International Initiative
Freedom for Ocalan – Peace in Kurdistan
P.O. Box 100511, D-50445 Koeln

Everything is Art or Art Meets Ocalan

Frankfurt, 21 July 2002

Everything is art and art is political, if we may believe the late Joseph Beuys from the Dusseldorf Academy of Arts. This also applies to MANIFESTA 4, the European Biennial of Contemporary Arts, which with various exhibition venues is hosted in Frankfurt this year. In the middle of the metropolis upon the river Main a part of Kurdish reality is under consideration. Gianni Motti, Swiss artist, has seized Abdullah Ocalan’s present situation by reproducing the Kurdish leader’s solitary cell as an experience for the European public. This arrangement may now be viewed on the island in the river Main. Here, a small strip of land in the river serves as a synonym for Imrali, the small prison island in the Sea of Marmara, where Abdullah Ocalan is being kept since his illegal abduction from Kenya in February 1999. Imrali also symbolises how a problem is isolated in order to keep the Kurdish question from off the agenda of the European countries.

Even if Abdullah Ocalan’s situation is barely perceived by the European public it is quite present for the Kurdish people. Still, his personal fate and therefore the question of war and peace are not yet determined. He is the only prisoner of the fortress that is Imrali. The restricted conditions of his isolated confinement have already caused damage to his health.

Abdullah Ocalan has long since been regarded by large parts of the Kurdish population as the man who brought back hope to the Kurdish people and restored their lost identity. Despite the death penalty imposed on him he is committed to working for a peaceful solution of the Kurdish question even while in prison within his means. So he produced a historical proposal which would lead to a democratic solution of the long lasting Turkish-Kurdish bloodshed. Meanwhile, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) announced a unilateral ceasefire and withdrew its armed forces on territory outside Turkey. The PKK itself by now is history. It disbanded in April. In its place the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress (KADEK) was founded which also intends to solve the Kurdish question by exclusively political means. The Ocalan case is still a topic even if his execution has been postponed for the time being -since Turkey
wishes to wait for the end of the legal proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights. Turkey still hesitates to completely abolish capital punishment which therefore continues to be a cause for concern. The ultra-nationalist MHP being the second largest party of the coalition government would like to have Abdullah Ocalan hanged. An execution of the death sentence, however, would make the war in Turkey flare up again with incalculable consequences for the whole region. This must not happen.

Art as action

Art is not just a privilege of a small elite which exclusively present their perception of social realities. Art also will always be thought-provoking as well as an invitation to act. The aesthetics of the action itself are brought to appear. We want to follow this invitation. We call for all enthusiastics of the arts to symbolically “travel to the Imrali” in the Main. Let us pay a symbolic “visit” to Abdullah Ocalan on the island in the Main and let us promote a peaceful solution of the Kurdish question. Let us break his intended isolation symbolically and “visit” the island.

Simultaneously there will be a picnic on the neighbouring shore for those who want to take part without going on the water.

Freedom for Abdullah Ocalan – Peace in Kurdistan

Date: 21 July 2002
Time: 11 a.m.
Place: On the Main by the bridge ”Ignaz Bubis Brücke – Schaumainkai”

Organised by: Libertad!, Kurdish Students Association (YXK) and International Initiative „Freedom for Abdullah Ocalan – Peace in Kurdistan“

Supported by: medico international, Dritte Welt Haus e.V.