ABM Youth League expresses solidarity with the Kurdish struggle, calling for freedom for Öcalan

Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Abdullah Öcalan, Abahlali BaseMjondolo (ABM) youth league expressed their heartfelt solidarity with all the Kurdish people in their struggle for peace and freedom against oppression.

The youth league of the socialist organisation Abahlali BaseMjondolo (ABM) from South Africa has addressed the public with a press release for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan and in solidarity with the Kurdish liberation struggle. ABM is by far the largest mass organisation of the impoverished population of South Africa and has been fighting for the right to land, decent housing and a life in dignity and freedom with more than 120,000 members since 2005. ABM primarily organises the population of the so-called informal settlements. In South Africa, millions of people still live in self-built huts. As there is no affordable housing available, people are forced to occupy land and create accommodation for themselves using the simplest of means.

Following the World Youth Conference in November last year, various exchange programmes were organised between the Ronahî - Youth Centre for Public Relations and the youth organisation of ABM. The youth of ABM has now addressed the public with a press release. In the statement, the Youth League of ABM also commemorates the two fallen pioneers of the Kurdistan Youth Movement Bişeng Brûsk and Sara Hogir Riha and compares the situation in Kurdistan with the apartheid regime in South Africa. To express their solidarity with the revolutionary youth movement of Kurdistan and to send their warm greetings to the young comrades in Kurdistan, the youth committee of the Saltrock settlement in the Durban region, South Africa, also published a short video message.

Titled “We stand in solidarity with the Kurdish freedom movement”, the press statement released by the Abahlali Youth League reads as follows:

“Abahlali have been following the struggle for the liberation of the Kurdish people for many years now. Nearly 15 years ago our president was invited to Turkey by our comrades in that country and spoke at the University of Ankara and other platforms. At that time, he was asked to share South Africa’s experience on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Zodwa Nsibande also visited comrades in Turkey.

The Abahlali Youth League has recently had an opportunity to have an exchange with the Ronahi Youth Center for Public Relations. This exchange follows a meeting of radical youth from around the world. In this meeting it was agreed that exchanges to advance mutual learning and international solidarity are key to building the power of young people of our movements.

The Abahlali Youth League is pleased to have been visited by our young comrade from the Ronahi Youth Center for Public Relations who has spent the last two weeks learning about our movement’s struggle for land, decent housing and dignity. He has had an opportunity to learn how Abahlali organises and he has participated in various political programmes in Abahlali communities. We have had an opportunity to learn from the comrade about the liberation struggle of the Kurdish people. His presentation has left many of us with tears, terror and anger. We have come to realise how colonialism and imperialism operate and stand against aspirations for freedom throughout the world. We have also learnt how we continue to live in colonial times even after thinking that colonialism is a thing of the past.

The comrade has also enlightened us on how comrade Abdullah Öcalan was abducted and incarcerated 25 years ago. Comrade Öcalan is a leader of the Kurdish freedom movement and the founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Comrade Öcalan has been held in solitary confinement on an island for more than 25 years as a result of his struggle for self-determination and the rights of the oppressed people of Kurdistan. In the last three years there has been no communication with the outside world, and no sign of life coming from the prison. Against all international conventions, even his lawyers are not being granted access to the island to see a political prisoner.

We also stand firmly against the assassination of the women and youth movement leaders Bişeng Brûsk and Sara Hogîr Riha, who have been martyred as a result of Turkish airstrikes and have been confirmed dead on the 26th of February 2024. We see these attacks, as well as the isolation of president Abdullah Ocalan, as an attempt by an oppressive system to silence the voices of freedom. All over the world, struggles for freedom are repressed by capitalism, imperialism and corrupt and authoritarian elites, many of them hiding behind the mask of nationalism. Anyone who stands up for freedom anywhere in the world is our comrade.

This horror of the repression faced by the Kurdish struggle reminds us of how the apartheid system incarcerated Nelson Mandela for 27 years. It reminds us of how leaders of our movement have been assassinated. We simply cannot understand how on earth the world is so silent when humanity is vandalised by armed forces for standing up for democracy and the right to self-determination.

Today we express our heartfelt solidarity with all the Kurdish people in their struggle against oppression. Just as we are in solidarity with the struggle for freedom in Haiti, Palestine, DR Congo and elsewhere, we are also in solidarity with the Kurdish people in their struggle for peace and freedom.

We stand and call for the immediate and unconditional release of comrade Abdullah Öcalan.

We demand justice for Bişeng Brûsk and Sara Hogîr Riha as well as all other murdered and assassinated comrades of the Kurdish movement. The perpetrators must be brought to justice!

We call on all progressive forces and the South African government to provide the same solidarity to the Kurdish struggle as they have for the Palestinian cause.

The voices of all the martyrs in the struggle to humanise the world will always bring their light to the uprising of conscious young people throughout the world. Their effort in the struggle for the liberation of the Kurdish people shall live forever.”