Picture: JESS HURD

ABOUT 1,500 marched in London on Saturday last week to demand the release of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan

Free Ocalan and the Kurds

KURDISH leader Abdullah Ocalan goes on trial for his life in Turkey at the end of this month. Ocalan's trial is a grotesque farce. It will take place in a military court, his lawyers have already been beaten by police, and no one doubts that the presiding judges want to see him hang.

If anyone should be on trial it should be the Turkish state. It has fought a 15 year dirty war against the Kurdish population in south east Turkey. The Turkish army has destroyed over 3,000 villages, murdered 30,000 civilians and driven over three million Kurds from their homes. Yet Turkey is one the 19 supposed democracies which make up NATO.

Protesters on Saturday chanted against the hypocrisy of Tony Blair, who says he wants to stop people being driven from their homes in Kosovo while at the same time he arms Turkey in its war against the Kurds. A further sign of that hypocrisy came last week. NATO decided to fly bombing raids on Yugoslavia from bases in Turkey. "Some NATO planes will take part in the operation from bases in western Anatolia," says the Turkish government.

Planes from the same bases will also be taking off to bomb Kurds in Turkey and northern Iraq. Turkish forces killed 37 Kurdish guerillas on Friday of last week alone. Bombing Yugoslavia from Turkish bases also risks pushing the Cold War between Turkey and Greece towards open conflict.