An open letter to Abdullah Ocalan

Danielle Mitterand

France Libertes
Foundation Danielle Mitterand
September 1, 1998

Dear President Ocalan,
As you can imagine, it was with the greatest satisfaction that I learned of your party’s decision to declare a cease-fire. For a long time now, as you are aware, I have been wanting your party to take the path of political and diplomatic struggle. I really want to give you encouragement on that path even though I know it can be difficult.

Your enemies will very likely refuse to listen to you at first and are likely to seek to knock you off course, but you will have to stand firm. The friends of the Kurds will give full support to your position, of that you can be certain. Across the world peaceful struggles are developing out of the struggles of peoples who had previously opted for armed resistance. As you know, my preference is for peaceful struggle and I believe that the same is true of the people themselves, who increasingly reject violence since they know that it brings them only greater tragedies.
I wish also to inform you how closely I am following the development of the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan. I think this desire to build a democratic Kurdistan in Iraq presents a real opportunity for the whole Kurdish people. If this democratic trend could develop, it would be a major step towards peace for the Kurds and for the Iraqi people too. I regret the fact that you have not made a clearer statement of intentions on the prospects for a reconciliation between the Kurdish parties in Iraq and have not been able to commit yourself to halting military action in that region. This obviously does not assist them in establishing peace.
The initial reactions from the Turkish authorities do not appear conducive to dialogue, but time is on your side and you will always have support. International solidarity with the aspirations of peoples deprived of peace and development has already been effective in Guatemala, Colombia, and East Timor.

So I urge you to maintain your position, which can destabilize a government by depriving it of its alibi. You have armed yourself for the most noble of battles, the battle of ideas. I hope that Turkey’s leaders will realize that they too can grasp this opportunity to finally find a peaceful and lasting solution to a problem which fifteen years of war has not resolved. I know how vulnerable some governments feel today as they attempt to maintain a policy of repression against peaceful people. They are facing the relentless denunciation of international public opinion, expressed through non-governmental bodies, such as France Libertes which never gives up.

Looking forward to an initial result, rest assured Abdullah, that I am committed to standing beside you in the bid for peace.

Sincerely yours,

Danielle Mitterand


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