Internationalists take over the ‘Freedom for Öcalan’ vigil in Strasbourg

The vigil in Strasbourg launched for the freedom of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan has been taken over by internationalists who stand with the Kurdish people in their struggle for freedom.

Since 25 June 2012, a permanent vigil for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan has been held in Strasbourg in front of the Council of Europe. Every week, activists from a different part of Europe take over the vigil. The 25th of June this year marks the tenth anniversary of the vigil for Öcalan's freedom. For this anniversary, there is an internationalist vigil to tell the public that Öcalan is the guarantor of peace, freedom and democracy in the Middle East.

The vigil in Strasbourg has been taken over by a group of internationalists on its 523rd week.

One of the activists, Matthias Camille, who comes from Paris, stated that he participated in the vigil in response to the torture faced by the Kurdish leader. Recalling the case of Nelson Mandela, the historic leader of South Africa, who had also been imprisoned and tortured like Öcalan and was later freed thanks to international pressure, Camille called on everyone to put pressure on Turkey for the liberation of Abdullah Öcalan as a political prisoner.

Another activist from France, Naomi Guihard, stated that she joined the vigil to support the people demanding the freedom of Öcalan. She expressed her support for the Kurdish people who are fighting against colonialism and capitalism for freedom, democracy, ecological feminism.



For 23 years, Abdullah Öcalan, the Kurdish political leader, has been held under conditions of almost total isolation on the prison island of Imrali. Öcalan was abducted in 1999 through an international conspiracy and extradited to Turkey. The Turkish court declared a death sentence on 29 June 1999.

It is no coincidence that this was the date, 74 years earlier, of the execution of Kurdish resistance leader Şêx Said, who was sentenced to death in a similar trial. When Turkey dropped the death penalty, Ocalan’s sentence was converted to aggravated life imprisonment.

Since then, Öcalan has repeatedly campaigned for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question and the democratization of Turkey, and has launched corresponding political initiatives. There had been direct talks between representatives of the Turkish state and Öcalan. However, since the AKP government sabotaged all Kurdish peace efforts in early 2015, and fanned a war against the Kurdish population inside and outside Turkey, Öcalan has hardly even been allowed contact with his family or his lawyers. There has been no contact with Öcalan since 25 March 2021.