Today marks exactly 25 years since Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party PKK, was kidnapped in Kenya by Turkish special forces. Since then, Öcalan has been locked up in complete isolation on a deserted Turkish island.

The Kurdish Institute can hardly ignore this fact. We understand very well that this man is, and may remain, a controversial figure. By which we mean that there are many different opinions about him.

On the other hand, one cannot deny the facts. During his captivity, Öcalan repeatedly called from his cell for an end to the armed struggle. What’s more, he is the author of a number of books in which he meticulously describes proposals and solutions to achieve a long-term peaceful solution to the Turkish-Kurdish conflict. We refer in particular to the two volumes of his “Manifesto for a Democratic Civilization”.

The flemish public broadcast VRT contacted our chairman Derwich Ferho for this occasion. We would like to refer to the article and interview that appeared today on the VRT-website under the eloquent title: “Abdullah Öcalan has been in isolation on a Turkish prison island for 25 years: who is ‘the Mandela of the Kurds’?”

When asked by VRT whether Öcalan will ever be released, Derwich Ferho replied: “I hope so. And I hope that he becomes the leader who can still find a solution. If something were to happen to him, it would harm the Kurds, but would become a problem for Turkey in general.”

Read the VRT-interview via this link (in Dutch).