Kurdish and Baloch activists demonstrated together for their rights in front of the UN building in Geneva.

Kurdish and Baloch organisations held a joint demonstration in front of the UN headquarters in Geneva. The Kurdish Community in Switzerland (CDK-S) has been holding a vigil for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan in front of the United Nations building every Wednesday since the beginning of 2021, while the Baloch People’s Congress, Baloch Voice Association and Voice for Baloch Missing Persons have been demanding attention for Balochistan from the UN in a three-day action since Monday.

The vigil began, as every Wednesday, with a minute of silence in memory of those who died in the Kurdish liberation struggle. Today, the activists paid tribute to Zîlan (Zeynep Kınacı), who blew herself up in a Turkish military unit in Dersim 27 years ago, setting a beacon for the Kurdish freedom movement.

Mehmet Latif Çelebi, the co-chair of the Kurdish Community Centre in Geneva, gave a speech referring to the quadripartition of Kurdistan by the Treaty of Lausanne one hundred years ago. Çelebi said that Kurds have been protesting in front of the UN building for thirty months against the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan and that their patience is now overstretched. In his speech, Çelebi criticised international organisations for ignoring this illegal isolation. There has been no sign of life from Abdullah Öcalan, who has been held on the Turkish prison island of Imrali since 1999, or his three fellow prisoners since March 2021. The UN Human Rights Committee called on Turkey last year to grant Öcalan immediate access to his legal counsel. Çelebi said that the freedom of the Kurds is directly related to Öcalan’s freedom. The PKK founder is considered a Kurdish leader and key figure for a solution to the Kurdish question.

Munir Mengal, the president of the Paris-based NGO Baloch Voice Association, said in his speech that Kurds and Baloch historically share the same fate. Balochistan is located in Pakistani and Iranian territory and Mengal said that his country was occupied like Kurdistan. He demanded the release of Abdullah Öcalan and all political prisoners. He said that was one of the reasons why Baloch organisations were demonstrating in front of the UN headquarters. “Today we have gathered here to voice our common demands as Kurds and Baluchis,” said Munir Mengal.

Another speaker was Prof. Naela Quadri Baloch, speaker of the exile parliament “Baloch People’s Congress”. She pointed to pictures of the Kurdish women Sakine Cansız, Leyla Şaylemez and Fidan Doğan, who were murdered in Paris in 2013, and said that the fighting Kurdish women were their sisters. The Baloch and Kurdish struggle histories have similarities, and the two sibling peoples must work together in the international arena, Naela Quadri Baloch said.

After the speeches, those present held a sit-in.


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