ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Since the age of 19, Özlem Alev Demirel has been involved in politics professionally and has held many important and senior roles at state and parliamentary level in Germany. Now 35, Demirel is one of two leading candidates for The Left party of Germany in the upcoming European Union Parliament elections.
Forced to flee her home in Malatya, Kurdistan of Turkey, with her family at the age of 5, Demirel has since been involved in various forms of activism as she strives to be a voice for her community.
“I have always been fascinated with politics, it has become my life,” she told Kurdistan 24 at her office in Dusseldorf.
When she was 19, Demirel was elected on the Cologne student council. She was later voted as a member of the Municipal Affairs Committee for The Left party in North Rhine-Westphalia. During that time, she also served as a spokesperson in the state parliament.
Demirel said her party wants freedom for all and is against the oppression of vulnerable groups.
“In short, our program involves the following mandates: we are socialists, we are helpers, and we believe in an inclusive future,” she told Kurdistan 24.
“We support human rights,” the 35-year-old added. “There are a lot of people who suffer injustices today.”
Demirel, a graduate from the University of Bonn, said she is proud of her Kurdish identity and at the opportunity to erect her campaign posters across the streets of Dusseldorf, Germany, where she currently lives.
“We support all kinds of people, whatever their nationality, religion, color, background, or gender,” she told Kurdistan 24. “The Left party does not believe in racism or any other ‘-isms,’ and we want to give those people who do a red card.”
Demirel is an Alevi Kurd who comes from a socialist family. Because of their background, her family was forced to flee their home in Malatya and seek refuge in Germany in 1989.
“I am working hard to be a voice, so others do not have to flee their countries,” she stated. “I believe all people should be able to celebrate and practice their beliefs and identities freely in their home nations.”
In Germany alone, 41 parties and lists are competing in the upcoming EU parliamentary elections. Demirel hopes to be a voice for Kurds in Germany and, indeed, around the world, within the EU Parliament.
(Additional reporting by Kawa Mohammed Amin)