release of Öcalan wrote: "As part of the campaign Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan – A political solution to the Kurdish question, a 5-day sit-in protest will be organized in front of the Council of Europe and the CPT (European Committee for the Prevention of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) from 15 to 19 April in Strasbourg."

The statement added: "Both the Council of Europe and the CPT are responsible for monitoring the conditions of detention of Kurdish people's leader Abdullah Öcalan. They therefore have a legal obligation to ensure that the signatory states, in this case Turkey, respect international legal standards. In the case of Öcalan, however, these organizations failed to fulfill their solemn obligations. For example, the CPT recently visited Turkey from February 13 to 22, and during this period its delegation must have known that February 15 was the 25th anniversary of Öcalan's kidnapping; Yet the organization inexplicably refused to visit Imrali’s prison island or check on and confirm Öcalan’s well-being.

On the 25th anniversary of his kidnapping, millions of Kurds and their friends in Europe, Kurdistan, Turkey, northern and eastern Syria, the United States, Canada, India, Australia, in Russia, Armenia and elsewhere demanded Öcalan's freedom in demonstrations and protest rallies. During these rallies, people called on the Council of Europe and the CPT to respect international law and not sacrifice justice for geopolitical interests. These massive protests showed that millions of Kurds and their internationalist friends have not forgotten Öcalan and are insisting that he be released."

The statement continued: "The prison on Imrali Island is a microcosm and a reproduction of the regional and international colonialism to which Kurdistan has been subject for more than a century. For his part, Öcalan succeeded in using theory and practice to mobilize and organize Kurds for an anti-colonial liberation struggle. This is considered an unforgivable crime and is punished inhumanely.

The Council of Europe has numerous political, diplomatic and legal means to compel Turkey to respect international law and grant Öcalan his inalienable human rights. He demonstrated this ability by without hesitation withdrawing Russia's membership from the Council in a short period of time. However, Turkey and the Erdoğan regime benefit from an inexcusable privilege.

Through our sit-in protest, we hope to wake up the Council of Europe to fulfill its sacred duty and ensure that member states do not engage in acts of torture. We also wish to call on the CPT to visit Öcalan urgently, as Erdoğan's authoritarian regime has placed him in a state of "incommunicado" detention which amounts to extreme isolation from the outside world, including his family and his lawyers."

Since 25 March 2021, Öcalan has been hidden from the world, without any information about his health or safety. "This uncertainty is an intentional policy by Turkey, - said the organizers - intended to exert psychological pressure on the Kurdish people and punish them collectively for following Öcalan's prospects for freedom."

The organizers asked everyone who wants to attend the vigil to get in touch with them ([email protected]) and added that they "will cover accommodation and food. However, due to the large number of participants, we are unfortunately unable to cover travel costs."