A NEW campaign for jailed leader of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, to be released was launched on Monday 25th April at a packed meeting at the House of Commons organised by Labour MP Kate Osamor, with full support from the unions UNITE, Unison and the GMB.
Öcalan has been held in solitary confinement on the Turkish island of Imrali since 1999, when he was arrested in Nairobi by the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MIT) with CIA assistance.
Öcalan’s niece Dilek Öcalan, an MP for the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which has 59 MPs in the Turkish parliament, said that the Turkish government ended two years of negotiations with Öcalan in April 2015 and since then “the isolation of Öcalan has intensified”.
Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan then “launched an all-out war against the people of Kurdistan, and has not only supported Daesh (ISIS) but it has also increased support for jihadi gangs”.
She added: “The only way to end the current chaos in the region is to release Mr Öcalan and resume talks. The isolation of Öcalan is the isolation of peace.”
Reimer Heider, from the International Initiative Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan, said: “Up to now the campaign for Öcalan was run by Kurdish people, but with the involvement of trade unions the campaign to free Öcalan is moving to a new level.”
He said: “People in Europe need to move their governments away from supporting warmongers and towards supporting peace in Kurdistan.”
Kamuran Yuksek, joint leader of the Democratic Regions Party, an ally of the HDP, said “The world is not a place where people fighting for justice and human rights are leading the way. The freedom of Mr Öcalan is essential for a democratic solution and peace in the Middle East.”
Stephen Smellie, Deputy Convenor UNISON Scotland, and trade union liaison officer with the Peace in Kurdistan Campaign, said: “This Government’s position is shameful, doing deals with Turkey to stop refugees coming while Turkey steps up its war on Kurdish people in Turkey, including aerial bombing.”
The meeting was also addressed by Tim Roache, general secretary of the GMB, Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of Unite the Union, Bert Schouwenburg, the GMB’s international officer, Simon Dubbins, Director of UNITE’s international department; and a message of support from four Sinn Féin Westminster MPs was read out.