Wednesday, March 3, 1999

Kurdish community protests Ocalan's imprisonment

By Chris Latham

SYDNEY — More than 500 people attended a lively protest against the abduction and imprisonment of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan on February 23. The protesters included Kurds from Iran, Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Armenia, reflecting the unity in the Sydney Kurdish community.

To chants of "Ocalan we are with you", "Turkish state, terrorist state", "Peace in Kurdistan, peace in the Middle East" and "Vietnam yesterday, Kurdistan today", the protesters marched from Sydney Town Hall to the United Nations' Information Centre (UNIC).

The protesters demanded that representatives of international human rights organisations be allowed to visit Ocalan daily to ensure his safety and security; that Ocalan (and Turkey's leaders) be tried in an international court rather than the Turkish military's State Security Court; and that an international commission be formed to conduct a fair and open trial.

In reply, a spokesperson for UNIC said there was little the UN could do for the Kurdish people unless a UN member country raises the issue.

Countering the label of "terrorist" that has been pinned on the PKK and other Kurdish organisations, the Committee for Solidarity with President Ocalan said in a statement: "It has always been the Kurdish people's desire to end the oppression through peaceful and democratic means such as dialogue, referenda and/or internationally monitored fair and honest elections.

"However, successive Turkish governments under directives from the dominant military have denied the very existence of the Kurdish people and their cultural heritage ... We remind all caring men and women of the world that the Turkish oppression of the Kurdish people continues with bans and restrictions on the use of their language for education, broadcasting over radio and television, judicial proceedings and ordinary trade and commerce."

You can contact the Committee for Solidarity with President Ocalan by phone on (02) 9676 7245, fax on (02) 9676 8332 or e-mail at .

From Green Left Weekly #351.

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