Tens of Millions Call for Freedom of Abdullah Öcalan, End of Occupation in Kurdistan and Democratization of Middle East
Newroz 2022 has set the stage for a new year of successful struggle against fascism, tyranny and occupation in Kurdistan and the Middle East. Tens of millions of Kurds, Arabs and their international friends all over the world celebrated Newroz in hundreds of cities thus showing their ever increasing support for the anti-fascist struggle being led in Kurdistan and the Middle East today. The significance of this year´s participation in the celebrations is worth being highlighted. As part of its occupation and genocide policy, the fascist AKP-MHP government in Turkey had tried to prevent this year´s Newroz celebrations especially in Turkey and North Kurdistan, but also in North and East Syria and South Kurdistan (North Iraq). Yet, the Kurdish people and the other peoples of the region – especially the Arab people – joined the Newroz celebrations in the millions thus making their demand for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan, the end of the fascist AKP-MHP government and the strengthening of the democratic people´s alliance in Turkey and other countries of the region heard all over the world. Newroz 2022 has thus become a clear sign of the determined and successful struggle that will be led by the peoples and the Kurdistan Freedom Movement this year. The Kurdish people and their friends in the Middle East and other parts of the world have declared on Newroz that they are ready to increase their support for the Kurdistan Freedom Movement and thus – in 2022 – achieve the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan, the end of the occupation in Kurdistan and the democratization of the Middle East. Consequently, it is important for the democratic forces of the world and the state forces to hear this message clearly since the freedom struggle in Kurdistan will greatly shape this year´s developments in the Middle East and beyond.
1. Celebrating Newroz Despite Occupation, Fascism and War
The importance of Newroz 2022 cannot be overestimated. In order to be able to fully appreciate its meaning and the many consequences it will have, not only the impressive participation in all four parts of Kurdistan, Arab-majority cities like Raqqa and Minbic in North and East Syria and many more places all over the world is important, but also the circumstances under which this year´s Newroz took place.
In the year 2022, Kurdistan and the Middle East as a whole continue to suffer under the policy of fascism, occupation, war and genocide that the AKP-MHP government pursues in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and other countries in the region. In Turkey and North Kurdistan, dozens of journalists and thousands of active members of the HDP (People´s Democratic Party) continue to be imprisoned, the people are being terrorized by daily arrests and military operations carried out by the Turkish police and military, dozens of democratically elected mayors of mainly Kurdish-populated cities are still being kept in prison and a systematic state policy of torture, rape and forced recruitment as spies weighs heavy on the women, youth and society as a whole. In Rojava and North and East Syria, the fascist AKP-MHP regime continues its policy of occupation and demographic change in Efrîn, Serêkanîye and Girê Spî and its close partnership with its Islamist proxy forces like the Islamic State (IS), Al-Nusra and many more. Daily artillery shelling by the Turkish army, attacks of Turkey´s Islamist proxies and drone strikes but also the cutting off of rivers like the Euphrates aim at destabilizing North and East Syria and at thus preventing the strengthening of the democratic system of self-administration there. In South Kurdistan, Turkey has been waging an all out occupation attack since February 2021 when it attacked the South Kurdish region of Garê. Especially since the intensification of these attacks starting on April 23, 2021, Turkey has resorted to the systematic bombardment of South Kurdish villages and has carried out over 300 attacks with chemical weapons and thousands of air strikes. This has led to the forced depopulation of hundreds of villages, the death of dozens of civilians and has turned South Kurdish regions like Behdinan, Mexmûr and Şengal (Sinjar) into war zones while the threat of Turkish occupation has destabilized South Kurdistan as a whole.
Under such conditions, millions of Kurds, Arabs and members of the diverse peoples and religious communities in the Middle East celebrated this year´s Newroz. They were accompanied by millions more in Europe, North America, Russia, Latin America and Australia. Thus the Kurdish people and their international friends have sent a defiant message of resistance to AKP-MHP fascism in Turkey and its regional and international supporters. They have shown clearly that the all-out war waged by the Turkish state on the basis of its `Submission Plan` passed by the National Security Council of Turkey in October 2014 has not and will not be able brake their legitimate struggle for freedom, democracy and equality in Kurdistan, the Middle East and all around the world.
2. Tens of Millions Celebrate Newroz all over the World
Following the call of the KCK on March 181, everywhere in Kurdistan but also in many countries of the Middle East and worldwide, Kurds, Arabs and their international friends came together to celebrate Newroz. These celebrations were accompanied by numerous military parades and gatherings of the Kurdistan Freedom Guerrilla in the free mountains of Kurdistan, e.g. in the South Kurdish regions of Garê, Xakurke, Heftanîn and Zap2. Thus, both the Kurdish people, the peoples of the Middle East, the international friends of the Kurds and the guerrilla forces showed their united and determined will to lead a successful struggle for freedom, democracy and equality in 2022.
In North Kurdistan and Turkey, Newroz celebrations were held in over 70 cities. In Amed (Diyarbakır) alone, over one million people gathered despite the deployment of thousands members of the police and their attempt to block the entrance to the Newroz square. Many people who were wearing traditional Kurdish clothes were deliberately prevented by the Turkish police from joining the celebrations3. The participation in the Newroz celebrations was especially strong in the cities where people´s uprising for the defense of local self-administration structures took place in 2015/16. In addition to Amed, the cities of Nisêbîn, Gever, Cizre and Silopiya saw hundreds of thousands of people joining this year´s celebration. Once again, the population of these resistant cities made it clear that they strongly support the Kurdistan Freedom Movement thus rejecting the claims of the Turkish state that the resistance in these cities has been broken. In addition, in many more North Kurdish cities millions joined the Newroz celebrations, e.g. in Dersim, Mêrdîn, Wan, Ağrı, Elkê (Beytüşşebap), Erdîş, Şirnex, Basan (Güçlükonak), Qilaban (Uludere), Kerboran (Dargeçit), Rıha (Urfa) Qoser (Kızıltepe), Dep (Karakoçan), Pirsûs (Suruç), Reşqelas (Iğdır), Batman, Adıyaman, Malatya, Elbistan, Bismîl, Dîlok (Antep) and Colemêrg (Hakkari). This year´s Newroz was also celebrated by millions of people in many different cities of Turkey like Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara, Adana, Aydın, Konya, Tekirdağ, Hatay, Antalya and Gebze.
Millions of people in Rojava and North and East Syria also celebrated this year´s Newroz. In cities like Kobanê, Aleppo, Dirbesîye, Qamişlo, Derik, Girkê Legê, Tirbespiyê, Amuda, Til Temir, Hasakah and the Shahba Canton millions gathered on the Newroz squares. As an important sign of the diverse ethnic and religious participation in the social and political life in North and East Syria, tens of thousands of Arabs and Kurds celebrated Newroz together in the cities of Tabqa, Damascus and Raqqa.
In South Kurdistan, thousands gathered in the Qendîl region where KCK co-Chair Cemil Bayik directly addressed the audience in a video message. Tens of thousands more celebrated in other parts of South Kurdistan, such as the refugee camp Mexmûr, Şengal and Kerkûk.
Furthermore, tens of thousands of people celebrated Newroz in East Kurdistan. In the region of Mêrîwan, Newroz was celebrated in the villages of Kanîdînar, Çorûnen, Deştîbîlo and Giwêzekire. The cities of Sinê and Urmiye also witnessed huge Newroz celebrations.
Outside of Kurdistan and the Middle East, millions of Kurds and their international friends joined this year´s Newroz celebrations. In France, tens of thousands of people celebrated Newroz in the cities of Paris, Lorient, Draguignan, Marsilya, Rennes, Strasbourg and Montpellier. In addition to the central Newroz celebration in Frankfurt, in which tens of thousands of people took part, Newroz was celebrated in the German cities of Darmstadt, Heilbronn, Kiel, Krefeld, Hamburg, Dortmund, Freiburg, Stuttgart and Munich by tens of thousands of people. Newroz was also celebrated in the Swiss cities of Basel, Winterthur, Bellinzona, Lozan, Solothurn, Luzern, Geneva, Biel, Chur, St. Gallen and Fribourg, where thousands joined the celebrations. In the Austrian cities of Lauterach, Innsbruck, Graz and Vienna huge Newroz celebrations took place. In the UK, about 10.000 people celebrated Newroz in London while thousands more gathered in Liverpool and Exeter. Kurds and their friends also celebrated this year´s Newroz in the Netherlands, e.g. in the cities of Den Haag, Amsterdam and Arnhem, and in the Danish cities of Kopenhagen and Herning. More Newroz celebrations took place on Cyprus, namely in the cities of Lefkoşa and Limassol. The Greek capital of Athens saw thousands of people celebrating this years´s Newroz. In Catalonia, Kurds and their friends gathered in Barcelona to celebrate. Furthermore, celebrations took place in the Australian cities of Melbourne and Sydney. In the Russian capital Moscow and the cities of Saratov and Krasnodar, hundreds gathered to celebrate Newroz together while thousands celebrated in Italy´s capital Rome. In Mexico, Newroz celebrations took place in the capital Mexico City. Official Newroz receptions with the participation of representatives from parties and civil society organizations took place in the Belgian city of Liège, the parliaments of New South Wales and Melbourne in Australia, the English parliament in London, Vienna, Brussels and in Paris, where YPJ commander Nesrin Abdullah and YPG commander Nuri Mahmud from North and East Syria where among the guests.
3. The Central Messages of Newroz 2022
In times of an ever increasing global crisis that has recently reached a new peak with the start of the heavy war in Ukraine, this year´s Newroz has sent an alternative message of resistance and struggle for democracy, freedom and equality to the peoples, democratic forces and state actors all over the world. The determined and united stance of millions of Kurds, Arabs and their international friends who joined this year´s Newroz celebrations will make it necessary for all actors to question and adapt their policy in Kurdistan and the Middle East. Therefore, understanding the three main messages of Newroz 2022 is vital for all those who want to contribute to freedom, democracy and equality in the region:
Call for Immediate Release of Abdullah Öcalan From Prison
In the statements by the KCK and many more parties, organizations and individuals, but also through the stance of the millions of people during the actual Newroz celebrations all over Kurdistan, the Middle East and the world, the primary and most urgent demand was the immediate freedom of Abdullah Öcalan. After more than 23 years of imprisonment following his illegal abduction on February 15, 1999 as the result of an International Conspiracy led by international and regional powers, today tens of million of people all over the world are calling for his immediate release from the Turkish prison island Imrali. There, he has been held in total isolation since April 2015 thus depriving him of his most basic rights such as meetings with his lawyers and his family. Although the Turkish state and certain international powers that support it seek to cut off Abdullah Öcalan from his own people and the peoples of the world, he has gained an ever increasing importance since 1999 among all forces and people around the world who struggle for freedom, democracy and equality. Through his writings in which he developed a new understanding of socialism and freedom struggle, he has given a new dynamic to the freedom struggle of the Kurdish people and has inspired millions of people all over the world. His concepts of Democratic Confederalism and Democratic Nation offer a practical and realistic path to peace and democracy in the Middle East and beyond. Because the Kurds, the Arab people and their friends all over the world have realized the importance of Abdullah Öcalan and his ideas, they took to the streets in the millions on Newroz 2022 and demanded his freedom by shouting the slogans “Bijî Serok Apo” [“Long live Abdullah Öcalan”] and “Önderliksiz Asla” [“Never without Abdullah Öcalan”]. Hearing their call and guaranteeing the immediate release of Abdullah Öcalan from prison constitutes and urgent task for all those forces that have kept the Imrali isolation and torture system alive for the last 23 years. Once free, Abdullah Öcalan will be able to make an even greater contribution than he already has to the democratization of Turkey and the other states in the region and thus to an end of the war and destruction in the Middle East.
End of Fascist AKP-MHP Regime in Turkey is Imminent
After seven years of imprisonments, bans, destruction of whole cities and war in and outside of Turkey, the fascist AKP-MHP regime is now awaiting its imminent fall. After the so-called `Submission Plan` was passed in the National Security Council of Turkey in October 2014, a relentless campaign of state terror was unleashed against the Kurdish people and all democratic forces. This policy of the AKP-MHP regime has not only led to the death of tens of thousands of people in Turkey, North Kurdistan, Rojava and South Kurdistan, but has also caused a severe political, social, military and economic crisis in the country. The reason for today´s crisis in Turkey is clearly the regime´s war against the Kurdish people and the Kurdistan Freedom Movement. On this year´s Newroz, millions of Kurds defied all threats and pressure by the Turkish state and gathered on the Newroz squares in North Kurdistan and Turkey. Their call for an end of the fascist AKP-MHP regime and for the democratization of Turkey was thus clearly heard all over the country and beyond. Their call was supported by millions of more Kurds, Arabs and their international friends in the Middle East and all over the world. Newroz 2022 was a determined and crystal clear sign that the peoples of Turkey, Syria, South Kurdistan and beyond are no longer willing to live under the tyranny of the AKP-MHP regime. They have thus shown their strong support for the Kurdistan Freedom Movement and all democratic forces in Turkey and beyond that lead an active struggle against the fascist regime of Reccep Tayyip Erdogan. Although his regime has done everything in its power to silence all supporters of democracy – including a sheer endless number of war crimes and crimes against humanity – the Kurdish people and their friends all over the world are determined more than ever to finally free themselves of the heavy burden that the AKP-MHP regime constitutes for them. Recognizing the urgency and determination of this demand will be especially important for all the international forces that have so far supported the Erdogan regime while closing their eyes to the many crimes it has committed.
Increasing the United Struggle of the Democratic Forces
The Kurdish people are not alone. Neither during this year´s Newroz celebrations, nor during their daily struggle for democracy, freedom and equality. Together with the peoples of the Middle East – Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Syriacs, Turkmens, Persians, Beluch, Afghans and many more – but also with their international friends, the Kurds are today waging a struggle against fascism in Turkey and for the democratization of all states in the region. Based on strategic alliances with all democratic forces in these countries, the Kurdish people have become the driving force for freedom, democracy and equality in the Middle East and beyond. Through their strong participation in this year´s Newroz celebrations, the Kurds, Arabs and their international friends have shown their strong support for the united anti-fascist struggle of the Kurdish people together with the democratic forces. This is especially important for the political developments in Turkey, where the foreseeable end of the AKP-MHP regime has encouraged the democratic forces of the country to forge alliances and strengthen their unity. It will be exactly this alliance of the Kurdish people and all democratic forces of Turkey, that will bring an end to the fascist AKP-MHP regime in 2022. Their alliance will not only overthrow Erdogan and his fascist regime but also force the Turkish state along with the official opposition of the country to give up their policy of genocide, war and denial. This dangerous mentality which has led Turkey into the deep crisis of today will be replaced by a culture of democracy, freedom and equality thus allowing the country to come to terms with its most pressing problems and contradictions. Consequently, the international powers that have so far insisted on their support for the fascist AKP-MHP regime will have to deal with a new, democratic mentality and political culture in Turkey. The millions of participants in this year´s Newroz celebrations have underlined the importance of the alliance of the Kurdish people and the democratic forces and have made it clear that they will strongly support their legitimate anti-fascist struggle against Turkey´s regime in 2022.
Every year anew, Newroz announces the start of a new year of resistance and struggle. Newroz can therefore not be understood simply as a single day of protests and celebrations, but must be seen as part of an everyday struggle for democracy, freedom and equality in Kurdistan, the Middle East and beyond. The strong participation and clear messages of millions of people in all four parts of Kurdistan and all over the world have made it clear, that 2022 will witness a new peak in this struggle which will bring about major developments in Kurdistan and the Middle East. The Kurdish people and their friends all over the world have thus clearly shown that they will turn the year 2022 into the year of Abdullah Öcalan´s freedom, the end of the fascist AKP-MHP regime and the victory of the alliance of the Kurdish people and the democratic forces in Turkey and the whole Middle East. Acknowledging and understanding this well will be important for all actors and forces that are active in the region and that seek to support freedom, democracy and equality there.