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 Jailed Kurdish PKK leader Ocalan receives Special Recognition Award from South African communist party

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Jailed Kurdish PKK leader Ocalan receives Special Recognition Award from South African communist party  16.7.2012  

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/
July 16, 2012

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 (Cuba), 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.

Abdullah 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 rebels.

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 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.

Copyright ©, respective author or news agency, | AFP | | Agencies


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