On Thursday 5th December 2013, the Guardian Editorial wrote this comparing Mandela and Ocalan:
" A distant parallel would be with the Kurdish leader Abdullah O calan , who has maintained an extraordinary grip on his supporters from his own island prison and is even now negotiating with the Turkish government on something like equal terms. But Ocalan's cult-like following does not fit the Mandela template. Ocalan is feared and worshipped; Mandela was respected and loved. The secret of Mandela's leadership lay in the almost unique mixture of wisdom and innocence which his character, and a life that kept him off stage for such a long and critical period, combined to produce." (1).
There are millions of people following Abdullah Ocalan's teachings in the Middle East and the world now, because they are founded in the tradition of the great thinkers of that area. Every four thousand years one has arisen to serve humanity.
The human population on earth is going through a critical time, the US capitalist system is failing and the Chinese communist system is faltering. Some of the socialist systems of Europe are struggling to survive while the EU's support of corrupt rulers of the Middle East in order to ensure a supply of raw materials is not enough to rescue Europe from starvation. The Guardian editorial writers obviously have little understanding of how Ocalan's ideas address these problems including poverty, which explains why they branded him the leader of a fearsome cult. And as Ocalan himself indicates in his reply to the Guardian editorial (see below), what power over his people can he enforce from his prison cell?
Further, if his popularity is measured by the number of people reading his writings and fighting for the freedom, self-determination and human rights they advocate whilst displaying his picture in their institutions, perhaps it's because he is providing authentic, transparent leadership for peace in a region ruled by corruption, violence and oppression. And maybe these are also the reasons why he keeps an "extraordinary grip' on his supporters who see his teachings as their only hope for escape from tyranny, brutality and poverty. The followers of the only other so called "god' they are allowed to worship occupy their territory and seek to enslave and kill them, so why wouldn't they venerate a leader who offers them the chance to live under democracy, freedom of conscience and the benefits of the resources of their own land?
As Ocalan suggested in his reply, the writers of the Guardian editorial would do well to evaluate the viewpoints of the participants in and benefactors of the Kurdish struggle, such as those in the now autonomous Syrian Kurdistan region, before offering any further comments and analyses.
Every civilization battling with its demise persecutes new thinkers, instead of listening to them. Just as two thousand years ago another revolutionary Middle Eastern thinker, Jesus Christ, was wrongly persecuted, today the Kurdish leader who is seeking to bring Renaissance and Reformation to the region, is suffering similar treatment from western educated commentators, who have not recognized that Ocalan's theories reflect those of the tradition that has granted them the freedom, human rights and prosperity they enjoy.
Abdullah Ocalan relinquished control of the Kurdish people's struggle for freedom when he was imprisoned fourteen years ago. Nevertheless they have continued without him and will do so until peace is achieved in Kurdistan. Even while incarcerated, Ocalan has aided the peace process whenever he has been permitted by the Turkish Government.
Far from fearing him, the Kurdish people love him. His writings and his new ideas are giving Kurdish people, especially Kurdish women, hope for freedom from dictators and corrupt leaders imposed on them by western and eastern imperialists intent on accessing cheap oil and other raw materials from the Middle East and Asia. Ocalan's response to the Guardian editorial implies that some intellectuals in western countries are prepared to twist the truth to serve specific interests without regard for human rights.
Here it is in full:
On Thursday 5 December 2013, The Guardian published an editorial article on the occasion of Nelson Mandela's death. The article included a significant(!) comparison between Mandela and some other names like Jawaharlal Nehru, Aung Sang Suu Kyi, and me. As long as they approach the issue with a hegemon's mindset, the potentates will certainly continue to make such comparisons among those figures winning the affection of their peoples. However, any comparison has its own inner problems.
The time of the struggles, varying geographic and political conditions and even the characteristic differences between the figures will render such comparisons problematic. First of all, for me, being remembered together with a leader for whom all the world shed tears shows the extent to which our struggle line has taken universal dimensions. It also demonstrates the fact that our case couldn't be explained as a struggle only against an unjust treatment.
Writing on the capabilities of a leader with exemplary methods of struggle and negotiation just after his death needs some more pondering on the history and politics of risk-takers, in order to get a better understanding of the conditions of those who haven't been afraid of struggling in the front line throughout history.
There are clear-cut differences between the front-line strugglers and deskbound analysts. The greatest difference is to witness the death of your comrades and your people, live the experience moment to moment, and do right and wrong. Restricting the esteem and dignity of such an important leader with "the prison' is a beleaguered approach which holds in contempt the self-realized political struggle of a people with over 40 million population voluntarily approving this leader as the representation of their own will. How objective and just would it be to turn a blind eye on the national identity the Kurdish people have achieved after a 40-year-long freedom struggle, and on our peace efforts for a democratic solution to the Kurdish question?
Comparing me with Nelson Mandela in your article, you had referred to me as "feared and worshipped". Here, not only can I see more easily the writer's desire to be the state chronicle of a history which tramples on the world's oppressed, but also I discern the codes of the purposive enmity harboured against both of the compared figures, whose only resource for facing the enslaving, massacre and denial policies are their own self-belief.
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