Jailed Kurdish PKK leader Ocalan receives
Special Recognition Award from South African
July 16, 2012
Jailed Kurdish PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, the only
prisoner for a decade on the Imrali Island in the Turkish Sea of
Marmara. Photo: ANF/HPG/Ekurd.net
JOHANNESBURG, — The South African
Communist Party (SACP) has given Abdullah Öcalan a
Special Recognition Award. The award was handed over
at the SACP’s 13th National Congress in oNgoye,
KwaZulu Natal province. SACP General Secretary Blade
Nzimande recognized Abdullah Öcalan as “A
revolutionary internationalist fighter and a symbol
of the Kurdish freedom struggle. A political
prisoner isolated in a Turkish island prison under
atrociousinhumane conditions. His relentless
struggle for peace, democracy and socialism for the
peoples in the Middle East remains a beacon of
progress against imperialism and colonialism.”
Due to Öcalan’s ongoing total isolation the award
was received by a spokesperson of the International
Initiative “Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan – Peace in
Kurdistan” on behalf of Abdullah Öcalan. Heider drew
attention to Öcalan’s position as the leader of the
Kurdish struggle for freedom and socialism and as a
key figure for a peaceful solution of the Kurdish
issue. He also emphasized the extreme isolation
conditions that he is held under: “Since more than
eleven months, nobody has seen him, no lawyer, no
family members. There is no telephone, no letters.
We have no news of him.”
SACP awards are given every five years during party
congresses for outstanding achievements in the
struggle. Other awards were granted to Raoul Castro
Che Guevara, outstanding members of the SACP, former
guerrilla leaders and a fighter against corruption.
The 13th National Congress of the South African
Communist Party (SACP)is being held from 11-15 July
2012 in oNgoye, province of Kwa Zulu Natalwith 2000
delegates and 57 international guests.
With 150.000 members the SACP is the second biggest
party in South Africa. It is part of the ruling
tripartite alliance together with the African
National Congress (ANC) and the Congress of South
African Trade Unions (COSATU). In 2010 Öcalan had
already received the “International Peace Award”
from the Struggle Veterans Action Committee (SVAC)
in South Africa.
Ocalan, 64, is the founder of the outlawed Turkey Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)
which took up arms for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey
(northern Kurdistan). Ocalan had been forced from his long-time home in Syria by
Turkish pressure in 1998, embarked on an odyssey through several European
countries and ended up in the residence of the Greek ambassador in Nairobi. He
was on his way from there to the airport on Feb 15 1999 when he was arrested by
Turkish agents and put on a plane to Turkey.
Following the arrest, violent protests by Kurds erupted all over Europe. Ocalan
was put on trial on the heavily guarded prison island of Imrali in the Sea of
Marmara near Istanbul and sentenced to death. His sentence was later commuted to
life in prison, after Turkey abolished the death penalty in
2002. Ocalan was the only prisoner for a decade until new prisoners arrived on
November 2009, after the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of
Torture (CPT) criticised Ankara for violating
Ocalan's human rights by keeping him in solitary
confinement. He is allowed only visits from
close relatives and his lawyers.
“Ocalan has a high symbolic value for some Kurds,” Nihat Ali Ozcan, an expert on
Kurdish militants at the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, or TEPAV.
The PKK has several times proposed peaceful solutions regarding Kurdish problem,
Turkey has always refused saying that it will not negotiate with “terrorists”.
Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state,
which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish
state in the south east of the country.
But now its aim is the creation an autonomous region and more cultural rights
for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more
than 20 million.
A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK
The PKK wants constitutional recognition for the Kurds, regional
self-governance and Kurdish-language education in schools.
PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in
Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey,
reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action
against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.
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
The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by
Ankara, 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.
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