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Abdullah Öcalan

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Title: Abdullah Öcalan  
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Subject: Kurdistan Workers' Party, Serhildan, Democratic Society Party, February 1999 Kurdish protests, 2011–12 Kurdish protests in Turkey
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Abdullah Öcalan

Abdullah Öcalan
Born (1948-04-04) 4 April 1948
Ömerli, Şanlıurfa, Turkey
Nationality Turkish
Ethnicity Kurdish
Citizenship Turkey
Occupation Founder and leader of militant organization PKK,[1] political activist, ideologue, writer, prisoner
Organization Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Union of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK)

Abdullah Öcalan ( ;[2] Turkish pronunciation: ; born 4 April 1948), also known as Apo[2][3] (short for both Abdullah and "uncle" in Kurdish),[4][5] is one of the founding members of the militant organization the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in 1978 in Turkey.[6][7]

Öcalan was arrested in 1999 by the

  • Special report: The Ocalan file, BBC News, 26 November 1999.

External links

  • Kurd Locked in Solitary Cell Holds Key to Turkish Peace 15 March 2013 Wall Street Journal
  • Özcan, Ali Kemal (2005). Turkey's Kurds: A Theoretical Analysis of the PKK and Abdullah Ocalan. London & New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-36687-9.
  • "Greece and the Middle East" Spiros Ch. Kaminaris, Middle East Review of International Affairs, Volume 3, Number 2 (June 1999).

Further reading

  1. ^ Paul J. White, Primitive rebels or revolutionary modernizers?: the Kurdish national movement in Turkey, Zed Books, 2000, "Professor Robert Olson, University of Kentucky"
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Belgenet Öcalan Davası Gerekçeli Karar
  13. ^
  14. ^ Marlies Casier, Joost Jongerden, Nationalisms and Politics in Turkey: Political Islam, Kemalism and the Kurdish Issue, Taylor & Francis, 2010, p. 146.
  15. ^ Council of Europe, Parliamentary Assembly Documents 1999 Ordinary Session (fourth part, September 1999), Volume VII, Council of Europe, 1999, p. 18
  16. ^ Mag. Katharina Kirchmayer, The Case of the Isolation Regime of Abdullah Öcalan: A Violation of European Human Rights Law and Standards?, GRIN Verlag, 2010, p. 37
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Aliza Marcus, Blood and Belief, New York University Press, 2007. (p.16)
  22. ^ Blood and Belief: The Pkk and the Kurdish Fight for Independence, by Aliza Marcus, p.15, 2007
  23. ^ Perceptions: journal of international affairs – Volume 4, no.1, SAM (Center), 1999, p.142
  24. ^ Turkey: Facing a New Millenniium : Coping With Intertwined Conflicts, Amikam Nachmani, p.210, 2003
  25. ^
  26. ^ "BDP wants autonomy for Kurds in new Constitution", Hürriyet Daily News, 4 September 2011
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Workers' Party of Kurdistan (PKK), Federation of American Scientists
  32. ^ Letter to Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema, Human Rights Watch, 21 November 1998
  33. ^ Turkey: No security without human rights Amnesty International, October 1996
  34. ^ Special Report: Terrorism in Turkey Ulkumen Rodophu, Jeffrey Arnold and Gurkan Ersoy, 6 February 2004
  35. ^ [1], Four civilians die in PKK attack in SE Turkey
  36. ^ [2], Pro-PKK protesters attack civilians, Turkey captures senior PKK member
  37. ^ [3], Batman baby dies after PKK attack, civilian death toll rises to three
  38. ^ Foreign Terrorist Organizations U.S. Department of State, 28 September 2012
  39. ^
  40. ^ Turco-Syrian Treaty at the Wayback Machine (archived 9 February 2002), 20 October 1998
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^ "Kurds seize embassies, wage violent protests across Europe",, 17 February 1999
  45. ^ Yannis Kontos, "Kurd Akar Sehard Azir, 33, sets himself on fire during a demonstration outside the Greek parliament in central Athens, Greece, on Monday, 15 February 1999", Photostory, July 1999
  46. ^ Apo'nun yakalanisi on YouTube, 3 March 2009
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^
  52. ^
  53. ^
  54. ^ REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE KURDISH QUESTION IN TURKEY by the international delegation of human rights lawyers, January 1997
  55. ^ Interview with Abdullah Ocalan "Our First Priority Is Diplomacy" Middle East Insight magazine, January 1999
  56. ^ Kurdistan Turkey: Abdullah Ocalan, The End of a Myth? The Middle East magazine, February 2000
  57. ^ Abdullah Öcalan proposes 7-point peace plan Kurdistan Informatie Centrum Nederland
  58. ^ van Bruinessen, Martin. Turkey, Europe and the Kurds after the capture of Abdullah Öcalan 1999
  59. ^ Öldürülen imam ve 10 korucunun itibarı iade edildi, ANF News Agency, 30 May 2006.
  60. ^
  61. ^ PKK Program (1995) Kurdish Library, 24 January 1995
  62. ^ PKK Yeniden İnşa Bildirgesi PKK web site, 20 April 2005
  63. ^ Tarihli Görüşme Notları PWD-Kurdistan, 16 March 2005
  64. ^
  65. ^ Öcalan: Diyarbakır olayları boşanmanın ilanıdır at the Wayback Machine (archived 28 September 2007) ANF News Agency, 20 May 2006
  66. ^
  67. ^
  68. ^ Kurdish leader calls for cease-fire NewsFlash
  69. ^ Kurdish rebel boss in truce plea, BBC News
  70. ^
  71. ^
  72. ^ Ocalan, Abdullah. "Democratic Confederalism. Transmedia Publishing Ltd., 2011. p. 21.


  1. ^ Normally, students can only transfer between like departments, otherwise the student must retake the university entrance exam. Moreover, Öcalan was awarded a scholarship by the Ministry of Finance, despite being ineligible due to his age, and the fact that he had participated in political demonstrations. He had also been tried and acquitted by a martial law court. The public prosecutor had asked for the harshest possible sentence.


See also

  • Interviews and Speeches (1991). London: Published jointly by Kurdistan Solidarity Committee and Kurdistan Information Centre. 46 p. Without ISBN
  • Prison Writings III: The Road Map to Negotiations (February 2012) ISBN 9783941012431
  • Prison Writings Volume II: The PKK and the Kurdish Question in the 21st Century (March 2011) ISBN 9780956751409
  • Prison Writings: The Roots of Civilisation (January 2007) ISBN 9780745326160
  • Defending a Civilisation
  • Sumer rahip devletlerinden demokratik uygarliga volumes 1 and 2
  • Translation of his 1999 defense in court at the Wayback Machine (archived 20 October 2007)
  • The Road Map to Negotiations (August 2011) ISBN 9783941012424
  • Democratic Confederalism (2011)[72]

Abdullah Öcalan is the author of more than 40 books, four of which were written in prison. Many of the notes taken from his weekly meetings with his lawyers have been edited and published, notably:


Soon after Öcalan's declaration was read, the functional head of the PKK, Murat Karayılan responded by promising to implement the ceasefire, stating, "Everyone should know the PKK is as ready for peace as it is for war".

More recently, Öcalan has shown renewed cooperation with the Turkish government and hope for a peaceful resolution to three decades of conflict. On 21 March 2013, Öcalan declared a ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish state. Öcalan's statement was read to hundreds of thousands of Kurds gathered to celebrate the Kurdish New Year and it states, "Let guns be silenced and politics dominate... a new door is being opened from the process of armed conflict to democratization and democratic politics. It's not the end. It's the start of a new era." Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed the statement and hope for a peaceful settlement has been raised on both sides.

On 31 May 2010, however, Öcalan said he was abandoning an ongoing dialogue between him and Turkey saying that "this process is no longer meaningful or useful". Turkey ignored his three protocols for negotiation that included (a) his terms of health and security (b) his release and (c) a peaceful resolution to the Kurdish issue in Turkey. Though the Turkish government received these protocols, they were never published. Öcalan stated that he would leave the top PKK commanders in charge of the conflict. However, he also said that his comments should not be misinterpreted as a call for the PKK to intensify its armed conflict with the Turkish state.[70][71]

Öcalan had his lawyer, Ibrahim Bilmez,[68] release a statement 28 September 2006, calling on the PKK to declare a ceasefire and seek peace with Turkey. Öcalan's statement said, "The PKK should not use weapons unless it is attacked with the aim of annihilation," and that it is "very important to build a democratic union between Turks and Kurds. With this process, the way to democratic dialogue will be also opened".[69] He made another such declaration in March 2013.

Since his incarceration, Öcalan has significantly changed his ideology, reading Western social theorists such as Murray Bookchin, Immanuel Wallerstein, Fernand Braudel,[63] fashioned his ideal society as "Democratic Confederalism" (drawing heavily on Bookchin's Communalism),[64] and refers to Friedrich Nietzsche as "a prophet".[65] He also wrote books[66] and articles[67] on the history of pre-capitalist Mesopotamia and Abrahamic religions.

Abandoning his precapture policy, which involved violence targeting civilians as well as military personnel, Öcalan has advocated a relatively peaceful solution to the Kurdish conflict inside the borders of Turkey.[54][55][56][57][58] Öcalan called for the foundation of a "Truth and Justice Commission" by Kurdish institutions in order to investigate war crimes committed by the PKK and Turkish security forces; a parallel structure began functioning in May 2006.[59] In March 2005, Abdullah Öcalan issued the Declaration of Democratic Confederalism in Kurdistan[60] calling for a border-free confederation between the Kurdish regions of Eastern Turkey (called "Northern Kurdistan" by Kurds[61]), East Syria ("Western Kurdistan"), Northern Iraq ("South Kurdistan"), and West of Iran ("East Kurdistan"). In this zone, three bodies of law would be implemented: EU law, Turkish/Syrian/Iraqi/Iranian law and Kurdish law. This perspective was included in the PKK programme following the "Refoundation Congress" in April 2005.[62]

Proposal for political solution

In 2005, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey had violated articles 3, 5 and 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights by granting Öcalan no effective remedy to appeal his arrest and sentencing him to death without a fair trial.[52] Öcalan's request for a retrial was refused by Turkish court.[53]

In November 2009, Turkish authorities announced that Öcalan would be relocated to a new prison on the island and that they were ending his solitary confinement by transferring several other PKK prisoners to İmralı. They said that Öcalan would be allowed to see them for ten hours a week. The new prison was built after the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture visited the island and objected to the conditions in which he was being held.[50][51]

After his capture, Öcalan was held in solitary confinement as the only prisoner on İmralı island in the Sea of Marmara. Although former prisoners at İmralı were transferred to other prisons, more than 1,000 Turkish military personnel were stationed on the island to guard him. He was originally sentenced to death, but this sentence was commuted to life imprisonment upon the abolition of the death penalty in Turkey in August 2002.[47] No one had been executed in Turkey since 1984.[48] The Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP) may have aided this case's decision.[49]

[46] officers. Öcalan stated that his mother is of Turkish origin and that he was ready to serve the people of Turkey in any way.Millî İstihbarat Teşkilâtı During the flight from Kenya to Turkey, a video recorded by [45][44] His capture led thousands of Kurds to protest at Greek and Israeli embassies around the world. Kurds living in Germany have been threatened with deportation if they continue to hold demonstrations in support of Öcalan. The warning came after three Kurds were killed and 16 injured while storming the Israeli Consulate in Berlin.[43] Speaking to

[42] He was captured in

Until 1998, Öcalan was based in Syria. As the situation deteriorated in Turkey, the Turkish government openly threatened Syria over its support for the PKK. As a result, the Syrian government forced Öcalan to leave the country, but did not turn him over to the Turkish authorities. Öcalan went to Russia first and from there moved to various countries, including Italy and Greece. In 1998 the Turkish government requested the extradition of Öcalan from Italy. He was at that time defended by Britta Böhler, a high-profile German attorney who argued that he fought a legitimate struggle against the oppression of ethnic Kurds.

Öcalan supporters in London, April 2003

Capture and trial

[40][39][38] in [34][33][32][31] In 1984, the PKK initiated a campaign of armed conflict, comprising attacks against government forces

Kurdish–Turkish conflict

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. He launched a war against Turkey in order to set up an independent Kurdish state.[18][29] In July 1979 he fled to Syria where he remained until October 1998 when Syrians expelled him.[30]

After graduating from a vocational high school in Ankara (Turkish: Ankara Tapu-Kadastro Meslek Lisesi), Öcalan started working at the Diyarbakir Title Deeds Office. He was relocated one month later to Bakırköy, Istanbul. Later, he entered the Istanbul Law Faculty but transferred after the first year to Ankara University to study political science.[27] His return to Ankara (normally impossible given his condition[notes 1]) 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.[28]

Öcalan's brother Osman became a PKK commander, serving until defecting with several others to establish the Patriotic and Democratic Party of Kurdistan.[25] His other brother, Mehmet Öcalan, is a member of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).[26]

Abdullah Öcalan was born in Ömerli,[18] a village in Halfeti, Şanlıurfa Province in eastern Turkey.[19] While some sources report his birthday as being 4 April 1948, no official birth records for him exist, and he himself claims not to know exactly when he was born, estimating the year to be 1946 or 1947.[20] He is the oldest of seven children.[21] According to some sources, Öcalan's grandmother was an ethnic Turk and (he once claimed that) his mother was also an ethnic Turk.[22][23] According to Amikam Nachmani, lecturer at the Bar-Ilan University in Israel, Öcalan did not know Kurdish when he met him in 1991. Nachmani: "He [Öcalan] told me that he speaks Turkish, gives orders in Turkish, and thinks in Turkish."[24]



  • Biography 1
  • Kurdish–Turkish conflict 2
  • Capture and trial 3
  • Proposal for political solution 4
  • Publications 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10

From prison, Öcalan has published several books, the most recent in 2012.

[17].Turkish and Kurdish, and civilians, both Turkish military The conflict between Turkey and the PKK has resulted in over 40,000 deaths, including PKK members, the [16] but says that the period of armed warfare was defunct and a political solution to the Kurdish question should be developed.[15] Öcalan admitted the previous violent conduct of the PKK,[14].Sea of Marmara island, in the İmralı on the [13]. From 1999 until 2009, he was the sole prisonerEuropean Union in support of its bid to be admitted to membership in the abolished the death penalty The sentence was commuted to aggravated life imprisonment when Turkey [12][11][10][9][8]

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