october 16, 2023
In the previous interview, we have been talking about the 25-years of the Imrali system in its various dimensions to get a holistic perspective. Now we would like to dwell on the various dimensions of Abdullah Öcalan’s 25-year resistance against this. How is a person capable of resisting such a system of torture, isolation and genocide for a quarter of a century? How does one survive in such a environment of severe isolation and torture? Normally it is not possible to survive for 25 years under these circumstances, cut off from society, let alone struggling for that long. Very few people can survive like this. How is it possible to not only survive under these circumstances, but to turn oneself into a fighting force that is a hope for all humanity? This is the reality of Rêber Apo [Abdullah Öcalan]. This is what we call the reality of the leadership, what we call the truth of the leadership.
In fact, in his 5-volume Manifesto for a Democratic Civilization and in other previous prison writings, Rêber Apo made several evaluations about the life in the Imrali system. He expressed how he managed to create life within it, what it is based on, how he survives, how he creates these developments. These evaluations were without any doubt very important. The theoretical theses he presented through his prison writings formed the basis for the paradigm shift of the movement. Rêber Apo managed to express his feelings, understanding and approach to life very clear here.
When the February 15 conspiracy took place, almost everyone’s hopes were dashed, faith was lost. Almost everyone expressed that at one level or another and just very few people did not fall for this. The vast majority, both within the movement, within our party, within our patriotic people, among our international friends, and throughout the world, have already evaluated it in this way. “Everything is finished!”, they used to say. There was also this common saying: “PKK cannot survive any longer than 6 months. Than it will disintegrate and there would not be anything anymore called PKK in this world.” A lot of articles have been written on this basis, and intellectuals, politicians, and a lot of people that think that they know everything discussed this publicly. Those who profited from the international conspiracy and the so-called ‘Kurdish question’ were obviously very happy about this situation. They thought they had “gotten rid of this scourge,” to use their own words. Kurdish patriots and the international friends of the Kurds, were feeling great sorrow and agony. They asked themselves: “Now, is this the end?”. There were those who felt great sorrow, those who were filled up with hate, and those who were severely traumatized. It was because they assessed the situation and thought that now that the struggle had failed, there would be nothing left but a reality of isolation and massacre. They said that: “The history of Öcalan is over, nothing can be done for him anymore.”
When the leadership of our movement declared that we stand by Rêber Apo and will continue to follow him, many of the people and also many of our international friends could not accept it. There were even those, who intervened and said: “Enough of Rêber Apo. Now it is time to listen to us and it is time to do our revolution.” There have been many people who have sought to take advantage of this situation and have tried to get their hands on the gains and structures that have been built through the struggle of the movement.
No one thought that the Imrali system could be survived, that the struggle could continue there, and that the struggle for freedom could even develop there. Those who expressed such thoughts were regarded as dreamers fleeing from reality. It really seemed impossible, as it was commonly known, that a normal person can not survive Imrali. But it was exactly this place, from where on the struggle started to grow. The more we were talking about this reality, the more the people were mocking us and even getting angry at us. They called on us to forget about Rêber Apo. This is a fact that I did not just make up in my mind, and it is not something that was just said by some people. We have got the written proves of this in our archive. And this stance was nothing, that the people just made up. They were looking at themselves, asking themselves if they could take this resistance on a new level, and they said: “I can not.” Hundreds, thousands of political prisoners evaluated their own situation, seeing that they could barely protect themselves when their conditions were even still far away from the ones of Imrali. That is why they could not believe that Rêber Apo would be able to do so. “What can a prisoner of the system of capitalist modernity, a prisoner of the United Nations, do in a place like Imrali, how shell he be able to develop, how shell he even find a chance to think or work?”, was the common question in the minds of the resigned people in the prisons.
Only Rêber Apo believed in himself and took a decision based on his own strength and characteristics. He said: “I will fight on here.” He made a call on the movement and on our people and said: “Give me one chance and follow me.” At the beginning of the international conspiracy, the unity between Rêber Apo and the party leadership was very weak. This is mostly due to the fact that the leadership has taken a completely negative stance. Therefore the most important point was Rêber Apo’s approach. He developed an optimistic and positive attitude in order to form a correct and comprehensive response to the needs and fears of the people. He named the necessity of ending the division and fragmentation, as it can be said that there was no other alternative to it. He had tried a lot of ways and many different methods, that at the end brought him in the situation that he got in. Either he would decide to fight on, and struggle for a successful solution to the ‘Kurdish question’ or he would let things slide. Rêber Apo evaluated the situation and observed this fact clearly. That is why he opted to fight on. Realizing that there would not be any other possible way of finding a solution for such a big question, the leadership of the movement responded: “Yes” and joined Rêber Apo in his struggle. Rêber Apo said to this: “Anyway, there would not be any other option for you.” At a time when Rêber Apo had faced the Imrali system of torture, isolation and genocide despite applying every possible method, what else could our leadership or any of us have done? We couldn’t have done anything. At most, we could have repeated Rêber Apo at a lower level. Even if we had applied practices at or close to the level of Rêber Apo, the point we would get to would have been Imrali. We would have just experienced a repetition. So the important point was not to repeat this practice, but to go beyond what we have done until then. Rêber Apo called on us to go beyond what we had done before, he trusted that we could do it, and he supported us in that. At the same time society trusted in Rêber Apo and formed a unity around him. They rose up against the conspiracy of February 15. The youth, women and all working Kurds in the four parts of the country and also in exile rose in popular uprisings. It was the sacrificial resistance of the people who developed the defense of Rêber Apo under the slogan ‘You cannot darken our sun’. This showed the faithful stance of the people and their trust with Rêber Apo. This was their way to join in Rêber Apos call.
Rêber Apo mainly defined the power of the struggle, the power to resist on Imrali, as a meaningful life. He said that for: “understanding life and finding a way on how to live it”, we should look at the example he is giving. This is also the core of his evaluations in the prison writings. A meaningful life, is a life with meaning. This is transcending the narrow, ordinary material life. The existence as whole, the universe, the world, the society and the life of humanity should nit just be looked at on a materialist level. The crystallization of the significance of one thing gives life its meaning and makes it significant. When material things are loaded with such a significance, then they become a value. Therefore, Rêber Apo does not regard it as right, to see life as the fulfillment of just such simple material needs. He underlined, that such an understanding should not be the outcome of an analysis, done both on emotional, as well as analytical level. He said that beings with the narrowest intellect and power of thought see and do it that way. That means not being able to go beyond and not really differing from animals. If we limit ourselves to a rigid, narrow, material life, then there will be no point at which the human being differs from other species. What is this point of difference? The power of a meaningful life, the power of giving meaning to something, the power to give meaning to life, the power to develop emotion, thought, and a world spirituality and morality. To be able to see that human beings are spiritual beings as much as they are material beings, even more so, and that social life is made up of spiritual patterns, and to be able to take pleasure in this. How is Rêber Apo capable of doing research and deep thinking on these topics? On which basis? Undoubtedly, he has a great deal of practical experience beforehand. Since the mid-60s, he has been educating and developing himself in every aspect, following the events and developments in Kurdistan, Turkey and the world. He stated that he started this work from childhood, that he started to give meaning to life from childhood, from the age of 7, that he chose the path of living meaningfully, that he always questioned the existing life and always doubted its veracity. These are the basic characteristics of Rêber Apo.
These accumulations of experience of this great struggle, guerrilla warfare, the struggle of the party, made it possible for Rêber Apo to develop. He started researches and deepened his thinking, trying to reach a comprehensive, holistic understanding and thought about the universe, the earth, social life, human existence. Rêber Apo has never stepped away from this struggle, he never said something like: “I got trapped here behind these thick walls. I can not get out of here. Life is finished.” On the contrary, he said: “Here live will be created.”
But we have to ask, why the Imrali system even emerged. When Rêber Apo was waging the struggle by forming a party, waging a socialist struggle, waging a guerrilla war, waging a struggle for national liberation, he analyzed the situation according to other examples that exist in the world, and thought that the national problem would probably succeed with the solution of the nation state. When he came to Rome and presented the most reasonable methods to find a solution for the problem, he at the end had to face the torture, isolation and genocidal system of Imrali. Why did this happen? What has been wrong? What would have been necessarily different? What are the things that brought him face to face with the Imrali system of torture, isolation and genocide? How will he overcome it, how will he defeat it? Rêber Apo did not stop asking himself these questions, neither did he hesitate nor was he afraid of these questions. He did not give up on his researches on life, on the contrary, he deepened his researches even more under the conditions of Imrali. He developed his power of giving meaning to something, even further, he developed his power of thought, he came up with new ideas, he made new analyses, and by doing so Rêber Apo created a synthesis, which formed a system that will make it possible for humanity to do historical steps.
This aspect is quite important. The perspective on life, the orientation towards it and how we approach it are essential. The answers to the questions of ‘Why do we live?’, ‘What do we live with?’, ‘How do we live?’ are very important. Rêber Apo has already asked these questions in his prison writings and formulated extensive answers to them. He always criticized the narrow, ordinary, crude, materialist approaches. Rêber Apo criticized this understanding of life. He revealed with broad theoretical analyzes that life does not just consist of that.
These were the main points that kept Rêber Apo the power to stay alive in the system he himself called the ‘Imrali coffin’ for 25 years. This kept him alive, made him so productive, made him able to do what no other human being could do, and even made him able to do on Imrali what he himself could not do when he was outside Imrali. We need to express it like this.
What was Rêber Apo’s attitude towards the conspiracy? By looking at the moment when he was captured by the forces of the counter-guerrilla in Kenya on February 15, he describes like this:
For one or one and a half hour I showed a strong reaction against them. I didn’t answer their questions. I wanted to deny everything and start a process of coarse resistance. Later, reached a certain decision. I came to the conclusion that a mere coarse resistance is what the conspirators have intended me to show. They want to annihilate me. They didn’t want anybody to know how I had been disappeared. So if I had insisted on my first stance of showing a coarse resistance, the cospirators would had succeeded and achieved their aims. In such a case, defeating the conspiracy, shedding light on its various dimensions wouldn’t have been possible and humanity wouldn’t know anything about it. I came to the conclusion that adopting a coarse resistacne would give the conspirators the opportunity to achieve their aims. That’s why I abandoned my first attitude and adopted a new one. be. took a different decision. I decided to struggle, and I did so. I am pursuing my struggle.
There is a difference here; what is that first one-two hour attitude based on? It is based on reflex. What is the other one based on? This attitude is based on the power of the creative mind, it is based on deep questioning, evaluation, forming a meaningful power. One leads to crude resistance, the other to a result-oriented, combative attitude. One means a frontal attack. The other one Rêber Apo later called as a strategy, a way of struggle against the system from within the system. With that change of attitude, Rêber Apo made a fundamental methodical swift, a strategic change. Fighting against the international conspiracy from within the conspiracy. These is important as he decided to struggle in this way.
There have already been similar situations before, for example Rêber Apo was invited to Greece, but when we wanted to go, they didn’t accept him. Instead of reacting against this and insisting on going back, he investigated why this happened. He wanted to continue the path on which he had started. Rêber Apo has this attitude of questioning everything, he discusses a lot both within himself, as well as with those around him.
There are some people who don’t know Rêber Apo, but that are talking about him, saying he would be a person that is indecisive. Rêber Apo himself once said, that it is about being possible to create a success out of situation in which you are without any power. It often happens, that people are very much mistaken in their view of the leadership. It also shows up in those people who are around him. To this Rêber Apo said: “When someone looks at me superficially from a distance and approaches me with a narrow understanding, he is only fooling himself.” Rêber Apo is always doing research and questions, but also shares about this to not leave anything unclear and to take decisions based on this. When he takes a decision, he definitely goes until the end in implementing it. In his steps he is never hesitating or indecisive. When hurdles and difficulties arise in front of him, he is not the one who says: “There are problems, it is getting complicated, I give up on this.” In this respect, to come back to the example, instead of continue trying to return to Greece, he searched for new places. So when Russia became an opportunity, he envisioned going there.
Now, his attitude and stance against February 15, against the conspiracy, and also during the court, are all very important. Everyone was surprised when they saw his attitude when he first appeared in court. When the lawyers visited him for the first time and talked to Rêber Apo, most of them were surprised. They even tried to guide the Leader. A lot of people lost their hopes when they saw Rêber Apo speaking for the first time in front of the court. Many of them taunted him. There where some that said and were also thinking, that struggling and resisting has been given up. Some who went and apologized and took the stance that they have wanted from them. Not just like this, they said the PKK is a terrorist organization. Everyone thought that now, they would attack everybody. But they were surprised when they encountered a person who analyzed the situation according to principles and that gave an answer to them. They were all under the influence based on this. A clear attitude and stance against the conspiracy was not just easily taken.
Because I am talking about the struggle of Imrali. Really nobody was hoping for such a struggle. There were some friends who distanced themselves from us because we did not renounce Rêber Apo and they gave up hope. There were some regretting what has happened and expressing their sorrow for us. They said that so much blood had been shed. There were some who even told us that now was still the chance to drop Rêber Apo, but to continue following him would make us guilty.
After the trial finished, Rêber Apo send a message through his lawyers. He said: “There is no room for emotionality or revulsion here. I have also lived emotionality, but he have to overcome this. We will have to question ourselves completely and question our worst attitudes. Where did we go wrong? What have we done right? Why did come to this result? How can we overcome this situation? We have to search for answers to these questions. That is why no one should approach this process with reactions, emotions and sentiments. I will question myself and if we want to be successful from now on, all our friends have to do the same.” Rêber Apo was really able to overcome his emotionality and described this also later in his prison writings, and named this process of research ‘the organizing of the emotions’. Rêber Apo said to this: “By organizing ones emotions, one is able to make a lot of progress and this brings upon a struggle. But by a narrow way of living emotionally, this takes a lot of ones energy. This reactional approach destroys everything.”
Rêber Apo formed his researching on this basis. Still nobody was hoping, that it would be possible to stop the execution with such a struggle. But Rêber Apo was researching on the question of what needs to be done. He was thinking and asking a lot. He asked his lawyers, but was also expecting proposals from the movement and the people. He found appropriate ways and methods and according to them he evolved his analysis and thoughts. He was deeply evaluating the role that the Turkish state is playing in the conspiracy, as it was Turkey which decided upon the execution. He affected at least the Turkish society and state. All those statist forces saw the execution of Rêber Apo as more dangerous and damaging to themselves than the Imrali rotting policy. These forces analyzed, that the execution of Rêber Apo would deepen the problem and at the end would become a danger to themselves. They told themselves: “If we just leave him in the Imrali system, he will rot there and slowly all of his impact will get lost.” They calculated that it would take some time, but it would not be too damaging for them, was what they thought. They developed such an approach, but it turned out, that they were wrong. They could not fully evaluate the reality of Rêber Apo. Still the rulers of Turkey believed this and where repeating this all the time. They said: “There is nothing like Rêber Apo or PKK. That are all some groups that are guided from outside by forces like the CIA or the Mossad.” The Left wings said: “They are marionettes of the imperialists.” and the Right wings said that they would be controlled by some other forces. Everybody wanted to connect it like this in some way. That is because of their racist, chauvinist and nationalist mentalities. They saw Kurds as inferior and weak and said that Kurds would not be able to act like this. They said, that Kurds could not be able to have such a big thought and such a big movement. That is the basis why they said: “This is not done by the Kurds. It is not Rêber Apo who is doing this, there are some others.” They discussed it like this. They always analyzed the reality of Rêber Apo like this.
Heeding the available data, they thought that they were right. How shall we say this? The contrast, was the difference that Rêber Apo made. The mentality of Rêber Apo, the way he approaches incidents, his methodic, his way of approaching developments, his system of work, discipline, understanding of life, believing in the success, urge for freedom and Kurdish life, the possibility to create. That is what surprised everybody. Everybody has seen him just like oneself, just like a normal, average person. But now he was not just an average person anymore, there was a person beyond that, there was a genius. Of course, this needs to be seen. The reality of somebody who managed to overcome such a superficial and materialist life, just living by the power of meaning surprised everybody.
Rêber Apo tried to create a perception of the democratic civilization through his first prison writings. As a system of thought, he made his first general analysis in the prison writing titled “The Roots of Civilization”. This was actually a definition of democratic civilization according to the statist paradigm. He defined democratic civilization, and brought the democratic solution on the agenda. He considered Europe as the right wing of democratic civilization. In the same text he stated, that the left wing of democratic civilization could be developed in the Middle East based on the Kurds and the democratic solution of the ‘Kurdish question’. On this basis he put forward a program for a democratic solution in the four parts of Kurdistan. With the political formulation of a democratic Middle East, a free Kurdistan, a new program for the solution of the ‘Kurdish question’ emerged.
He analyzed it like this, and saw it as a political solution, but it still was not completely clear. It still did not differ that much from what has been before. Therefore, the issue of overcoming the system of Imrali and whether or not to defeat it was not very clear. Even in that form, though, it frustrated the attempt of Ecevit’s government to solve the ‘Kurdish question’ based on an individualized level, by developing pseudo-democratization In Turkey and successfully implementing the system of Imrali.
Developing a left wing approach to the democratic civilization in the Middle East according to the aim of forming a democratic Middle East and a free Kurdistan, made the Ecevit government’s attempts come to naught. But still it seemed not clear how this paradigm is going to look, what it is going to consist of. It was time of ideological crisis, a depression of thought. While he was so much in the process of analyzing and was working on a program for a political solution; when asked about the party, he said that it is living a ideological crisis. The whole Freedom Movement lived a ideological crisis. That was why the PKK could not exist like this anymore. It has existed with an ideological system until now, and this system has now ended in a crisis. The PKK like this was at the end it this time. The way it had been until then was necessary to be ended and it had to be changed. There were just to ways. Either the struggle would end there, or we would find a solution to this ideological crisis, and the forethinker of the movement went to this level. What did he achieve by his analyzes? He found a solution to the ideological crisis. How did he do this? He did so by changing the paradigm of the struggle. He managed to create a synthesis between the means, the aims and the methods. That is the essence of the paradigm shift. The aim is to form a free society, living an equal, democratic, sharing life, to build up the life. The tools were power and state. But what were power and state? Now what is ‘power’ and ‘state’? They are instruments of oppression, exploitation and cruelty. Living freedom, equality and democracy is impossible through oppression, exploitation and cruelty. This is the main purpose why the real-socialism dissolved.
Until then Rêber Apo was in a phasis of questioning and criticizing in many ways. He came up with a complete critical conclusion, and linked it to this. He thereby gave meaning to the historical experiences of the global liberation movements. Therefore he saw the necessity of forming a unity between the means, the aims and the methods. A ruling and statist mentality can not walk together with socialism. Freedom, equality and democracy can not walk together with a ruling and statist mentality. A new way was necessary. Rêber Apo defined this as ‘democratic leadership’, as ‘autonomous self-governance of the people’. Based on this a paradigm shift, a new mentality, a new theoretical frame, a new ideological-political line, a new tactic and strategy, with the principles of freedom, equality and democracy was formed. Democratic Confederalism takes the place of the state, of the national state. When the democratic nation was formulated, a new system, a new paradigm was formed as a political solution. This brought the reconstruction of the PKK to the agenda. It was not just the name of the PKK that had been changed, but the PKK has been radically changed on the basis of a shifted paradigm. It was newly formed on basis of deep criticism and self-criticism. This created a very strong force, a force of life, a power of meaning, enthusiasm and excitement within Rêber Apo. He said, that he enjoys a lot the creation of new ideas and is getting satisfied by giving meaning to ideas. He said: “Some people are happy and satisfied when they eat nice things, wear nice things or are in nice environments. But for me, thinking about nice things and to reach the point of getting the strength of a deep understanding, makes me enjoy, happy and satisfied.” He evaluated the impact the meaning of something has on human beings and showed how the paradigm shift gives a great moral strength, excitement, and vital strength. This became the strength of resistance and the basis of Rêber Apo’s resistance. We should be conscience that this broke the decision of execution. This frustrated Ecevit’s policy of decay. The paradigm shift frustrated Tayyip Erdoğan’s Islamistic policy. Because the resistance against the international conspiracy frustrated many planned attacks, it gave a lot of moral, strength, hope, trust and faith back and strengthened them. This is a how the resistance developed and got stronger. In order to bring about change in paradigm and to define the new paradigm her criticized, in many respects, all the social scientists, philosophers and thinkers. He stated that these thinkers had not developed a wholesome critical approach to the establishment and had failed to come up with an alternative model. So he developed a mental structure and theoretical framework that enabled him to criticize the establishment and at the same time come up with a new alternative. This inspired the people with moral power, will power and life force.
This is how resistance against these attacks and this pressure evolved on an individual level. We do to understand it in this way. Hadn’t he created such a big power of resistance, he wouldn’t have tolerated that environment. How are you going to resist now? Imagine that you are for 25 years in a surrounding where the enemy is constantly observing you. You are surrounded by them. Every day, every minute when you look around, you see them. You just hear them. They are the ones providing you with you basic materialist needs. Everything around you forms pressure on you, is meant as an attack on you, on your soul, on your emotions, on your ideas, on your life. I spent six months in an isolation cell in Germany. There has also been pressure there. I can not really say, that I understood it. That was also an advantage I had, because for example I was not conscience about how much of an enemy I am confronted with. I did not understand what they told me and when I was stuck, I just said what came to my mind. What they have saying to me could not affect me, as I was not understanding it. I was very angry about there approach. The injustice of the case had an impact on society. It varied from person to person, not everyone behaved in the same way. We were disturbed by their behavior. The injustice of the case had an impact on society. It varied from person to person, not everyone behaved in the same way. Gradually, when it became clear that the case was a hollow case, that it was fabricated, the attitude of the people around us changed. At first they were looking at us with such definitions as “those terrorists” in order to protect the state. But slowly their perspective changed.
But now is Imrali also like this? No, they can not even be compared with each other. It is such a racist, chauvinist, nationalist, Kurdish-hostile environment, there is no environment as Kurdish-hostile as Imrali. This colonialist, genocidal mentality and politics wants to turn Kurdistan into a killing field for Kurds. The place where this is expressed the most minute by minute, is Imrali. How is it possible to resist in such a place for 25 years. It is necessary to analyze this good. It is not a year or five years, it is 25 consecutive years without any break. What did the ones that created Imrali say? What did they say why there was no execution? The ones that created this system said, that execution means dying once, but living in this system means dying every day. They said that they have created a system where one dies every day. Analyzing Imrali and its environment, means to see this point.
There is a system of torture. After the military and fascist coup of September 12, 1980 there was torture in the prison of Amed [Turkish name Diyarbakir].There where many ways of psychological torture, but mostly it was physical torture. Against great physical torture a great physical resistance was lived. Now there is the deepest, most systematic torture according to the methods of psychological torture and special warfare on Imrali. How can somebody at such a place resist against this torture? It is not possible to uphold such a resistance just with a narrow materialist or individualist stance. Only by understanding these things, by analyzing them in yourself, by defeating them in your own mind, in your feelings, thoughts and behaviors, can you endure and overcome them. Since Rêber Apo defeated the whole system with his paradigm shift, since he judged and condemned the system that wanted to judge him, he also condemned those around him. He developed behavior to sustain himself in the face of their every behavior. He was able to interpret every word, every attitude of the enemy and developed meanings to sustain himself. He remained standing with the power of meaning. Otherwise the gates would have been opened for an individualist struggle. But there is nothing like this.
They are lying and giving punishments to Rêber Apo by saying he would be indiscipline. There is a absolutely nothing like that on Imrali. Something like does not exist in the person of Rêber Apo. The 25 years have passed, according to law he must be set free now. The ECHR said that there is the ‘law of hope’. There needs to be a trial, because according to European law, Rêber Apo should become physically free. They can not keep him in Imrali anymore. Just four months are left. Now they are inventing all these things, they are trying to give new sentences and create a justification for keeping him in prison. There is no other explanation for this. It has nothing to do with reality, it has no credibility. Somebody can not be force to remain in Imrali because of fake disciplinary punishments. Impossible to spend more then 25 years on Imrali. How did this happen? It becomes possible by living a meaningful life, with the evolving of thought, with the power to give the right and sufficient answers to everything. There are friends who went to Imrali and returned. Some of their things are reflected in the press. We read about their observations, their memories. They make very interesting evaluations. They say that Rêber Apo lives in Imrali in the same way as he lived in the Mahsum Korkmaz Academy [former academy of the PKK in the Bekaa Valley]. In such a place he formed such an environment.
For example comrade Mehmet Saît. He is a comrade that has seen education in the Mahsum Korkmaz Academy. He said that Rêber Apo had turned Imrali into the Mahsum Korkmaz Academy. Can a place like Imrali, which is the headquarters of a colonialist, genocidal mentality and politics, be turned into the Mahsum Korkmaz Academy? Can such a thing happen? The terms of Rêber Apo’s way of living, working and organizing is like this. Whatever they may do, how many difficulties they may make, Rêber Apo will still do this. Even they give just a limited number of papers and pens to him, sometimes not even giving this.
They do everything to arouse anger and reaction from his part. It is now 25 years that this situation is like this. These were affecting Imrali. There was a coup in Turkey. It is not clear what happened. It affected Imrali the most. How was Rêber Apo able to overcome these? With the power of meaning and the power of evaluation. It is because he is a different person from the people who stand in front of him, because he created an alternative to them. It is because he is a power of understanding and solving. Like this he was able to overcome them. If he would have not overcome this, if he would have been weaker then his opponents, he would have not been able to resist.
They called it isolation. The system made a mistake in this point. They isolated him and thought that all his effect on the outside world will perish once he gets put in a place solely. That is probably the biggest mistake that they have ever done. Rêber Apo expressed it many times, he always expressed loneliness. Rêber Apo has had a lot of human relations, but the he was not a person who randomly interacted with people 24 hours a day and had idle conversations. If he wants to solve certain problems with people, he discusses with them, educates them, and establishes such deeper relationships. He was busy with educating himself and his work. It was not a problem if he stayed in one place like that. They thought that if they would keep him alone, they would squeeze him, that he would turn crazy. But Rêber Apo was used to it. He has lived like this before. Thus, they said he would forget how to interact with people, or even how to talk. That is what they are trying to do. But he continued reading, analyzing and thinking. Rêber Apo does not create new thoughts and ideas by reading books, he does so by reading life itself. His life and the way of is struggle is like this.
There is an emotional dimension, and there is a psychological dimension. How does he overcome the emotional and psychological dimension? Through the production of thought and with the power of meaning. On the other hand, also by keeping his connection with the people and the movement alive on basis of meaningful relationship. They could never break this connection. They have put Rêber Apo in the torture system of Imrali for 25 years, but they never managed to cut his connections to the outside world. They could not separate Rêber Apo from the people, the movement and humanity. They tried not to give him any opportunity. They developed measures so that he would have the least information, but still with the least possibility of getting informations, he developed the power to make the most comprehensive evaluations. He never said something like: “There is not enough information, therefore I cannot understand, I cannot think, I cannot know what is going on.” He knew better than anyone else with the most information.
Now everyone is saying that the isolation in Imrali should be lifted, that Rêber Apo should speak and have his say so that we can find solutions to the problems we face. Kurds, women, the youth, Turkey’s socialists, revolutionaries, the world’s intellectuals, politicians and artists are saying this. Everyone who read/reads the books of the leadership, who reads the prison writings, who learns about the reality of the leadership, wants to hear and know the new evaluations, new views of Rêber Apo in order to gain more meaningful power. For this, they are developing a struggle that embraces the Rêber Apo .It is the global struggle for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo against the Imrali system and the influence of Rêber Apo’s thoughts that are creating an impact. Everyone who is acquainted with these thoughts sees their own interests represented there, sees their own goodness and beauties represented there, and in order to hear more of this, they want Rêber Apo to speak more, they want him to write more, they support and embrace Rêber Apo more. It has such a dimension. His system of thought has this level of influence. What does this mean? It expresses Rêber Apo’s bond with humanity, his bond with peoples, his bond with women, his bond with the Kurds. He said: “If I had not been able to combine the concrete situation and reality of the Kurdish people with my own personality, and the situation of the Kurdish people with my own personality, I would not have been able to produce all these thoughts and practices. I could not have achieved all these developments.” This expresses the level of feeling his struggle and uniting with it. It shows how much he has become one with the people, the nation, and integrated the existence of free life in his personality. Thereby, he overcomes the narrow platform of sentimentality. He sees the problem, understands them, solves them and shows solution on how to get out of the pressure and oppression.
But there are physical difficulties. Rêber Apo said that his physique is strong. To survive for 25 years against the Imrali torture and isolation system, against such a system of oppression, shows a great physical strength. But this is an island. The sea air is very humid. Rêber Apo had fungus and sores on his feet, he was treating them. Later he had surgery for sinusitis because this humid air is damaging. Dry air would be good for his health. An island in the middle of the sea represents the most unfavorable weather in this respect. It is the most humid air. He also has to resist against this. This may be the most physically difficult. That weather, that environment is not physically suitable. We don’t know if they chose this consciously. There are many different reasons. There is the history of Imrali. That was also mentioned. Imrali has already been used against dissidents before.
Counter-guerrilla centers and Super Gladio use seas and islands to imprison revolutionary leaders and influential dissidents. It has been used against them. That the location of Imrali was chosen to place Rêber Apo under such a system, was taken perhaps because of his health. They may have especially preferred that place because they knew that. But even so, Rêber Apo resisted with his moral strength. He was able to overcome even the most unfavorable environment and weather. He physically resists based on this. There obviously also is the biological and physical level of resistance, as one can not say that it is just about a mental way, but we need to know the effect of mentality, the power of thought, the ability to live life meaningfully, to give meaning, on physical strength. There is a great deal of this, and Rêber Apo is in a position to combine them and use them in a very powerful unified way.
In conclusion Rêber Apo stated: “Without the Imrali system we might not have been able to realize the birth of the third leadership.” [Abullah Öcalan defines the beginning of new stages in his life as ‘new births’. Coming to Imrali and changing the paradigm of the movement was his third rebirth, becoming the ‘third leadership’.] It has happened in such a way that it is as if the Imrali system has benefited us this much. Pressure and difficulty are the midwives of new births. Imrali played the role of a midwife. The difficult environment there became the place of the third leadership. But this does not mean that in every difficult environment a new birth will necessarily occur. On the contrary, that difficulty can either end the existing one or bring destruction. The new birth depends on the new essence there, on the new seed, on its germination. In Rêber Apo, there is such a reality of constant self-renewal. His power to resist also depends on his ability of constantly renewing himself. He called it: “Make every day to the beginning of something new.” He has overcome a rigid, dogmatic repetitive mentality and style. A true artist is one who constantly invents new things, who can make new beginnings every day, who has a creative style. With this creativity and this capability of creating new things he can resist against everything negative and every outside pressure. It is his attachment to the organization and the people, where he takes his faith, his strength from. The comrades said: “We are attached to Rêber Apo.” And he answered: “This is debatable. Are you attached to me, or am I attached to you?” That is a topic that needs to be well understood. He added: “Your attachment is very ordinary. You should see my attachment, understand how deep it is.” This attachment, this belief in power is very strong.
Those who thought that they could liquidate the PKK by cutting the effect of Rêber Apo through the Imrali isolation for 25 years were wrong. For 25 years, Rêber Apo has successfully carried out his duties as leadership. Not only the leadership of the PKK, not only the Kurdish leadership, but the leadership of all the oppressed, especially women and youth. Because he produced solutions to the problems posed by the entire power and state system. He showed the way to solutions, he showed the way to salvation. Those who wanted to destroy Rêber Apo within the torture system of Imrali, within the pressure of isolation, encountered such a situation. From the system created with such a desire, Rêber Apo realized an unprecedented new birth. He brought about great developments at this level. How did this happen? It happened with the passion and love of life. He could have said: “I have done as much as I can do, I have worked as much as I can work, and now I am here. There is all kinds of pressure. What more is required of me, let others do it.” He could have said: “Let those who have the means do it, let those do it.” But he did not say that, and he did not act like this. On the contrary, he saw himself more responsible than anyone else. Even though he was in the most difficult environment, in the most impossible environment, he did not say that these things. He used his strength for humanity, for the oppressed, for freedom. In this regard, he never acted selfish, individualistic or idle. On the contrary, he did not stop for day and night, he worked hard with the most meager means and appropriated his power of thought, his power of knowledge for humanity. He shared it with the oppressed and showed the way to salvation.
This is how much he served humanity still under the torture and isolation system of Imrali. Now, to understand this resistance of Rêber Apo, to embrace Rêber Apo, to oppose the torture and isolation system of Imrali, to fight for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo is not much that is requested. Rêber Apo has given us all more. This is paying a debt. To what extent what we have done paying our debt is very debatable, it is very weak. Even under those conditions, it was Rêber Apo who served us, who served all of humanity. So, of course, we need to repay this service. We need to know how to repay out debts. We need to understand the reality of Imrali well. Therefore, we need to see the meaning and importance of the resistance in the Imrali system. We need to realize the meaning of the emerge of this third leadership and the service that Rêber Apo rendered to humanity despite those conditions. Only then understanding this resistance correctly and fulfilling the duties and responsibilities it places upon us get possible. There is a real passion about this. The Kurdish people, women and youth know Rêber Apo well and embrace him. They see and feel the meaning of Rêber Apo. Some circles in Turkey are also in such a development. There are also intellectuals, politicians and artists in the Middle East and the world who begin to understand this reality. This is spreading more and more. This is something very important.
But some circles are also still very influenced by racist chauvinist propaganda, colonialist genocidal mentality and politics. There are many such people in Turkey. There are also many in the Kurdish ruling classes. We know Kurds who are sworn enemies of the leadership, enemies of Rêber Apo and PKK. They have been struggling against the leadership for fifty years. For 25 years he has been in Imrali, giving everything to keep Kurdishness alive, but they are still attacking him. This goes beyond moral values. In Turkey, the influence of that racist, chauvinist, genocidal mentality and politics is very strong in the society. It is in their souls, in their emotions, in their thoughts, in their behavior, in everything. This is constantly being imposed. They are keeping the Imrali system of torture, isolation and genocide alive and do not want society to oppose it. They try to achieve this through racist, chauvinist propaganda and brainwashing. Because if the society in Turkey realizes that the resistance in Imrali is not just for Kurdish freedom, but also for Turkey’s democracy they would join in. The measure of being a democrat in Turkey is the level of opposing the system of Imrali. This is the case legally, ideologically and politically. From a legal point of view, also lawyers say this. Merdan Yanardağ said it. “If the people would see someone like him, they would immediately rise up.” Therefore, this fascist, colonialist, genocidal dictatorship, mentality and politics that tries to keep the Imrali system alive and feeds on the ‘Kurdish question’ could disappear in one day. To prevent this, they denigrate Rêber Apo every day. They ban everything related to the leadership. Recently they have been developing what is called isolation in this direction. They do this so that the truth is not seen, the leadership is not understood correctly, the role and meaning of the Imrali resistance in terms of democratization of Turkey is not seen. Therefore, they are making an intense effort to prevent Turkish society, youth, women, left revolutionary socialists, intellectuals from opposing this mentality and politics. They are oppressing and brainwashing in their educational system. That whole education system is brainwashing. One wonders why patriots and leftists send their children there. The cultural attack is at the highest level. There is a complete genocide of a society. The genocide of a mentality, the destruction of conscience. They are in such a state of social destruction. They are doing this through abusing art and literature. They abuse the media, the press and broadcasting at the highest level. In the worst way.
They are doing this in order to make the society in Turkey unable to understand the reality of the resistance of the leadership and Imrali and therefore unable to embrace it. It is very consciously planned. Everyone needs to see this and we see development in this direction. We are hoping on this. The 26th year of struggle against the international conspiracy will be the greatest year of struggle to completely destroy the torture and isolation system of Imrali and to ensure Kurdish freedom and democratization of Turkey on the basis of the physical freedom of Rêber Apo. I wish great success to the struggles carried out on this basis.
I call on everyone to fulfill their duties and responsibilities and to participate in this struggle with all their strength.