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 Europe: Thousands of Kurds demonstrate for freedom of leader Abdullah Ocalan

 Source : AFP | Agencies   
  Kurd Net does not take credit for and is not responsible for the content of news information on this page

 


Europe: Thousands of Kurds demonstrate for freedom of leader Abdullah Ocalan  15.2.2009  





February 15, 2009

STRASBOURG, France, — Thousands of Kurds from across northern Europe demonstrated Saturday for the release of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan on the 10th anniversary of his capture by Turkish special forces.

Organisers said 20,000 from Germany, Switzerland and Belgium as well as France marched in Strasbourg, headquarters of the Council of Europe, while police put the number at 10,000.

As every year on the anniversary they paraded through the city holding portraits of Ocalan and banners demanding his release.

Ocalan, 59, founded the Turkey's Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK),
www.ekurd.net which considered a 'terrorist' organization by Ankara and U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list.

Since 1984 the Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) (Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan) took up arms for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey (Turkey-Kurdistan). A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels. Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority.

He was captured in Nairobi on February 15, 1999, Kenya after he was forced to leave the Greek embassy,
www.ekurd.net where he had taken refuge while on the run after leaving his long-time safe haven in Syria the previous year.

A Turkish court condemned him to death for treason several months later, but the sentence was commuted to life in 2002 after Ankara abolished capital punishment as part of reforms to align with European Union norms.

He is the sole inmate of an island prison in the Sea of Marmara and last year the Council of Europe's anti-torture committee (CPT) urged Turkey to end his solitary confinement, stressing the threat to his mental health.                                 


Kurdish protesters demonstrate in Strasbourg February 14, 2009. Thousands of demonstrators hold a poster of Abdullah Ocalan, protested in support of jailed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan, who was captured ten years ago on February 15, 1999, and is currently serving a life sentence in Turkey.


Kurdish protesters demonstrate in Strasbourg February 14, 2009, Reuters
The Turkish government said in December it will decide this year whether to transfer more prisoners to the island of Imrali.

The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds' identity in its constitution and of their language as a native language along with Turkish in the country's Kurdish areas,
the party also demanded an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and constitution against Kurds, ranting them full political freedoms.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

Copyright, respective author or news agency, AFP | Agencies

** Kurds are not recognized as an official minority in Turkey and are denied rights granted to other minority groups. Under EU pressure, Turkey recently granted Kurds limited rights for broadcasts and education in the Kurdish language, but critics say the measures do not go far enough.

The use of the term "Kurdistan" is vigorously rejected due to its alleged political implications by the Republic of Turkey, which does not recognize the existence of a "Turkish Kurdistan" Southeast Turkey.

Others estimate over 40 million Kurds live in Big Kurdistan (Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Armenia), which covers an area as big as France, about half of all Kurds which estimate to 20 million live in Turkey.

Turkey is home to 25 million ethnic Kurds, a large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK for a Kurdish homeland in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey.

Before August 2002, the Turkish government placed severe restrictions on the use of Kurdish language, prohibiting the language in education and broadcast media. The Kurdish alphabet is still not recognized in Turkey, and use of the Kurdish letters X, W, Q which do not exist in the Turkish alphabet has led to judicial persecution in 2000 and 2003

The Kurdish flag flown officially in Iraqi Kurdistan but unofficially flown by Kurds in Armenia. The flag is banned in Iran, Syria, and Turkey where flying it is a criminal offence" 

Southeastern Turkey: North Kurdistan ( Kurdistan-Turkey) wikipedia    

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