Abdullah Ocalan - Wiki images
Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party has been in prison since 1999. He is still the most important leader of the Kurdish campaign for peace, justice and a key player in bringing about an end to the on-going conflict between Turkey and Kurdistan.
Fr Joe Ryan writes: As a Catholic priest and Chair of the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission, I would wish to add my support and solidarity to this campaign - FREEDOM FOR ABDULLAH OCALAN, PEACE IN KURDISTAN We are asking for the release of Abdullah Ocalan from solitary confinement on the prison island of Imrali. He is significant to the peace process between the Turkish Government and the people of Kurdistan.
His writings from prison show his longing for a peaceful solution. These words need to be heeded; they are the aspiration of so many peace loving Kurdish people internationally. The release of Abdullah Ocalan would also open the gates of peace and negotiation.
When human rights are denied;
When there is oppression;
When people feel voiceless;
When people are branded as being terrorist;
When people are not being listened to;
When there is no mutual respect …
When these and other rights are denied there will be unrest, resentment and confrontation.
The unrest will take many forms:
People will turn to violence;
People will, if allowed demonstrate publicly;
They may seek a political solution;
They may suffer in silence and feed the next generation with hatred.
So the question we could ask is; why has the conflict arisen between Turkey and
Kurdistan? I have outlined the reasons i.e. the oppression of the Kurdish dream of
freedom and self-determination.
We need to be clear about the problem, before we can find a solution!
We need to learn from the pages of history. Different human conflicts can have
similar origins and solutions.
In asking for the liberation of Abdullah Ocalan can we learn from
situations like - Nelson Mandela imprisoned in 1964 and released in 1990. He was part of the organisation committed to providing a non-violent transition to a black government
in South Africa. His principle of political forgiveness of past wrongs was a key to
a peaceful solution.
The story of Mahatma Gandhi and his passive resistance; his promotion of peace
between Muslims and Hindus; his understanding that British rule was only possible
with the co-operation of the Indian people … but the Indian peoples wanted freedom.
His belief in “holding fast to the truth” was demonstrated in the “Salt March”,
after which he was imprisoned and offered little resistance. The rest is history.
The Peace Process in Northern Ireland has been a long and arduous journey. While much progress has been made, we see from the current situation, unrest is still there. Why? The residue of discrimination, sectarianism, occupation, and violence on both sides, leaves a wound not yet healed. Such wounds on society are so easily re-opened.
There are many other areas of conflict in our world that could be helpful to examine and be aware of. The wider view of similar scenarios could well be a valuable guide to learning a way forward.
It is time to break the wall of silence surrounding the Kurdish issue. The setting free of Abdullah Ocalan could be a new chapter in the peace process in Turkish-Kurdish relations. When you study his writings from isolation in that prison island of Imrali in the Sea of Marmara, you will see the peace potential. Here is a man in prison since 1999 and is still a key player.
We owe it to all, that we study the “road map” presented in his ‘Prison Writings’ and help in the process of peace and reconciliation between the Kurdish /Turkish Communities.
Yes, freedom for Ocalan could be a new beginning, not only in Turkish territory but would be vital for peace in other parts of the Middle East.
While considering the freedom for Abdullah Ocalan, we must not forget the current 8,000 other political prisoners whose freedom must also be a consideration.
It is now time for action. It is time for international political leaders to wake up to their responsibilities and opportunities. It is time for the Turkish Government to act with a sense of justice and begin a peaceful dialogue, starting with the release of Abdullah Ocalan.
I support this campaign.