The Irish peace accord known as the Good Friday Agreement is 15 years old this month. For almost all that time, Abdullah Ocalan, a founder of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, has been in prison in Turkey.
Despite this, he has become a voice for peace, a leader willing to offer the hand of friendship to those he has fought against for most of his life.
Persuading enemies that there are alternative ways to resolve long-standing differences takes patience and a willingness to engage in dialogue, but most important, it requires leadership.
Ocalan has demonstrated that leadership. Despite incarceration, he has forged a road map to peace that commits the Kurdish people to democracy and freedom and tolerance. He argues that it is time to “silence the weapons and let the ideas and politics speak.” Ocalan wants a “new beginning” that will bring the Kurdish people’s struggle into a new phase — a political phase in which they seek through negotiation to create an equal, free and democratic country for “all peoples and cultures.”
I commend him for his leadership and vision and urge the Turkish government to release him.
Adams is the president of Sinn Fein
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