october 05, 2023
First of all, I gratefully and respectfully would like to commemorate Seyit Evran on behalf of the leadership of our party. As his last will and testament to us, he said, “Stay in peace and love.” And we answer him: “Rest in peace. Your pen, camera and gun are now in the hands of your comrades. They will continue your struggle. Your comrades and all your loved ones will re-evaluate their own stance and praxis upon your martyrdom. They are even more determined, assertive and strong-willed and they will develop our struggle for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo and the solution of the Kurdish question more strongly in the coming period. Thereby they will keep the memories of all martyrs alive and achieve their goals.”
Indeed, as freedom movement we have managed to form a free press beginning from Mazlum Doğan to Seyit Evran. There is like an army of members of the free press and there is also like an army of martyrs that formed the free press. The day that comrade Seyit Evran lost his life, was also the 12th anniversary of the martyrdom of Comrade Alişer Koçgiri, who made great contributions to the work of the free press in the early 1990s. He fell together with the comrades Rustem, Çiçek and Rozerîn in an enemy attack [on the south Kurdish region of] Xakurkê. That period was a burning period of our struggle, just like it is now. In this context, I would also like to respectfully commemorate Alişer Koçgiri and his comrades, and express my love and gratitude on the 12th anniversary of their martyrdom.
The first week of October also marks the 26th anniversary of the martyrdom of comrade Zeynep, comrade Gurbetelli Ersöz, who, also like the comrades Seyit and Alişer, made great contributions to the free press struggle in Northern Kurdistan and Turkey in the early and mid 90s. She was martyred together with 25 comrades on October 8, 1997. They fell while working, struggling and fighting on the grounds of Zap, Metîna and Garê, which are right now writing modern epics of resistance.
The attacking enemy was the same enemy. It was the Turkish state attacking and the KDP collaborating and betraying. Within such an attack, we lost one of the most valuable workers and militants of the free press; comrade Zeynep. On this occasion, I would also like to commemorate comrade Gurbetelli Ersöz and her 25 comrades and would also like to express my love and gratitude towards them.
Keeping the memory of all these comrades alive and achieving their goal is the fundamental promise and determination of our movement, of all of us, of us. For 26 years we have struggled to achieve the goal of comrade Zeynep with this determination. As my friend Seyit expressed, the tale will continue. As Rêber Apo [Abdullah Öcalan] stated, the PKK is a novel, a poem that has no end, that continues to be written. As the story continues, the struggle continues until the ruling state system, the mentality and politics that created it are destroyed and humanity reaches a level where women, the youth and people can live freely on the basis of freedom.
By looking at the history of our struggle for freedom, the history of free press work can be seen as a branch of it. In other words, one dimension of our history is propaganda and agitation work. We did this verbally at first, but then we carried out this work on the basis of armed propaganda. Of course, in this process, the press and broadcasting started to come into play step by step. And since the 1990s, we have been carrying out propaganda and agitation work mainly through the press and broadcasting. Undoubtedly, the pioneer, the conductor and the leader of this work, more than any other work, is Rêber Apo.
When the first anniversary of the martyrdom of Comrade Haki Karer was approaching, Rêber Apo wrote a 7-page memorial article titled ‘In memory of Haki Karer’. Comrade Fuat also wrote a poem and called it ‘I was Human’. In fact, I can say that our party literature started with these. Before that, Rêber Apo had prepared the draft party program. With a meeting held in the spring of 1978, it was decided to form a Central Editorial Board and to publish a central publication organ as a magazine on an illegal basis. Such a board was formed in the center of Amed [Turkish name Diyarbakir], in which I also took part in.
Rêber Apo was directing the board and Mazlum Doğan and Hayri Durmuş were the main members. There were meetings in June of the year, as we held editorial board meetings in various periods. Rêber Apo made evaluations regarding the essential questions of: How are we going to do this work? What kind of program should we start with? How should we continue, what should our principles be? We held discussions again and again and so we prepared our plans. On the hand hand, we started to make a program for the articles, while comrade Mazlum was looking for printing options on the other hand.
In July in Amed, Rêber Apo wrote the manifesto ‘The Path of the Revolution in Kurdistan’. This was actually a very important step for our publishing activities and so during the month of August, we prepared ‘The Path of the Revolution in Kurdistan’ for printing. As the Editorial Board, we examined it, put it on waxed paper, typed it, prepared the cover. We carried out these activities in Amed as we were centralized there, but we also carried it to Elezîz [Turkish name Elazig ] and Çewlig [Turkish name Bingöl], and one end went as far as Dersim [Turkish name Tunceli].
In the end, we printed the cover in Amed, with the press system we had prepared. We were doing it with the materials we found and we actually printed something close to the original edition. We printed the cover of five or six issues one night in the house we had prepared in Bağlar until the morning. Rêber Apo came in the morning, he checked and looked at our work. He was really weighing what we were doing, how we were doing it, how much we could do, how much we could not do. He was evaluating how skillful we would be, how much we could accomplish.
Finally, we moved the covers and other preparations to Çewlig. In Çewlig, we typeset the book on a typewriter. We printed it with a duplicator machine during the holiday vacation at the beginning of September. When it was finished, we were very excited. Just as comrades feel the happiness of success every time Serxwebûn [the central organ of the PKK] comes out, every time a publication is published. We felt the same happiness at that time. We printed a few hundred copies, turned them into magazines and put them on the covers. We decided to keep a third or nearly half of them for later and to distribute a little more than half of them first hand. We handed a third of the half to our friend Hüseyin Durmuş to keep. He was in charge of Çewlig at the time. He was caught while he was taking it somewhere to hide it. So when the numbers we were going to hide were captured, we decided that we should distribute all of them and everywhere, so that it would not be easy for the enemy to collect it. Otherwise, as we have seen, there would be everything lost, if there would be a mass capture. So we distributed the rest. One of the most fundamental preparatory work for the PKK Founding Congress that took place on November 27, 1978 was the writing and publication of the Manifesto of the Path of the Kurdistan Revolution. The first issue of Serxwebûn magazine was published.
Then we continued with another 4 or 5 issues until October or November 1979. Our friend Mazlum was arrested and our printing house got raided by police. Our publication activities were interrupted.
Afterwards, I know that the organizational recovery took place abroad in Lebanon-Palestine. An important decision of the planning made after the first PKK Conference held in July 1981 in the Bekaa Valley was to publish our central organ Serxwebûn from Europe as a regular central publication and the work was divided accordingly. A group of friends was assigned to go to Europe and to carry out these activities.
In Kurdistan, it was Rêber Apo who mainly carried out the theoretical work. In the winter of 1981-82, he carried out a very intensive theoretical activity, research and study and tried to verbalized his thoughts. These were written down, organized and turned into books expressing the basic strategic line. As a matter of fact, the Second Congress approved these books and the so-called second period of partyization, the period starting with the August 15 breakthrough, developed on such a deep theoretical work. This was also the preparation of the basic material for the publication of Serxwebûn. We collected all of this theoretical work, starting with the conference conclusions, transferred it to Europe and in January 1982 the first issue was published.
I remember the arrival of the first issue in the Middle East, in Lebanon and Syria very well. For days, Rêber Apo made efforts to ensure its arrival. When it was heard that it had arrived at the airport, he waited in front of the door for it to be brought. I can still visualize how he opened the package and examined the first issue. It was so exciting, so impressive! Now Serxwebûn published its 500th issue last August. And September we started the second 500th issue, the 501st issue is being published. In addition to the regular monthly issues, there were also special issues. There is also the first beginning of five or six issues that were published illegally in Kurdistan in 1978-79. If all these are taken into consideration. It reaches 520-530 issues. The regular, uninterrupted publication of Serxwebûn is a first in Kurdish history. In fact, it is the first in the history of revolutions. It is one of the greatest events in history that a movement such as the PKK, which is waging a struggle for freedom in the conditions of Kurdistan, under the most severe conditions of colonialist genocidal attacks, has continued its monthly publication for 42 years without interruption, despite attacks such as the international conspiracy. One of the greatest victories of the Kurdistan Freedom Revolution. Serxwebûn became the voice of the revolution there. It became its memory, its consciousness. Rêber Apo’s feelings, thoughts were all published here. It educated and enlightened the party, freedom fighters, our patriotic people and humanity. It still continues to be light and enlightenment.
While friends take great strength from this, enemies are undoubtedly devastated. The enemy is complaining why they could not interrupt it, why they could not prevent it. They are obviously intensifying their pressure and will intensify it even more.
Our second press intensification was over Europe from 1982 onwards. This is one of the contributions of European democracy – whatever democracy it can be called – to the people of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan freedom struggle. In the late ’80s-early ’90s, it started in Turkey and North Kurdistan and spread to South Kurdistan. Already in the mid ’80s, Arabic and Kurdish publishing in the form of magazines developed in Rojava, on the Lebanon-Syria line. Later it spread to Rojhilat and Iran. Of course, the most important, the most conflicted and the places where the most struggle took place were our press and broadcasting activities in Istanbul and Amed. The accumulation of experience and preparations through Europe were overflowed.
Just as it had started in the country from Amed, realized in triangle of Amed, Elezîz, Çewlig, and flowed from there to the Middle East and Europe, at the end of ’80s there was another overflow from Europe to Turkey and Kurdistan. We did great preparatory work on this issue in 1987-88. We made a lot of research and analysis on how favorable the conditions were, how much opportunity the legal situation gave. Some associations were being established, magazines and newspapers were being published. We thought that we could be one of them, that we could take advantage of that environment. In the spring of 1988 we started an overflow attempt through Europe. Anyway, we were captured afterwards; it is known. We had to follow from the prison.
Those who arrested us were trying to accuse us mainly because of these activities. They criminalized our press and broadcasting activities, our propaganda and agitation work. They were very much against the thoughts of PKK. They were against freedom, equality, democracy and they were against Kurdish freedom. They feared and avoided it like the plague. But still we managed to have progress. In 1989, we started our first press work in Istanbul as the ‘Social Resurrection Magazine’. Our friends and patriots who took the initiative and carried out this task published the magazine ‘Social Resurrection’, just like Serxwebûn in 1978-79. Of course, this was a legal publication, not an illegal work, but it only lasted 5-6 issues until it was immediately shut down.
The September 12th coup government could no longer tolerate such publishing. But even if they closed it down, even if they banned it, the guerrilla had broken this censorship. People’s resistance was developing. While they were banning our publishing, serhildans [popular uprisings] began to develop in Cizîr [Turkish name Cizre] and Nisêbin [Turkish name Nusaybin]. Society began to break away from the colonialist genocidal system. The way for democratic politics began to open up. Thus, opportunities and conditions emerged for the free press to work on the basis of overcoming difficulties, overcoming obstacles and paying the price. On this basis, many revolutionaries, patriots, valuable people, women and men, under various names, developed a press publishing activity to reveal the effects of the ongoing freedom struggle in Kurdistan on Turkey’s democracy and enlightenment, and to expose the conspiracy attacks and massacres of the special warfare. Under many names such as Özgür Gündem, Özgür Halk, Yeni Ülke. Some were banned after a few months, some were shut down after a few years. But as the colonialist, fascist, genocidal mentality and politics tried to silence the free press, their work developed and strengthened its claim and will to develop and spread itself much more.
It was like a war zone. Offices were bombed, distributors were murdered, reporters were arrested. So much so that this great field of work, which created the Gurbetelli Ersözs, Seyit Evrans, Alişer Koçgiris, united a great power up to the Apê Musas and led to an enlightenment revolution.
This struggle was carried out even though we were oppressed, even though we constantly gave martyrs. Hundreds and thousands of freedom fighters trained themselves on this basis. They were trained on the basis of this work and joined the ranks of the freedom struggle. This tradition still continues. As my friend Seyit stated, the tale continues, the struggle continues. No matter how many obstacles there are, no matter how much pressure is developed, no matter the massacres, bans, restrictions, the Kurdish people, youth, women, Turkey’s revolutionary democratic circles, socialists continue their work to improve the freedom of the press, to strengthen the struggle for a free press, and on this basis, while exposing the fascist, colonialist, genocidal mentality and politics, they continue their work to educate, organize and draw society into struggle.
As long as society exists, as long as the claim, aim and consciousness of the will for freedom is alive, it is clear that this struggle and this work will continue. No one could or will prevent this struggle.
There are tens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of martyrs, that lost their lives in the struggle for a free press. They are all heroes and militants who participated in the struggle with consciousness, conviction and willpower, who were present in every field and front of the struggle, who fought with great courage and sacrifice to lead the struggle to a success.
I am one of the people who had the opportunity and chance to work with all four of these friends for a long time and very closely. In this sense, I can consider myself lucky. But of course, something I am always aware of is, that these martyrdoms also put much heavier duties and responsibilities on our shoulders.
I also worked with comrade Mazlum Doğan for a long time, when we served together in the central Editorial Board. Rêber Apo once said; Mazlum was ‘the consciousness pulp of our party’. He joined us with consciousness and faith, and took a leading position til the end. He was indeed a great educator and studying 500 pages a day. He had an uncompromising ideological stance, sharp as a knife in the ideological struggle. He also had the broadest understanding and attitude towards political action and never separated his propaganda and agitation work from his organizing and action work. He was not only an educator, he also assumed organizational responsibilities at the most advanced level, at the forefront. The fact that he was the initiator of the prison resistance is enough for us to see and understand his reality. Rêber Apo called him ‘Modern Kawa’ [reflecting on the blacksmith of the old epic]. He stated that the correct understanding and implementation of the party’s policy has be following the life of Mazlum Dogan. That certainly does not express a situation where one can do one but not the other, where what happens in one work cannot happen in the other.
I also knew comrade Alişer Koçgiri, for a long time, as we have also worked together. Comrade Alişer had a similar sensitivity. How many similar characteristics these four comrades had! His consciousness, anger and hatred towards the enemy was at its peak. He had a very calm appearance, but inside his personality volcanoes were constantly erupting. He was always experiencing a great intensity of emotion and thought. But outsiders might have thought that he was a very calm person, not interested in much, and kept to himself. Only those who paid close attention and got to know him would realize that this was not the case. Comrade Alişer always combined propaganda and agitation with organization and action, and assumed organizational responsibility. He was a guerrilla commander and fighter. He was a comrade who carried out various tasks and responsibilities in many areas from Koçgiri to Southern Kurdistan.
Regarding comrade Zeynep; We can say more striking things about comrade Gurbetelli Ersöz. Indeed, as a woman revolutionary and patriot, she assumed duties and responsibilities at the forefront both in press work and in the guerrilla. In the most difficult environment, she participated and pioneered in organizing the free press, assuming responsibility for it, and overcoming difficulties and obstacles. She was the solver of the most difficult problems. Of course, we heard all this from friends, we read it in articles, but we got to know her personality in the mountains, in the guerrilla struggle.
It would not be wrong if I said that I have never seen another friend who has transitioned, adapted as fast as comrade Zeynep from another work to guerrilla work, from the city environment to the mountain environment. As if she had undergone guerrilla training for many years starting from scratch, as if she had faced guerrilla problems face to face, when it came to the Medya Defense Zones, Zap, Avaşîn, Metîna, the environment of central headquarters work, she adapted quickly and adequately, as if she had been here for decades.
Let alone training, let alone trying to adapt, she was in a position to train the untrained, to participate at the forefront in solving the problems that arose, to quickly carry out all kinds of guerrilla commander duties. In the summer of 1996, she served as the commander of the ARGK main headquarters. We worked together in Zap, Garê and Metîna. We attended joint meetings, dealt with organizational problems, war problems, training problems. I can say that she was really ahead of everyone in solving problems, convincing and training people, and establishing developing relations with people. Zeynep solved the most difficult problems and reached from one place to another, from one task to another before anyone else. That is also how her martyrdom took place. In the face of some problems that could not be solved by others, she took the responsibility of solving them herself, and this sense of responsibility led her to face more difficulties and obstacles, and she was martyred in an enemy ambush, in the face of a brutal attack.
This is Zeynep. She was not one of the earliest participants in the women’s guerrilla phase, but she was one of our friends who developed the fastest, stepped forward the most, assumed the most duties and responsibilities, and carried out the work of women’s guerrillaization at the forefront by taking the most ideological, organizational and military work in the most difficult period. She took part at a pioneering level in the realization and practice of the YAJK organization.
Many people know comrade Seyit Evran. He was a comrade who stayed in the guerrilla for a long time, fought in many areas of North Kurdistan, especially between Amed and Dersim, and after the conspiracy, he focused more on propaganda agitation activities, press and broadcasting activities and made great efforts in this regard, trained tens and hundreds of free press cadres. Comrade Seyit really had a style of thinking while doing and doing while thinking.
He didn’t write big books, he didn’t engage in abstract theoretical research, studies or complicated discussions. But he was one of the rare people who could express life in the simplest, most concise and shortest way. Sometimes with a sentence, sometimes with a smile, sometimes with a gesture or behavior, he could tell many things. In fact, for a hyperactive person, he was relentless and tireless; in other words, he worked day and night for the development of the struggle for freedom, for the promotion of the guerrilla’s struggle and the struggle of the people to humanity, and for the education of society on this basis. He did not let fatigue or illness stand in the way of anything, he made a great effort in four parts of Kurdistan, even in Russia and Armenia, wherever he could reach. In this sense, he had a quick-thinking, quick decision-making and planning, productive style. He was indeed able to carry out a great effort. And he continued until his last breath.
Indeed, in such a heavy and difficult environment, such an intensity of emotion, thought and such a short, simple expression is not easy to find. Comrade Seyit was one of the people that expressed his own truth the best. And he carried out life by understanding and loving life, by loving and knowing the struggle he lived, by organizing himself, and he tried to do all he could do at the most advanced level. He took part in every aspect of the freedom struggle that developed under the leadership of Rêber Apo and became the creator of a great legacy.
Even though difficulties and obstacles wore him down, he never lost sight of his goal and never stopped working for it. Even in the most difficult conditions and environment, when he found an environment that would serve the struggle and enlighten the struggle, he jumped out of his seat and became the agitator of the revolutionary work without listening to any obstacles, pain or difficulties. He lived journalism, education, enlightenment, propaganda-agitation work with love, passion and enthusiasm. With great effort, he carried out practical activities and made great contributions.
Press and broadcasting work is the main field of propaganda and agitation, as it is the field of education. Education of the party, education of the patriotic people, education of women, youth, education of our international friends, education of humanity. Previously, as a movement, we did this in verbal propaganda and agitation and we were successful. We also did it on the basis of armed propaganda with the guerrilla; we were successful there too. We also did it through the press and media.
We need to know this well; action can only be successful with an organization. With an organization, you have power, and with power you can take action. Otherwise there can be no action. Organization is also created through education. Without education, you cannot organize people, you cannot convince them, you cannot win their hearts and minds. You cannot shape their emotions and thoughts. Organizational work essentially means educational work. Education is propaganda and agitation, and we are carrying this out in this period through the media.
That is to say, the work that creates organization and action, the work that carries out education is press and broadcasting work. In that case, the engine, the first power of the development of the freedom struggle, of the revolutionary struggle is the work of the press, propaganda and agitation. In this respect, we have to not see it as outside the struggle, outside the revolutionary, outside of practice. We shall never separate education from organizing and action.
Mazlum Doğan ensured this integrity. Alişer Koçgiri, Gurbetelli Ersöz, Seyit Evran ensured this integrity. This was the right policy. When propaganda and agitation are detached from organization and action they loose their meaning, as they are detached from their goal. And a purposeless work has no meaning, no value.
On the other hand, if the organization does not meet the needs of the action and is not shaped according to its characteristics, the propaganda-agitation work cannot play the desired, targeted educational role. The form and essence of our work will be in accordance with this. Our words, our writing, our style of expression, our behavior, our clothing, our attire; everything we do will be in harmony with our purpose. Our purpose will serve our success.
Surely, there are also some inadequacies and mistakes in this regard. We discuss, we also have criticism and self-criticism processes at various levels. There are also those who cannot give correct and adequate answers to the questions of why we do propaganda-agitation or why we carry out press and broadcasting activities. There is carelessness in this regard. There are attitudes and behaviors that do not adequately and correctly understand their own role and mission and cannot be according to its requirements.
Moreover, the reliance on society is weak. It’s not that there is none, but as the free press, we are actually carrying out an activity of educating a people, a society. This is the goal of our press and broadcasting activities. So it has to be based on the target. It has to be socialist. It has to be intertwined with society. It has to rely on the power of society. It has to involve society more, as it still does not sufficiently.
There is too much narrowness, which should not be the case. It is often said; professional activity, non-professional activity. This distinction is wrong. Yes, propaganda-agitation has its own characteristics. In order to be successful, and therefore to play a role in educational work, we need to know those characteristics. But we should not say that only a limited amount of some people can do it. We should involve the youth and women as much as we can. We should involve more people in general in this works. In fact, the work of the free press should be like an academy, it should play a role like a school. It should be a field of organization, a field of education and organization. It should be a center of attraction. It has to become a center for drawing society into the struggle.
If we are to correctly understand the reality and the legacy of the martyrs of the free press, from Mazlum Doğan to Seyit Evran, then we need to approach these propaganda-agitation activities in this way. If we approach it like this, we will be successful in any case. It is not a matter of power, it is not a matter of means, it is not a matter of technique. Yes, technique is also important. Other things are also important, but we should not depend too much on them. Even when there was no written medium, Rêber Apo and those who joined him did it with language and the power of language. An interviewer asked Rêber Apo; what is the greatest weapon? Without hesitation he answers ‘my tongue’. Rêber Apo’s greatest tool and weapon in accomplishing all his tasks was his language. In the ’80s and ’90s, the guerrilla became the greatest educational force of society.
We can do it with the press, with newspapers, magazines, radio, television, digital media, any method, any tool. We can do it better than anyone else if we focus on it. Because we are doing this for a purpose. We are doing it for a goal. We don’t do it to fill our bellies. We do it to create a free life. We do it to destroy fascism, colonialism, genocide, mentality and politics. We are doing it to destroy the Imrali torture and isolation system, the genocide system, and to ensure the physical freedom of Rêber Apo. We are doing this to solve the ‘Kurdish question’, to make Kurdistan, free Turkey, the Middle East and democratic humanity live freely. They say the most truthful words, show the best behavior, make the best news, write the most profound articles, make the most beautiful speeches. This has to be believed to the end, because there is no hypocrisy in them. They live what they say and write. They write what they live. They are not among those who live differently, say and write differently. They do not have a dual, triple personality. They are in such a holistic personality. Therefore, they are impressive, they are convincing. Therefore, we need to be like this.
The idea of the free press is the one created by the martyrs of the free press. No one should see this in any other way, no one should take it in any other way. There are surely difficulties and obstacles, but with great love, passion, labor and effort, it is possible to overcome these. And this is how it is happening. A passionate, great struggle is going on and the sharpest struggle is actually taking place here.
The revolution of enlightenment initiated by Rêber Apo continues and grows on the basis of supporting the struggle of women and youth on the basis of spreading beyond Kurdish society to the Middle East and humanity. The engine of this is the press and broadcasting activities. This engine will always work, and our enlightenment revolution will always grow, deepen and expand.
Once again, I would like to respectfully commemorate the comrades Mazlum, Alişer, Zeynep and Seyit, and all our martyrs of the free press martyrs, and all our martyrs of the freedom struggle, with love and gratitude. I wish great success to all comrades who passionately carry out propaganda-agitation work in the footsteps and under the command of our martyrs.