TRADE unionists and Green Left MEPs demanded freedom for Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan yesterday.
Mr Ocalan has been held in Turkey’s Imrali island maximum-security prison since his 1999 kidnapping in the Kenyan capital Nairobi by the Turkish MIT spy agency, allegedly with CIA support.
The 14th Brussels conference on the Kurdish national question was called by the EU Turkey Civic Commission and supported by the European United Left/Nordic Green Left group of MEPs.
The British labour movement was represented by General Federation of Trade Unions general secretary Doug Nicholls, also a member of the trade-union committee Freedom for Ocalan campaign.
He noted that the conference coincided with the trials in Turkey of People’s Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairs igen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas on “trumped-up charges” of supporting the PKK, which is banned as a terrorist group.
Mr Nicholls recalled a century of British trade-union internationalism from the Hands Off Russia campaign against the invasion of the newly born Soviet Union to support for the Anti-Apartheid Movement and Vietnamese resistance to US invaders. The GMB union launched a campaign in the British parliament early last year in support of the Kurdish national struggle.
“This was a spark that has lit an important fire of support,” Mr Nicholls said, leading to the TUC voting to back a similar resolution that September.
Mr Nicholls said “Ocalan and the Kurdish people are seeking new solutions” in Turkey and Syria, where the Kurdish YPG militia have been fighting Isis.
“The imperialists and their fundamentalist foot-soldiers have sought to turn the areas of the world that were the real cradle of civilisation into ashes,” he warned, stressing that “democracy and Kurdish solidarity are essential.”