Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan should be freed to strengthen the peace process by enabling talks to move forward, says GMB union.

Kurdish demonstrators are silhouetted by a Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) flag during a protest against Turkish action on the Turkey-Iraq border against the PKK, in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia, Monday, Nov. 12, 2007. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Kurdish demonstrators are silhouetted by a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) flag during a protest against Turkish action on the Turkey-Iraq border against the PKK, in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia, Monday, Nov. 12, 2007. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

The GMB union is backing a call for the Turkish Government to release of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been imprisoned in Turkey since 1999.

Öcalan is the leader of the PKK – the Kurdistan Workers’ Party – which is considered by many Western governments to be a terror organisation. However, the role played by Kurdish fighters in pushing back ISIS in the Syrian cities of Kobane and Tal Abyad has lead many to call for a reappraisal of the organisation.

Turkish leader Recep Erdoğan – concerned by the growing influence of the Kurds – recently launched a bombing campaign against PKK targets.

Bert Schouwenburg, GMB International Officer, said “Öcalan is the spokesman of his people and has played a constructive part in progressive politics in Turkey for decades.

Abdullah_Öcalan

Abdullah Öcalan

The results of the recent Turkish general election saw the pro-Kurdish HDP make historic gains and broke through the 10% obstacle to achieve representation in the country’s parliament.

The victory for the HDP has transformed the political landscape in the country and it has given hope to the millions of people who want to see a more democratic and pluralistic society.

The party fought the election on a platform of support for talks between the Turkish government and the Kurds which Abdullah Öcalan has been instrumental in developing.

Abdullah Öcalan should now be freed to strengthen the peace process by enabling talks to move forward.”

GMB believes that Öcalan has played an absolutely central role in the reduction of tensions and the search for a just solution to the Kurdish problem in Turkey which has existed since the establishment of the Turkish republic under Ataturk.

Abdullah Öcalan has remained consistent in his strong advocacy of a peaceful road to achieving democratic rights for the Kurds and made important proposals to this end on the eve of Newroz, the Kurdish New Year.

The post-election mood in Turkey opens up a new opportunity to move forward on this peace process and all sides should be encouraged to grasp this opportunity. Öcalan release would contribute to a just settlement.

Ibrahim Dogus, from the Centre for Kurdish Progress in London, said, “A peace agreement between Turkey and the Kurds after so many decades of violent conflict and loss of life on both sides will be an important step towards the building of a more pluralistic, open and democratic Turkey and will have a positive impact on developments across the Middle East.”


 

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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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