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Rudaw

Kurdistan

International ‘Free Ocalan’ Campaign Aims for 5m Signatures

By RÛDAW 20/5/2013
Supporters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) dance in T-shirts adorned with images of the groups imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan. Photo: Rudaw
Supporters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) dance in T-shirts adorned with images of the groups imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan. Photo: Rudaw


SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – A group of activists in the Kurdistan Region has collected 60,000 signatures calling for the release of jailed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan, a first step to a goal of five million names on the international petition by mid-August.

Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, together with 90 MPs and political leaders, is among the prominent names on the list, said Kawa Nadir Qadir, the head campaigner in Kurdistan.

“Every day we collect at least 10,000 signatures,” said Qadir, confident he will meet the campaign’s goal of one million names from the Kurdistan Region.

“The petition will later be given to the United Nations and other relevant institutions,” he said, adding that anyone over 12 can sign. The campaign is taking place simultaneously in Iraqi Kurdistan, Syria’s Kurdish areas, Turkey and some European countries.

Qadir said that volunteers are collecting signatures from around the Kurdistan Region. Six mobile teams in the Ranya and Pishdar areas have already collected nearly 60,000 signatures, he added.

The campaign began earlier this month and will end on August 15, the date in 1984 on which the outlawed PKK announced its Kurdish uprising in Turkey.

Ocalan, the PKK’s founder, has been imprisoned for life on Turkey’s Imrali island since his capture in 1999 by agents of the Turkish secret service.

Kurdish and international voices for his release – or that he should be moved from jail to house arrest -- have grown since Ocalan, 65, recently declared a ceasefire in a three-decade war in Turkey over greater Kurdish rights.

The PKK began a phased withdrawal of some 2,000 guerrillas from Turkey to its Qandil Mountain base in the Kurdistan Region, coming closest than it has ever been to ending a conflict in which an estimated 40,000 people have died.

Ocalan told supporters in a March 21 message on the Kurdish New Year that the struggle was moving from the battlefields to the political arena.

Shanaz Ahmed, 19, signed the petition because she believes Ocalan’s freedom will improve life for the estimated 12 million Kurds in Turkey.

 “I thought it important to take part in this campaign because if Ocalan is freed, the situation in Turkey’s Kurdistan will improve greatly,” she said.

“I have also encouraged others to sign,” added Ahmed, whose signature was collected by one of the volunteers.

Until a decade ago, Turkey’s minority Kurds could not even speak or publish in their own language. International watchdog Human Rights Watch reports that among Turkey’s Kurds, “Hundreds remain in pre-trial detention and thousands are on trial on terrorism charges after waves of arrests of officials and activist members.”

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Kurdistan | 20/5/2013
If the PKK organize demonstrations, wherever it is, in Kurdistan, Turkey or Europe, their demonstrations are never for Kurdistan, because they are only for Öcalan, slogans only for Öcalan, Öcalan flags, Öcalan T-shirts. The PKK supporters are blinded with this cult of personality, which is typical for communist movements. Thats why it is so easy for Turkey to controle the PKK through Öcalan, because Öcalan is in their hands. Turkey dictate Öcalan to command the withdrawal of the PKK, to say good things about Turkey and to be against a Kurdish state and the PKK follows Öcalan blindly, just because he said that. And Öcalan is a traitor who sells his people for a sandwich, that he get from Turkey. Kurds must be free from this cult of personality and communists, they must start a nationalist movement, which is only for Kurdistan and not only for one person.
Polla | 20/5/2013
Why every campaign of the PKK is only for Öcalan and not for the independence or at least autonomy for Kurdistan? They waste their time to much with Öcalan. And the result is now that the PKK and even PYD, the syrian branch of the PKK, is against a indipendent Kurdistan and also against a system like in south Kurdistan. PKK's time is over, even their supporters will wake up one day.
Ihsan | 20/5/2013
The house arrest for A. Öcalan should let Kurds gradually realize that Öcalan not that important at all. Afterwards Kurds have to demonstrate for real problems like language, our flag, authority etc.. I don´t think Turkey gives him house arrest within 3-4 years.
Baran | 21/5/2013
Ocalan is one Kurdish leader among several, probably the most important of last decades. He is the one to put kurdish issue on the international stage. He is no more a personnality but a jailed kurdish symbol and there is no point treating him as traitor. Kurds of all parts need unity to be the winner of the new middle east. This is the key point to focus on, as far as this is achieved no more danger on kurds way to Kurdistan.
Dio | 21/5/2013
what kind of kurdish leader is he who cant speak his own language, he have fought for 30 years without freeing kurdistan bakur,or atleast get autonomy, now he has played into turks hands by agreeing on peace plan which only give kurds some language rights and human rights, when will this moron realize that KURDS cant live side by side with its enemy, and he is a traitor for not demanding autonomy!
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