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  The Long March for Kurdish Rights and Freedom for jailed leader Öcalan heading towards Basel

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The Long March for Kurdish Rights and Freedom for jailed leader Öcalan heading towards Basel  8.2.2012  

Among the marchers are artist Seyidxan, writer Samanci, former MEP Uca. Photo: ANF  
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February 8, 2012

LIESTAL, — The Long March for Freedom and Kurdish rights has reached day 8. Despite the Siberian temperatures hundreds of Kurds living in Europe have joined the march organized by KON-KURD (Confederation of Kurdish Associations in Europe). Today, Wednesday, the march will stop in Basel where a meeting is planned.

Speaking about the meeting in Basel, march organization committee member İsmet Kem said that “the city of Basel has a remarkable population of patriotic Kurds. We expect Kurdistan’s people and their friends here to join the meeting on February 8 as this welcome and meeting will be the only act to warm our friends up.”

People marching with flags are chanting slogans like “We are on the Road for Our Existence and Freedom!”. The Long March protests the prison conditions of the Kurdish leader Mr. Abdullah Öcalan, without whom the Kurds feel no solution of the Kurdish question is possible.

The long march for freedom started at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva and will end in Strasbourg on the 18 of February.

Among the marchers are writers, artists, politicians. Here some of the remarks they made during the march.

Artist Seyidxan: I feel proud to be amongst my people and to be marching with them. As Kurdish artists we have important responsibilities in working to bring about the freedom of our leader Abdullah Öcalan and bringing him back to the people. Artists can only win the respect of their people by being amongst them in solidarity and by meeting the needs of the people. Ever step I have taken during the march has made me think about how I can be of more use and value to the people and our struggle for the freedom of our leader. We will complete our march with enthusiasm, belief and hope.

Writer Suzan Samancı: The pain and suffering of the Kurdish people is due to the Kurds not having a status. This is why I find it important that a march such as this was organised and I attended. All through the march I have witnessed the belief and joy of the Kurds, this is a sign of how far they have come, and this is the most important thing. I am particularly overjoyed by the stance and belief of the women attending the march. I believe all Kurdish women whose hearts beat for freedom must also join us at the march and become part of this belief and demand.

Activist Hanım Engizek: The freedom of Kurdish Peoples’ leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been in total isolation for six months, is as much as the freedom of Kurdish women as it is the freedom of the Kurdish people. As Kurdish women we are attending this march to show that the freedom of our leader is equal to our freedom.

Former MEP Feleknas Uca: I find this march very meaningful. Despite all the oppression and massacres the voice of the Kurds is being ignored. This is why we are on the streets today to join forces and raise our voices in determining our fate and freeing Kurdish Leader Mar Öcalan. The thing that has most excited me in this march is the variety of the participants. People from different beliefs, youth, old people, women, everyone is walking with confidence, belief and joy in these adverse weather conditions; this excites me. It is important that European organisations and powers hear this voice, feel this belief and take initiative for the Kurdish issue, but what is more important is the unity of the people here.

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, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish 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 rebels.

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 expectations.

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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