International press conference in Strasbourg calls for urgent action for Öcalan

An international press conference was held on the 12th anniversary of the vigil in Strasbourg for the freedom of Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan.

Under the leadership of the Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan Initiative, a ‘Freedom Vigil’ has been held in Strasbourg, France since 25 June 2012 to demand the physical freedom of Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan and an end to the isolation imposed on him.

On the 12th anniversary of the vigil, the Global Campaign for ‘Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan and a Political Solution to the Kurdish Question’ made a press statement in front of the Council of Europe.


Some of the speakers who participated in the press conference are as follows: Madeleine MAWAMBA and Elizabeth NGARI from the Women in Exile organisation in Berlin; Barbara Pade-Theisen, Dr for General and Social Medicine, HAGIA certification; Nerea Ahedo Ceza, EAJ/PNV, Basque-Senate of Spain; Remy Pagani, former mayor of Geneva; Rudolf Bürgel, Präsidum Landesausschuss Die Linke, B-Württemberg-Germany; Italian lawyer Francesca TRASATTI; German parliamentarian Andrej HUNKO; Renée Le MIGNOT of the MRAP movement.

Main demands

At the press conference, attended by representatives of parties and civil society organisations from many European countries, the following main demands came to the fore:

- The isolation of Abdullah Öcalan should be lifted immediately.

- Regular meetings with his lawyers and family should be made possible.

- The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe must establish a delegation.

- The CPT should immediately go to İmralı and share its report with the public and mobilise the necessary mechanisms in the Council of Europe to implement its demands.

- For the solution of the Kurdish question and peace in the Middle East, dialogue with Abdullah Öcalan should be developed.

- The right to hope should be implemented and Abdullah Öcalan must be free.

- The PKK should be removed from the list of terrorist organisations and the criminalisation policies against Kurds should be ended.

The statement also condemned the silence and complicity of European governments, especially the Council of Europe, against the isolation of Öcalan.

The speakers denounced the fact that the Council of Europe has completely pushed aside the Kurdish question and the isolation in İmralı.

When European institutions fail, they become complicit

The statement on behalf of the campaign said: "The call to remind the Council of Europe to fulfil its duties towards Abdullah Öcalan is becoming increasingly urgent. More than three years have passed without Abdullah Öcalan having any contact with the outside world. The last visit from the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) took place in September 2022, but no information about this visit has been made public."

"When European institutions fail, they become complicit in the violation and abuse of human rights," the statement emphasised and continued: “Öcalan's philosophy of democratic confederalism continues to inspire many Kurds and other people. Every year many people come to Strasbourg to organise rallies and demand an end to this inhumane isolation.”

"We stand in solidarity with you, the Kurdish people, and all those who seek justice and freedom for Abdullah Öcalan. Abdullah Öcalan is the key to peace in the Middle East,” the statement said.

Expressing their solidarity with the Kurdish people, the speakers noted that Abdullah Öcalan has been imprisoned for 25 years and the Council of Europe has been completely silent and this is a double standard.

Call for the right to hope to be implemented

The statement, presented by Sarah Glynn from Scotland, called for an immediate visit to İmralı by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT). The CPT was requested to visit İmralı to report on the situation and to share the report with the public.

The statement also mentioned the right to hope and demanded the implementation of this right. It emphasised that not implementing and ignoring the decisions taken 10 years ago is a violation of the law.

The statement pointed out that military methods are not a solution, dialogue should be preferred and Abdullah Öcalan is the interlocutor for this.

Serious concerns about Öcalan's health

One of the lawyers of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange also attended the press conference. "This council wants us to stand here for weeks. They are very good at the art of turning a blind eye," stated the lawyer, who said he had seen the hypocrisy of European institutions.

The speakers emphasised Abdullah Öcalan's resistance and ideas both for the Kurdish people's struggle for freedom and for women's freedom. "If there was no war, you can be sure that Rojava would be one of the most beautiful places in the world. There are serious concerns about Abdullah Öcalan's health. The CPT must visit Imrali island again. No report has been released there since 2019. We would like to be informed about Abdullah Öcalan's condition."

Absolute isolation is inhuman

Noting that they do not know Abdullah Öcalan's health condition and are worried, the campaign representatives said: "The ongoing absolute isolation is inhuman. He has no contact with the outside world in any way. This alarms us."

Remi Pagani, former Mayor of Geneva, said: "I am here to express my solidarity with the persecuted Kurds."

"The treatment of Abdullah Öcalan is scandalous. It is a violation of all international conventions. This is unacceptable. One day they will have to answer before the courts for these practices."

The representative of the Association of Women in Exile from Berlin stated that Abdullah Öcalan is the hope for millions of people and added: "His imprisonment is not only a search for individual rights, but also a search for the rights of an entire region."

Stating that they know what it is like to live in isolation, the representative noted that they know this especially from the practices they are subjected to both as refugees and as women. "We demand freedom for Abdullah Öcalan for women's rights, for human rights," she said.

Öcalan has become a light of hope in the Middle East

Rudolf Bürgel from the German Die Linke (Left Party) party emphasised that Öcalan put himself forward for a new life and said: "Abdullah Öcalan has become a light of hope in the Middle East. The best example of this is Rojava.”

Bürgel condemned the German state's support for the Turkish state and demanded an end to the criminalisation of Kurds and the ban on the PKK. The representative of the Left Party stated that Abdullah Öcalan is in complete isolation and added: "European institutions should oppose this isolation."

Bürgel emphasised that they want freedom for Abdullah Öcalan and a democratic solution to the Kurdish question, and that political prisoners in prisons should be released.

The PKK must be removed from the list of terrorist organisations

Renée Le Mignot from MRAP, Movement for Friendship Against Racism, stated that Abdullah Öcalan's imprisonment is a violation of all international conventions and emphasised the unlawfulness of the events from his abduction to his trial and isolation.

Renée Le Mignot underlined that the solution to the Kurdish question lies in dialogue with Abdullah Öcalan and said: "Let us not forget that we owe a debt to the Kurdish people. The Kurdish question is not only a Kurdish issue."

"The PKK must be removed from the list of terrorist organisations," Le Mignot added.

Le Mignot stated that if the state oppresses the people, the resistance of the people is legitimate and underlined that the struggle of the Kurdish people is the most fundamental right.

Francesca Trasatti, a lawyer from Italy, stated that the CPT should immediately go to İmralı and said: "Abdullah Öcalan's freedom would be an important step for a political solution and democratic peace in the Middle East. Immediate action must be taken for this step to be taken".