Campaign for freedom of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan takes to Sydney Harbour

February 7, 2023

Kurds and supporters of the Kurdish struggle began a month-long campaign on February 5 for imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan by sailing through iconic Sydney Harbour in a flag and banner dressed yacht.

The campaign will continue by collecting video messages from community leaders, politicians and religious leaders, a car cavalcade through the CBD on February 12 and participation in a "Twitter-storm" on February 15.

That day will be 24 years since Öcalan was betrayed and kidnapped during a stopover in Nairobi on his way to South Africa, where he had been invited by Nelson Mandela. This invitation was significant, as many Kurds refer to  Öcalan as "our Nelson Mandela".

After he was brought to Turkey, Öcalan was convicted of treason in a show trial and sentenced to death.

Following pressure from the international community, in 2002 the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He has been held in isolation for long periods of time, in contravention of human rights conventions. He has had no contact with family since he had a short interrupted phone call with his brother in March 2021. The last in-person visit by his lawyers was in March 2020.