The Ideas of Abdullah Ocalan conference: Full details and speakers list

Agenda and speakers list for the Ideas of Abdullah Ocalan conference at the House of Lords on 15 February. 



Resolving the Middle East crisis: The ideas of Abdullah Ocalan


Date: Friday 15th February 2019

Time: 09.00 – 17.00

Place: House of Lords

Room: Committee Room 1


Session 1: 9.00 – 11.00:

The alternative solution to the political, social and economic problems in the middle east: Democratic confederalism: The Middle East Nation-state crisis through the example of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria.

Lord Maurice Glassman, Hisyar Ozsoy, Mehri Rezai, Dr.Rebwar Raşid, Ilham Ahmed


11.00 – 11.15: Tea/Coffee break


Session 2: 11.15 – 13.30:

11.15 – 12.15: Intervention into the roots of power, oppression, violence of regimes: Jineoloji as the perspective of Kurdish women’s movement

Julie Ward MEP, Nesrin Abdullah (YPJ Commander), DilarDirik, Lave Hadji, Margaret Owen


12.15 – 12.30: Tea/Coffee break


12.30 – 13.30: The Turkish state’s policies against Kurds in Turkey and Syria: The war against Abdullah Ocalan’s Democratic Middle East project

Prof. David Graeber, Chris Hazzard MP, Radha D’Souza, Udo Steinbach  


13.30 – 15.00: Lunch break


Session 3: 15.00 – 17.00:

The Imrali torture system against Abdullah Ocalan: The international coalition against Abdullah Ocalan and the political and legal realities of the Imrali system

Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim, Ibrahim Bilmez, Simon Dubbins, Frederico Venturini







Maurice Glasman, Baron Glasman (born 8 March 1961) is an English political theorist, academic, social commentator, and Labour life peer in the House of Lords. He is a senior lecturer in Political Theory at London Metropolitan University, and Director of its Faith and Citizenship Programme.







After earning his B.A. in Sociology with distinction from Bogazici University in 2002, Hisyar Ozsoy moved to the United States to carry out graduate studies in political anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in 2004 and 2010, respectively. Between 2011 and 2015, Mr Ozsoy worked as an assistant professor of cultural anthropology at the University of Michigan-Flint, teaching courses in political sociology, political anthropology, social and political transformations as well as courses on Middle Eastern cultures, histories and politics. Mr. Ozsoy has also written articles for refereed international publications.

Mr. Ozsoy was elected to the Turkish parliament twice as a deputy for his hometown Bingol on June 7th, 2015 and in the snap elections on November 1st, 2015. Mr Ozsoy is currently serving as the deputy chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in charge of foreign affairs, a deputy for the province of Diyarbakir, and a member of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Commission. He is simultaneously a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.





Mehri Rezai is an established and longstanding political rights activist for the unity of Kurdistan.

As a member of Kurdish National Congress (KNK) and All Party Parliamentary Group Representative for Rojhalat Kurdistan, Mehri is keen to present the direction for a more progressive Kurdistan.





Rebwar Rashed (1961) is currently working as a civil servant in Sweden, holding a bachelor in Political Science, Stockholm University. He has been a political- and human rights activist and a writer. He has primarily written about gender equality, democracy, corruption, racism and anti-Semitism. He has also translated books from English and Swedish into Kurdish. Rebwar Rashed is a Co-chairman of the Kurdistan national Congress/ KNK since September 2015.

Kurdistan national Congress/ KNK is the largest non partisanumbrella organization which consists of almost all Kurdish political parties, NGOs, religious assemblies and independent individuals as writers, intellectuals, artists etc. and have a nearly 400 ordinary and honour members.

Kurdistan national Congress/ KNK is struggling for a democratic, pluralistic, secular society and works for gender equality and social justice and urges for a peaceful and a democratic solution of the Kurdish question. Members of Kurdistan national Congress/ KNK are not to practice racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny and violations of human rights.






Ilham Ahmed has been involved in political work since the 1990s where she undertook work in the women’s movement and political work for the Kurdish cause.

She is one of the founders of the Kongra Star (Kurdish Women’s Movement of Northern Syria), and at the start of the mobilisation in Syria, was one of the founders of the movement for a democratic society (TEVDEM) and became a member in the Kurdish Higher Commission when it was formed in 2013.

She was appointed co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) when it was founded. She is now the chief executive of the SDC. She has recently been on diplomatic trips to Washington D.C, Paris and London.






David Graeber is an anthropologist and activist who currently resides in London. Trained in Chicago, he spent two years doing fieldwork in Madagascar before returning to work in Yale, then later Goldsmiths, and the London School of Economics, where he is currently a professor.

A participant in the Global Justice movement and later Occupy Wall street, along with other social movements, Graeber has written on a variety of topics, ranging from the nature of politics, debt, value, democracy, bureaucracy, and most recently, the modern plague of useless employment. He is a longstanding friend of the Kurdish Freedom Movement.






Julie Ward is a Labour MEP for the North West of England. She is also a writer, theatre-maker and cultural activist. A member of the European Parliament’s committees on Culture and Education, Women's Rights and Gender Equality and Regional Development, Julie also sits on the delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo and the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.

Julie is a founding member of the European Parliament’s Children’s Rights Intergroup and a link MEP for UNCRPD. Julie is a patron of Peace in Kurdistan. She led the Imrali Delegation in 2017, and also led a women’s delegation to Rojava in May 2018.





Radha D’Souza is a Reader in Law at the University of Westminster. Before joining the University of Westminster in early 2007, she taught law at University of Waikato in New Zealand, and development studies, sociology and human geography at the University of Auckland. She practiced law in the High Court of Mumbai in the areas of labour rights, constitutional and administrative law, public interest litigation and human rights.

She is a social justice activist from India where she worked with labour movements and democratic rights movements as organizer and as activist lawyer. She is a writer, critic and commentator. She haa worked with social justice movements in the Asia-Pacific region to focus attention on the effects of international economic policies on developing countries. 





Nesrin Abdullah is a commander and spokesperson for the Kurdish militia group YPJ (Women's Protection Unit) in Syria. She has been active in communicating the progress of the Kurdish and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) operation to liberate Raqqa from ISIS.





Dilar Dirik is a sociologist and an activist of the Kurdish Women’s Movement.




Lave Hadji is a Kurdish women’s activist. She is a member of the Jineoloji Committee in Europe and is a recent graduate in the department of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University.




Margaret Owen O.B.E., is a British international human rights lawyer, with a particular focus on the rights of womenand girls, mainly in developing countries, especiallyconcerning those living in conflict-afflicted countries. She isthe founder and director of Widows for Peace throughDemocracy (WPD), a founder member of GAPS Uk (Gender Action on Peace and Security), and a Patron of Peace in Kurdistan. 

As a PIK patron she has monitored elections in Turkey and has been observing and reporting on trials therefor several years. She has also twice visited the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS). She is a constantcampaigner for justice for the Kurds, and for the resumptionof peace talks to end the conflicts in Turkey and Syria.





Ebrahim joined the liberation movement as a youth activist in 1952, and participated in the Congress of the People Campaign, which drew up and adopted the Freedom Charter in 1955. He was active in all the campaigns of the 1950’s, and after the banning of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1960, Ebrahim joined the armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto We Sizwe in 1961.  He was arrested in 1963 and charged under the sabotage act with eighteen other accused in the Pietermaritzburg Sabotage Trial.  

He was sentenced to 15 years on Robben Island. He was released in 1979, was banned and restricted to his home town in Durban.  

In December 1986, he was kidnapped from Swaziland by the South African Security Forces and detained in South Africa where he was severely tortured. He was charged for high treason and sentenced to a further 20 years imprisonment on Robben Island.

Ebrahim served as the ANC's International Affairs Head from 2007 to 2009. In May 2009 he was appointed the Deputy Minister of International Relations, a position he held until 2014. After the 2014 General Elections, he was appointed as the Parliamentary Counsellor to MrZuma, the President of South Africa until February 2018. He is presently the Parliamentary Counsellor to the Deputy President of South Africa.




Ibrahim Bilmez Kurdish lawyer who studied at Faculty of Law at the Marmara University of Istanbul. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Rights from Bilge University of Istanbul. He works at the Asrin Law Office in Istanbul.

In 2011, during the wave of arrests against lawyers dealing with the Abdullah Öcalan case, he was imprisoned. Bilmez was later released, but the court case against him is still continuing. 




Simon Dubbins is Director of International and Research for UNITE the Union in the UK. He is the co-chair of the Freedom For Ocalan Trade Union campaign in the UK. Simon has worked for the Graphical Paper and Media Union, was the Head of International for AMICUS and the Director of International & Research for UNITE. He now coordinates the European and International work of UNITE across all its sectors.




Federico Venturini is an independent activist-researcher. In 2016, he earned his PhD at the University of Leeds. Focusing on the experiences in Rio de Janeiro between 2013-2014, in his research he explored the relations between contemporary cities and urban social movements, utilizing participatory/militant research approaches and through the lens of social ecology. He holds an M.Phil. from the University of Trieste as well as a Master’s in history and European Culture from the University of Udine (Italy).

He has been a member of the Advisory Board of the Transnational Institute of Social Ecology since 2013, and the International İmralı Peace Delegation, organized by the Eu Turkey Civic Commission since 2016; he was part of the “Contested Cities” and “Triangle-city cooperation: building joint climate-resilient development in the Parana basin” research projects. With Thomas Jeffrey Miley he co-edited Your Freedom and Mine: Abdullah Öcalan and the Kurdish Question in Erdoğan’s Turkey.




Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Ph.D., is a lecturer of political sociology at the University of Cambridge. He received his PhD. from Yale University (2004) and has lectured at Yale University, Wesleyan University, and Saint Louis University (Madrid). He has been a Garcia-Pelayo Research Fellow at the Center for Political and Constitutional Studies in Madrid (2007-2009).

He was a delegate in the EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) International Imrali Peace Delegations in 2016 and 2017. He is one of the authors of Your Freedom and Mine: Abdullah Öcalan and the Kurdish Question in Erdoğan's Turkey published by Black Rose books.




Professor Dr Udo Steinbach is a Middle East specialist who teaches at the Centre of Near and Middle East Studies at Philipps University in Marburg, Germany. He was Director of the German Institute for Middle East Studies, a research institute dealing with the contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia from 1976 to January 2007, before becoming Director of GIGA Institute of Middle East Studies (IMES) from February to December, 2007.

Professor Dr Steinbach was awarded a Phd in Arabic and Islamic Studies in Freiburg and Basel and has written numerous books and publications on political and social developments in the Middle East. He is a counsellor and expert for various public and private institutions. His main areas of research are political and social change in the Arab countries and Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan; the manifestations of political Islam and the Middle East in the international system.




Chris joined Sinn Féin when he was 17yrs of age and for a decade worked with the party in South Down whilst he completed his studies at Queens University Belfast before becoming an MLA in Stormont in 2012.

Since joining the Stormont Assembly in 2012 Chris has served his time on various committees including the Education, Environment, and Economy Committees; however it was during his 4 years as Education spokesperson where he prove himself to be an innovative force at the forefront of developing progressive policies that were successful in raising educational outcomes for all children.

When Martin McGuinness was putting together what would be his last Executive team in May 2016 he asked Chris to take on the role of Infrastructure Minister. During the shortened lifetime of the last power-sharing Executive Chris demonstrated that he could be a force for delivery & equality as he focused on addressing the infrastructural deficit in rural areas of the north of Ireland, particularly west of the Bann.

Following Martin McGuinness’s resignation and the collapse of the Stormont Government in January 2017 Chris represented Sinn Féin in the Westminster Election and made history in becoming the first ever Irish Republican elected as an MP for the South Down constituency.

Away from political life Chris enjoys spending time with his young family and is an active member of his local GAA club in Drumaness, Co Down.



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