Artists for Kurdish Freedom
Today, on the 22nd anniversary of the capture and imprisonment of Kurdish leader and radical thinker, Abdullah Ocalan, Peace in Kurdistan has released a declaration signed by over a hundred international artists.
The initiative is designed to highlight Ocalan’s contribution to the revival of Kurdish cultural expression as part of the modern Kurdish political movement. It represents much more than another list of names. These are people who can reflect the values that Ocalan stands for in their art: creative people whose work can help bring ideas of grassroots democracy, women’s rights, and ecology to communities everywhere that are looking for a more hopeful future. And they can encourage others to follow in their footsteps.
One of the signatories, Sean Michael Wilson, explained to me why he had signed;
“It is widely recognised that the release of Abdullah Öcalan and a peaceful resolution in Kurdistan are strongly intertwined. As a writer of graphic novels on important social issues I’m drawn to the experiment in progressive democracy which is developing there. I want to both show my support of it and represent it’s story in my chosen art form.”
22 years after his capture, Ocalan’s ideas, which he continued to develop in prison, have inspired major societal change in Rojava in northern Syria, and are bringing hope to a growing number of people around the world. When people learn about what is happening they are ready to give solidarity and support, but awareness of Ocalan and the Kurdish struggle is still only limited. In the cacophony competing for our attention, even the most important stories need help to be heard.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s attacks on the Kurds, and especially on anyone who follows Ocalan’s ideas, have reached a new intensity and cruelty. The need for international solidarity has never been greater.