International Initiative's Blog, PM Press Blog

Nazan Üstündağ interviews Havin Guneser on Building Free Life: Dialogues with Ocalan

By Erem Kansoy
Nazan Üstündağ interviews Havin Guneser
August 2020

Nazan Üstündağ interviews Havin Guneser, a spokesperson of the International Initiative “Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan—Peace in Kurdistan” about the book Building Free Life: Dialogues with Öcalan, published by PM Press in 2020.

Havin explains the origin of the book, the challenges of creating a dialogue between its contributors and Abdullah Öcalan, imprisoned by the Turkish state since 1999, and held in solitary confinement since 2015, and introduces some of the ideas explored.

About the book:

Öcalan’s prison writings have mobilized tens of thousands of people and inspired a revolution in the making in Rojava, northern Syria, while also penetrating the insular walls of academia and triggering debate and reflection among countless scholars. But how do you engage in a meaningful dialogue with Abdullah Öcalan when he has been held in total isolation since April 2015? You compile a book of essays written by a globally diverse cast of the most imaginative luminaries of our time, send it to Öcalan’s jailers, and hope that they deliver it to him.

Featured in this extraordinary volume are over a dozen writers, activists, dreamers, and scholars whose ideas have been investigated in Öcalan’s own writings. Now these same people have the unique opportunity to enter into a dialogue with his ideas. Building Free Life is a rich exploration of the most critical issues facing humanity today. In the broad sweep of this dialogue, the contributors explore topics ranging from democratic confederalism to women’s revolution, from the philosophy of history to the crisis of the capitalist system, from religion to Marxism and anarchism, all in an effort to better understand the liberatory social forms that are boldly confronting capitalism and the state.

There can be no boundaries or restrictions for the development of thought. Thus, in the midst of different realities—from closed prisons to open-air prisons—the human mind will find a way to seek the truth. Building Free Life stands as a monument of radical thought, a testament of resilience, and a searchlight illuminating the impulse for freedom.

About the participants:

Havin Guneser is an engineer, journalist, and a women’s rights activist who writes and speaks extensively on the topic of revolution in Rojava. She is one of the spokespersons of the International Initiative “Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan—Peace in Kurdistan” and translator of several of Öcalan’s books.

Nazan Üstündağ received her PhD in 2005 from the Department of Sociology at Indiana University Bloomington. From 2005 to 2018, she worked as an assistant professor at Boğaziçi University Istanbul, Department of Sociology. Currently, she is an Academy in Exile and IIE-Scholar Rescue Fund fellow at Transregionale Studien. Üstündağ has written extensively on social policy, gendered subjectivities, and state violence in Kurdistan. She has also worked as a columnist for the journal Nokta and the newspaper Özgür Gündem, and her opinion pieces have appeared in Internet sites such as Bianet, T24, Roar Magazine, and Jadaliyya. Üstündağ is a member of both Women for Peace and Academics for Peace. She is currently wrapping up a book with the working title Mother, Politician, and Guerilla: The Emergence of a New Political Cosmology in Kurdistan through Women’s Bodies and Speech.

The International Initiative “Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan—Peace in Kurdistan” is a multinational peace initiative for the release of Abdullah Öcalan and a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question. It was established immediately after Öcalan’s abduction from Nairobi and handing over to the Republic of Turkey on February 15, 1999, following a clandestine operation by an alliance of secret services. Part of its activity is the publication of Abdullah Öcalan’s works.

For more information about the International Initiative, visit:

Building Free Life: Dialogues with Öcalan

Back to Abdullah Öcalan’s Page