Yesterday Mandela, today Öcalan – join the online rally

Join the Freedom for Ocalan campaign for an online rally on the evening of July 16th.

And help us renew the call from the UK trade union movement and the international community for Öcalan’s freedom. Yesterday Mandela, today Öcalan. The time has come!

As trade unionists, we understand that nothing builds solidarity like a shared struggle and a shared experience. Many of us have experienced the frustration and isolation of lockdown in the face of the COVID 19 pandemic.

For several weeks we have been denied contact with friends and family or worried about being exposed on the front lines while unable to have the comfort of those closest to us. It’s been tough.

Now imagine how 21 years would feel?

Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdish liberation movement, has been held in solitary confinement in brutal conditions for 21 long years.

Much like Mandela, Öcalan’s struggle for justice and equality for his people have made him powerful enemies, in this instance, the Turkish state. Like Mandela, Öcalan’s freedom is denied to him to stifle the aspirations of liberty for all of his people.

We believe the Freedom for Öcalan is the key to a lasting and just peace for the Kurds in Turkey and beyond.

The trade union movement was at the forefront of the campaign to free Mandela. Now, the time has come for us to lead the call to free Öcalan.

Last year the campaign played a crucial role in significant events for our movement such as the Durham Miners Gala, TUC Congress and of course the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival. 

It was our first time at Tolpuddle, and we mobilised hundreds of Kurdish activists from across Europe who were welcomed with open arms by the festival’s attendees.  

Last year we were able to make great strides in uniting the trade union movement behind our central objectives;

    • The immediate release of Abdullah Öcalan and all Kurdish political prisoners.
    • To lobby for peace in the region and a peaceful resolution to the Kurdish Question.
    • To promote Kurdish civil society in the interests of democratic rights and social justice.

But this year, the restrictions on large physical gatherings have had a considerable impact on our ability to campaign. You can help us overcome these barriers and support the campaign by joining us on July 16th at 7 PM for our first-ever online rally. 

We are bringing together voices from across our movement with messages of solidarity and contributions from the UK and international trade unions, Kurdish and UK politicians and many other active supporters.

We will also be joined live by campaign chairs Labour peer and former general secretary of the NUT Christine Blower and Unite’s international director Simon Dubbins, Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP and TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes, plus more TBC.

If, like us, you continue to be horrified at Turkey’s increasing belligerence against Kurds within its borders and beyond. If you believe the harassment and criminalisation of Kurdish politicians is an ongoing stain on Turkish civil liberties. If you want peace, democracy and freedom for all people in the region, please support us now and join our calls for Freedom for Ocalan. The time has come.

Register here –

Follow us on Twitter for updates @OcalanFree and if you haven’t yet affiliated your branch, region or committee, please consider doing so here.





  • Matt Nathan is director of the Freedom for Ocalan campaign

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