Mr. Ocalan’s crimes are being born as a Kurd, and having never stopped believing in freedom, democracy, and equality for all people living in Turkey, the Middle East, and overall. He strongly defended his points and believed in them. That’s why he has been the only prisoner in Imrali Island, Turkey for over a decade. Not only is he the only prisoner in the island, he has been in solitary confinement most of the time. Psychological, physical, and mental torture in Turkish jails have been daily procedures for Kurdish political prisoners throughout history. Not even a single Kurdish politician, Kurdish supporter of anykind, or human rights activist have survived this humiliation, torture, and killing.
Abdullah Öcalan was born in Ömerli, a village in Halfeti, Şanlıurfa Province, in the Eastern part of Turkey. He is the oldest of seven children. After graduating from a vocational high school in Ankara (Turkish: Ankara Tapu-Kadastro Meslek Lisesi), Öcalan found employment at the Diyarbakir Title Deeds Office. He was relocated one month later to Bakırköy, Istanbul. Later, he entered Istanbul Law Faculty but transferred after the first year to Ankara University to study political science. His return to Ankara (normally impossible given his condition was facilitated by the state in order to divide a militant group, Dev-Genç. President Süleyman Demirel later regretted this decision, since the PKK was to become a much greater threat to the state than Dev-Genç.
In 1978, in the midst of the right- and left-wing conflicts which culminated in the 1980 Turkish coup d’état, Abdullah Öcalan founded the PKK, and launched a war against Turkey in order to set up an independent Kurdish state.
Abdullah Ocalan was the most wanted man in Turkey for almost two decades until his kidnapping and arrest in 1999. He has been in prison ever since. He is the founder of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). From 1984, under his leadership, the PKK fought for an independent Kurdish state in the south east of Turkey. In a sustained popular uprising, tens of thousands of PKK guerrillas took on the second largest army in NATO.
Mr. Ocalan in his Defense
Every ideology and mode of belief can, if true, implement itself by using the resources of technology and above all those of the media without having to resort to violence. In other words, violence has become unnecessary. In fact things have got to the point where violence cannot be afforded. The rich variety of institutions and practices the democratic system offers is built on this social and scientific-technological development, and whatever problem it tackles, it offers a certain solution. It itself is the solution.
To go through the examples, the solution to religious wars is secularism. Here the standard and the implementation involve taking the approach that everyone is free to follow their religious beliefs and democratic criteria will apply to all of them. Democracy offers definite freedom of belief and this is the antidote to religious wars.
Again the same applies to the fields of thought and ideology. There is freedom of thought and conviction. It is allowed to work as one wants and implement one’s beliefs as long as one does not infringe the rights of others in this respect. This also applies to political ideas and their expression in the form of parties. As long as it adheres to the democratic system and its state structure, every party can offer a solution without resorting to violence. There is no question here of either imposing a religion by force or breaking and shattering the structure of the state. Religion, thought and the parties based on them know to meet the standards of the democratic system of the state because they are based on them. If they don’t know how to do this, then democracy gets the right to defend itself.
It is clear here that regardless of the social group they are based on (which might be a nation or an ethnic or religious group), beliefs, ideas and the parties through which they are expressed cannot, in the name of these beliefs and ideas, force the limits on which the state is based. There is no need for this, because it will render the problem they claim to be solving even worse. Consequently, there is no need for it, and, in any case, there are solutions within the system. These are the democratic rights of those groups. They are their freedoms of belief and thought. They are the parties. They are all types of coalitions. In the area of language and culture, the democratic solution is even more striking. This is the area where the greatest successes have been achieved. Because the intermingling of language and culture, these values that many national groups have assimilated together for centuries, do not want to separate and get weak and monotonous, but prefer to stay together to get enriched and achieve variety, strength and life. And the school and laboratory for this is democracy and its implementation with conviction.
Democracy is almost a garden of language and culture. The most developed and powerful principles of our day once again express this clearly. All European countries and North America are clear proofs of it. The attempt to suppress new religious, linguistic, cultural, intellectual and political developments during past centuries was the cause of all major wars, and resistance against suppression gave to wars which could be seen as understandable. Particularly in European countries this experience led to the development of a determined democracy in the wake of all these wars and led to the supremacy of the West. Western civilisation can, in this sense, be termed democratic civilisation. The democratic system is at least as important as scientific and technological superiority. Feeding off each other, they both became strong and achieved the status of world civilisation.