Italian mayor responds to Turkish ambassador

Numerous Italian cities have awarded honorary citizenship to Abdullah Öcalan. This displeases the Turkish state. Mayor of Rende, Marcello Manna enlightens the Turkish ambassador in Rome about the principles of a democratic society.

In early April, the Italian city of Rende in the region of Calabria named Abdullah Öcalan an honorary citizen. In doing so, the city council paid tribute to the alternative model of society put forward by Öcalan and denounced the disregard for human rights in Turkey. Turkey's ambassador to Rome, Murat Salim Esenli, reacted immediately, writing to Mayor Marcello Manna to describe the tribute as "support for terrorism".

Manna shared the Turkish ambassador's letter on his Facebook account and responded publicly. He said that awarding honorary citizenship to Abdullah Öcalan was not about "supporting terrorism and even less about legitimizing it." Öcalan is a leader for the Kurdish people and does not appear in any official list with this designation, writes Marcello Manna:

"Öcalan has always opted for the constant and even unilateral search for a peaceful solution to the conflict. For twenty-two years he has paid for his tireless struggle to defend the rights of his people with harsh imprisonment, which for sixteen years has become 'solitary confinement-torture' recognized as a violation of international law as well as Turkish law itself. It is certainly no coincidence that the Western community gives him credit for the Kurdish militia's frontline involvement in the war against ISIS since 2013 to the present day, as the only ground force within the US-led international coalition.

In awarding Öcalan honorary citizenship, we wanted to highlight the issue of the Kurdish people's process of self-determination, an issue that we have known historically since World War II and that our country has overcome thanks to the partisan struggles and the realization of the democratic principles contained in our Constitutional Charter. In a democratic, pluralistic, ecological, feminist and liberal society, civil rights and the rights of individuals and ethnic minorities must be universally recognized and guaranteed.

In fact, we are used to discussing and not imposing the principles of equality between the sexes and respect for differences. We have arrived at the third millennium, which is the era of rights not only for Italy but also for all other countries in the world. Rende will always work to protect human rights and equality among peoples," said Mayor Marcello Manna.

In Italy, numerous cities and municipalities have already declared Abdullah Öcalan an honorary citizen, including Palermo, Napoli, Palagonia, Reggio Emilia, Riace, Martano, Pinerolo, Castel de Giudice, Castel Bottaccio, Berceto, Cinquefrondi and Fossalto. In March 2020, the Turkish government had reacted sharply to the appointment of Öcalan as an honorary citizen of Fossalto, expressing its expectation that Italian authorities would consider this as "collaboration with the PKK".