Activists from 21 different countries took part in the long march organized to protest against the captivity of Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who is imprisoned in solitary confinement on the island of İmrali, in Turkey, since 1999.
The march, which was attended by more than 150 activists from internationalist groups, started in Frankfurt on February 6 and protesters marched 160 km to Strasbourg. The event, held for the sixth time this year, brought together members of various political groups from Catalonia, the Basque Country, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Scotland, England, Morocco, Denmark, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, United States, Netherlands, China, Ireland, Armenia and Ukraine.
Some of the activists spoke with Yeni Özgür Politika and explained why they took part in the march and what Öcalan meant to them.
From the United States to join the march
Mei Zhang (26) is a Chinese-American whose family immigrated to the United States years ago. She grew up in Seattle, Washington. She is active in labor unions and works for the American people to recognize and support popular solidarity in Rojava and Abdullah Öcalan’s call for freedom. She attends the march from Frankfurt to Saarbrücken with two of her friends.
“I am inspired by the philosophy of Öcalan”
She considers it essential to support Öcalan’s freedom march because she and her friends in the United States are very inspired by Öcalan’s ideas. Mei Zhang says, “Although the long march of the internationalists is under the slogan ‘Freedom for Öcalan’, people from different cultures and nationalities can share ideas here too. People have the chance to recognize the solidarity of the other. In this sense, internationalists have much to learn from this march. I think internationalists should thank the Kurdish liberation movement for organizing such an event.
“I will continue to walk with the Kurdish people”
Mei Zhang says that as a feminist and activist, she is very inspired by the solidarity of Kurdish women. She adds, “Our leader Mao, who led the Chinese revolution, also did important things for women. But Öcalan’s ideas and works are very different. Öcalan says that the freedom of women is the freedom of the people. As a woman, I respect the importance given to women by Öcalan and the Kurdish popular movement. I thank the Kurdish people for this opportunity. I had the chance to get to know the Kurds better during this walk. From now on, I will continue to walk with the Kurdish people.”
“We are grateful to Öcalan”
Marco Rovigo (27) is taking part in the march from Italy. Marco explains that he knew the Kurdish people because of the Rojava revolution and that he particularly studied the Kurdish movement at that time. He went to Afrin for three months in 2019 to discover Rojava. There he had the chance to know the Kurdish people. He explains that he knows Kurdish people to be warm, friendly and offended. He says he is really impressed by the atmosphere of the long organized freedom march in Öcalan.
“It creates a great atmosphere when people from different cultures come together in a different region and in a different culture for a worthy cause, and walk together for a week. I am grateful to dear great Öcalan for creating this opportunity. I read some of his books to learn his ideas before coming here. After coming here, I once again realized the influence of Öcalan.
“Let’s make the colonialists shiver!”
Yasmina El-Taouai (23), who is attending the march from Morocco, says Öcalan has been unjustly detained for 23 years and is attending the march to protest against Öcalan’s 23-year wrongful imprisonment.
She adds: “Such demonstrations are so important for the freedom of dear Öcalan and the Kurdish people. No one can close their ears to so many people from all over the world shouting: “Freedom for Öcalan! I believe that by shouting here today, we make the colonialists shiver in their shoes. That is why they tried to prevent us from meeting here today. But they failed miserably against our solidarity.
“We take Kurdish women as role models”
El-Taouai says the Amazigh people have long been fighting for their freedom, as have the Kurds.
“In this context, the Amazighs are those who best understand the Kurdish struggle for freedom. We share the same destiny. We must become partners in our fight as people of two different nations. I see that recently young Amazighs have been leaving for the mountains of Kurdistan out of solidarity and to improve their skills. The Amazigh people have a lot to learn from the Kurdish liberation movement and the Kurdish women’s movement. We particularly take Kurdish women as role models from an organizational point of view.
She adds: “The louder we shout our demands, the more our enemies will be frightened. The louder we shout, the sooner Öcalan will get his freedom.