Freedom of Abdullah Ocalan Campaign

STRASBOURG, FRANCE – Feb.13th-14th 5015. Freedom of Abdullah Ocalan Campaign.

I am very excited about this visit to Strasbourg on 13/14th Feb. Whatever the outcome, it is another phase in a very important saga!

Keep in mind the whole story of Nelson Mandela… here we have a mirror image of his life, imprisonment, patience and struggle for human rights in South Africa.

Due to the oppression of the Kurdish people in Turkey, 20 million of them, and the denial of their rights, armed resistance seemed the only solution.  In 1978 he was one of the founder members of the militant organisation, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK ) which is still listed as a terrorist organisation. It is estimated that 30,000  lives were lost in the armed struggle.

In 1999 Abdullah Ocalan was arrested as he sought asylum in the Greek Embassy in Nairobi.  He could have been sentenced to death, but instead he was given a prison sentence for life.  He has been held in solitary confinement in Imrali Prison in the Sea of Marmara, near Istanbul. In his 16 years in prison,  he has managed to write three books adding to the 40 or so already written.

In his writings from prison he has called for a peaceful solution to the Turkish/Kurdish conflict. He has outlined a peace process and mapped out plans for negotiations.

Sadly what was known as the “Oslo Talks” came to a dead end in 2011.

The fact is the Abdullah Ocalan has the following of almost all Kurdish people. He is their leader, their inspiration and the one person who can peacefully unite the  estimated 30 million Kurdish population.  In Turkey there are some 20 million, the remaining numbers mainly in Syria, Iraq, Iran and more in various parts of the world.

A vast number here in London.

Brussels, September 2012.

The International Campaign,  “Freedom for Abdullah Ocalan” was launched at a Press Conference in Brussels in September 2012.  There were  four of us at the launch.

BDP Deputy Ayla Akat,German Deputy Andrej Hunko, Joe Ryan, Chair of Westminster Justice and Peace, and Reimar Heider, International Initiative “Freedom for Abdullah Ocalan-Peace in Kurdistan”.

Since then some 5 million people internationally have signed the petition, as well as organisations and agencies.  There is a powerful lobby for his release from prison.

STRASBOURG, France – February 13th and 14th,  2015.

The next step in the process is a Rally and a Presentation to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 13th and 14th February.   The strategy is to highlight the absolute importance of Abdullah Ocalan’s immediate release from prison. He can be a key player in the peace process in the Middle East.  We need only look at what has been happening in the Middle East over recent months.


In the ISIS conflict in Syria,  Iraq and beyond, the world has faced a new form of terrorism.  The fight for the town of Kobane, on the Turkish-Syrian border, has been one of the fiercest conflicts over the past months. The Kurdish resistance has been phenomenal, but at a terrible cost.

The news is emerging that Kobane is back in Kurdish  hands and ISIS has been repelled.  The air-strikes by the US has been key to the success.  But the inaction of Turkey left  a lot to be desired. In fact some reports would say that Turkish troops and policies actually supported the ISIS combatants.  The reality is that if Turkey openly supported the Kurdish forces it would negate the grounds for the long-standing Turkish/Kurdish conflict in the first place!  So they stood and looked on and watched innocent children,  women and men suffer!!

The victory has been costly.  Thousands upon thousands have had to flee as refugees,  but nowhere to go. The massacre of Kurds in Rojava is another sad chapter.

So as the story and the conflict continues in the Middle East,  the task in hand to liberate Abdullah Ocalan is all the more important.

INFORMATION:  There is much more information about available on the web.  So it would be worthwhile spending some time to learn more about the very involved situation of the whole conflict and who are the players on the stage!

It will be interesting to see what coverage the media gives to the Strasbourg event.

Thank you for spending the time listening to my story.

SIGNED:   Joe Ryan

Chair Westminster Justice and Peace Commission.

29th January 2015.