A 21-year-old Kurd, Mahsun Özen, set himself alight in the district of Bayraklı in İzmir province on the night of 28 December in protest at the incarceration of Kurdish people's leader Abdullah Öcalan.
A 21-year-old Kurd, Mahsun Özen, set himself alight in the district of Bayraklı in İzmir province on the night of 28 December in protest at the incarceration of Kurdish people's leader Abdullah Öcalan. The charred corpse of Mahsun Özen was found in the woods near the peace monument in the district of Bayraklı on 30 December and taken to the Izmir morgue.
Mahsun Özen was born on 15 August 1992 in the village of Dengıza (Serenli) in the Savur district of Mardin province. Due to state persecution his family moved to Izmir when he was only 7 years old.
Mahsun Özen was arrested in 2011 and accused of membership of the PKK, being released at the end of 2012 after nearly two years on remand in the Kırıklar F-Type prison.
Özen's elder brother Halit Özen (Çekdar Cudi) was killed in 2004 in a clash on Cudi mountain, and an elder sister is also reported to be in the ranks of the HPG (People's Defence Forces).
Özen's father, Burhan Özen, said his son had left behind a two-page letter explaining his action, entitled: "Both life and death are virtues". He said: "My son set himself alight in protest at the prison conditions of our leader Abdullah Öcalan. My son is a martyr of the Kurdish people, like his brother."
Parts of the letter read as follows:
"In a world where death and massacres have become commonplace, the only thing a human being can say is freedom. To die for the sake of a free life is to achieve the goal. We can see that, not of mine or ours, but the revolutionary power created by the deaths of leaders in history persists. The raiders of capitalist modernity should not forget that the leaders they murder are only physically destroyed and will become an invisible force.
The insistence of leader Apo on life and his resistance has spread beyond Kurdistan and become an inspiration for oppressed peoples. Those who wish to enter a new year without leader Apo should not forget that the PKK and Kurdish people that have set out with the spirit of uprising and resistance will not halt until they have reached their goal. The Turkish state should be aware of this. It should be prepared for this people to demand the freedom of leader Apo.
That which has been created by the Müslüms, Mustafas and Evins is a sacred and grave responsibility for us. I feel eternal gratitude to the PKK movement martyrs of Kurdistan, the honourable Kurdish people and president Apo. With the belief that the philosophy of leader Apo, who has sparked resistance and opened the way to freedom in this life that has been so despoiled, will attain its goal, I proffer my revolutionary greetings, love and respect....
Long Live President Apo
Long live HPG, YPG, PKK, KCK
Long live the Kurds and Kurdistan
Martyrs are immortal
Brusk Gundi (Mahsun Özen)"