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Who is Abdullah Öcalan?

Abdullah Öcalan is the recognised leader of the Kurdish liberation movement. Imprisoned since 1999, his ideas and vision have served as an inspiration and guiding model for Kurds in Turkey and Syria.

Affectionately known as ‘Apo’ (short for both Abdullah and Uncle in Kurdish), Öcalan is central to the peace process needed to end Turkey’s war on the Kurdish people. In Syria his ideas have inspired the revolution in Rojava – the first truly democratic society in the Middle East.

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Who is Abdullah Ocalan? freedom for ocalan


The people of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (Rojava) have built a society based on the teachings of Abdullah Öcalan.

The society is one of Democratic Confederalism, a grassroots democracy rejecting the imposition of the state.

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The Women's Revolution

Kurdish women have always been at the forefront of the resistance against gender inequality, polygamy, femicide, sexual harassment and forced child marriages.

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Turkey's Invasion Afrin

Since the Rojava revolution of 2012, the Turkish military has tried to destabilise the Kurds.

In 2014 Turkish tanks lined the border between Turkey and Kobane as ISIS besieged the city – preventing the Kurds from receiving help.

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UK Campaign

Freedom for Öcalan: The UK Trade Union Campaign - In 2014 the UK trade union campaign movement were appalled at the manner in which the Turkish government prevented support for the Kurds crossing their borders during the battle for Kobani against the genocidal intent of ISIS.

The brave Kurdish fighters of the People’s protection units (YPG) and the Women’s protection units (YPJ) were an inspiration to all, especially those in the trade union movement.

Then in 2015 Erdogan failed to gain the absolute majority he wanted in the elections and proceeded to react in an aggressive manner and relaunched the brutal war against the Kurds.

In the aftermath of these events the trade union campaign – Freedom for Öcalan – was launched in 2016 in the UK parliament by UNITE and the GMB. Since then it has grown to have 14 major unions affiliated and is supported by the TUC.

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Who are the Kurds?

With over 30 million people, the Kurds are the largest minority group in the Middle East without a homeland.

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Turkey's War against the Kurds

Since the Turkish Republic was declared in 1923 the state has been in an ever-escalating war with the Kurdish people.

This culminated in the armed conflict against the Kurdish liberation movement and under President Erdogan this war has become a central part of the regime’s wider persecution of the Left and the trade union movement.

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Civil Society

With a long history of coup d’etat and military rule civil society in Turkey exists under intense pressure from a state that views any independent organisations as a threat.

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Next Steps...

Do you want to help the Freedom for Ocalan campaign in its fight for the rights of Abdullah Ocalan and the Kurdish people? Affiliate today as either a branch or individual......