A group of Kurds demanding freedom for jailed Kurdish politician Abdullah Ocalan interrupted the plenary session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday.
Ocalan is the founder of Kurdistan’s Workers Party (PKK), who has been detained for more than 20 years in Turkey on terrorism charges. He was sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to aggravated life imprisonment when Turkey abolished the death penalty. From 1999 until 2009, he was the sole prisoner in İmralı prison at the Sea of Marmara. He remains in prison there today.
EU lawmakers who were participating in a key debate on the EU’s Green Deal Industrial Plan for the Net-Zero Age were evacuated and the session was suspended until further notice.
Wild scenes as Kurdish protestors take over the plenary session in Strasbourg on the Industrial Green deal, forcing it to be suspended.
The protestors yelled “Freedom for Abdullah….", calling for the release of Abdullah Öcalan. pic.twitter.com/dSunW9NrCO
— Julien Hoez (@JulienHoez) February 15, 2023
Protestors shouted “Freedom for Ocalan” and launched some objects into the hemicycle, most likely papers with some written messages, according to a Parliament source who witnessed the event.
Kurdish independence militants interrupt the plenary session. They want freedom for Abdullah Öcalan and for the EU to remove them from the list of terrorist organizations. Enough with being complicit with Turkey’s repression of the Kurds. pic.twitter.com/Dt0FGyRNh2
— Clara Ponsatí (@ClaraPonsati) February 15, 2023
On 8 February, a similar protest demanding Ocalan’s release took place in the square in front of the EU Parliament.
The PKK, founded in 1974, is considered a terrorist organization by many EU member states due to their controversial practices of protests promoting the Kurdish cause, which included guerrilla attacks and kidnappings.
Ocalan accuses Greece of violating his rights
Ocalan has recently appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), accusing Greece of violating his rights during his stay in the country.
ECHR approved his appeal and a hearing will be held at the court’s headquarters in Strasbourg, France in the near future.
In 1988, Ocalan sought refuge in Greece to avoid capture by Turkey. Greek secret services initially permitted him to remain covertly in the country.
When rumors of his Greek hideout reached the Turkish secret service MIT and the CIA, Greece sent him to its embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, where he stayed for a time at the ambassador’s residence.
After Greece asked him to vacate the premises, Turkish agents abducted him on February 15, 1999 at the Nairobi airport and flew him back to Turkey for trial.