World Council of Churches Office of Communication
Press Release
150 route de Ferney, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
E-mail: media

19 Febuary 1999


The following statement was made at a press conference held in the Ecumenical Centre, Geneva, this afternoon (Friday, 19 February) at 1505hrs by Ms Kristine Greenaway, Director of Communication for the World Council of Churches.

The statement was preceded by the reading of an appeal by Mr Ismael, a member of the Kurdish community in Switzerland. A copy of this (in French only) is available on request.

Statement by World Council of Churches:

At around 1400hrs this afternoon, Friday 19 February, members of the Kurdish community in Switzerland came to the World Council of Churches at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva.

Leaders of the group met the WCC General Secretary, Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser, and presented him with an appeal concerning Abdullah Ocalan.

The group expressed its concern over the arrest and detention of their leader Abdullah Ocalan by the Turkish authorities and called on the WCC to intervene in this matter.

The WCC has followed the issue of the Kurdish people over the years. Given the WCCís stated commitment to human rights and self-determination, the WCC calls on its member churches in Europe to seize this opportunity and urge their respective governments to seek a peaceful political solution to the plight of the Kurdish people.

The Kurdish community has expressed concerns about the physical safety and security of Abdullah Ocalan. The WCC appeals to the Turkish government to ensure Mr Ocalanís safety and that he can receive visits from his lawyers. The WCC further appeals to the Turkish authorities to ensure Mr Ocalan receives a fair trial in accordance with international norms and procedures of the Rule of Law.

For more information contact:
John Newbury, Press & Information Officer
tel.: (+41 22) 791 6152 (office);
tel.: (+41 22) 369 3726 (home)
e-mail: media
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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 336, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.