Our Interviews

february 23, 2023

Parts of an interview with Duran Kalkan, member of the KCK Executive Council, about the latest developments in Kurdistan, the Middle East and the world, including the 25th year of the illegal imprisonment of Abdullah Öcalan on the Turkish prison island Imrali, the social and political consequences of the earthquakes in North Kurdistan/South-East Turkey and the recent decision to stop all attacks of the Kurdistan Freedom Guerrilla:

25th Year of Illegal Imprisonment of Abdullah Öcalan on Turkish Prison Island Imrali

“First of all, I would like to respectfully greet the historic Imrali resistance and Leader Apo [Abdullah Öcalan]. We have left behind another February 15th [anniversary of illegal abduction of Abdullah Öcalan on February 15, 1999]. Leader Apo has called this day the ‘Kurdish Genocide Day’ and our people refer to it as a ‘black day’. Recently, strong protests against the conspiracy took place in many places around the world. The Kurdish people and their international friends have thus taken a clear stance. All the cities of North and East Syria, many different places in Europe, the four parts of Kurdistan and abroad were full of protests against the conspiracy and for the physical freedom of Leader Apo. The people have thus made it clear that they do not want to live with the conspiracy and its current form, i.e. the Imrali system of torture and isolation. On behalf of our party leadership, I would like to thank everyone who recently took to the streets and filled the squares for the physical freedom of Leader Apo and against the international conspiracy. An important stance has thus been put forward. This shows that a struggle worthy of the 25th year [of the International Conspiracy] will be waged in the future. The protests on February 15 show how the struggle in the 25th year will be. 24 hours a day, all four parts of Kurdistan and abroad will be active. There will be constant protests against the Imrali system of torture and genocide and for the physical freedom of Leader Apo.”

“The aim of the conspiracy was to kill Leader Apo and, based on this, to destroy the PKK and to bring the Kurdish genocide to a conclusion. They have been trying for 25 years to realize this goal, but they have failed. For 25 years their plans have come to nothing. But they are still continuing with their plan. Today´s Imrali torture and genocide system and the aggravated isolation clearly show this. Against this, as a movement and as a people, we have been carrying out a historic resistance. The previous seemingly fateful situation of the Kurds has been overcome on the basis of the resistance of Leader Apo, our movement and our people. This is a very important development. In the 25th year, we want this to come to a conclusion. We will increase both the legal and political struggle on this basis and spread it everywhere. It has already been 23 months that we have not received any news from Imrali. The people are really angry about this. The Asrin Law Office made a statement recently and published its 2022 Imrali Report. How can this report be summarized? There has been absolutely no communication [with Abdullah Öcalan] throughout the new year. We have absolutely no information. Health and safety issues are on the agenda. The institutions responsible for this have not made any statement. The CPT said that they had gone there [to Imrali]. There was no statement last year either. The pressure [on Abdullah Öcalan] is at an extreme level. They want to keep the Imrali system going. But this will change in the 25th year. Our determination is based on this and we will wage a struggle accordingly. In this 25th year, we say ´enough is enough´. The walls of Imrali must be torn down and the physical freedom of Leader Apo must be ensured. We hope that everyone will approach this matter accordingly. Legal circles, political forces, those who were in favor of the conspiracy, those who supported the conspiracy and those who stood against it will re-evaluate the situation. The forces responsible for the conspiracy need to evaluate the last quarter of a century. They have been involved in carrying out a genocide against a people. Everyone can see this. What do they want from the Kurdish people, from its will for freedom, from Leader Apo? We hope that they will now show the ability to act with a little conscience and review their situation in order to correct their historical mistakes.”

Social and Political Consequences of Earthquake in North Kurdistan/South-East Turkey

“This is a real catastrophe for society. Whatever the reason, this has very heavy consequences. On the first day, our movement made a statement. It not only shared the pain of our people but also called for an attitude towards this tragedy and suggested how to fight against it. A mobilization on this basis has since taken place. On this basis, I would like to wish mercy to those who lost their lives and healing to the wounded. I share the pain of our peoples in Kurdistan, Turkey and Syria. I wish resilience to our people who have suffered from the earthquake. I would like to express that solidarity and sharing will keep us alive. Although we do not have detailed information, as far as we are able to follow the press, the consequences are really heavy. We also know the region. We are also children of those lands. We were born and raised there. We know large parts of it directly. The severe winter conditions have made the situation even worse. In the middle of the winter, such a tragedy happened. And the affected area is huge. About 20 million people live there.”

“A certain degree of solidarity has since been shown in our society. I would like to thank everyone who has shown solidarity. Solidarity has also come from abroad. But the Turkish state was always taken as the basis [for the solidarity efforts]. Yet, the Kurdish policy of this state is known. The AKP-MHP’s approach to the Kurds is also known. Some circles could have tried to directly help the local community. As a matter of fact, there have been people who have openly said that there is discrimination against Kurds, Alevis and revolutionary democratic leftist circles. The AKP-MHP administration has used this earthquake to implement a total fascist attack, extermination and a terror administration. This is based on an attitude that tries to prevent social solidarity. Therefore, many circles could have taken this into consideration. I would like to once again express my deepest condolences to all our people. We will indeed turn this pain into consciousness, organization, solidarity and on this basis into a democratic struggle and liberation.”

“Scientists are now discussing a lot about the causes. Of course, as a force waging a political struggle, we also have a number of things to say about the issues that concern political questions. This area is an earthquake zone. It is located on a fault line. Although everybody knew about the fault line, so much destruction has taken place because none of these buildings had a license. They turned a blind eye to everything for the sake of profit. TV channels now show Tayyip Erdoğan’s speeches from the past where he talks about how they solved the problems of Hatay, Malatya or Adıyaman. Now the earthquake has shown that all this was a lie. Nothing had been solved there. In other words, a lot of profit was made there. The earthquake is a natural disaster. Nature has its own laws. But not taking any earthquake precautions and not living accordingly has led to this disaster, to so many dead and injured people. Yes, we cannot prevent earthquakes. But the earthquake could have been expected and measures could have been taken to minimize the number of casualties. A life suitable to earthquakes could have been built. Now we can prevent and change all this.”

“This profit-seeking system, this exploitative system, this system that is desperate and destroys nature, does not minimize the damage that such an earthquake can cause, but maximizes it. We have seen this in the wake of the latest earthquake. What happened on the line stretching from Adıyaman to Maraş, Malatya, Diyarbakır, Antep, Hatay, Osmaniye and Adana has shown this clearly. Is there any settlement suitable for such an earthquake zone in the area? So it is not the earthquake that is to blame, but those who did not build their lives according to the earthquake. Of course, there is also a system that organizes life in this way. The system of state and power. And societies give way to state and power. They shouldn’t. They should hold them responsible. The state is a force of profit, a force of exploitation. It thinks of nothing else. Now some are asking where the state is? In the aftermath of the earthquake, the capital factions are rubbing their hands, talking about how much they will build. Because they think that new possibilities of profit have emerged for them. Instead of saying where is the state, we should ask where is our control over our own lives? What is the Turkish power and state system like? What is its approach towards the Kurds? What is the life like that is being built? Now, while we are trying to overcome the painful and heavy consequences of the earthquake, we must also take these realities into account, correct them and build the future correctly. Will we be able to overcome these consequences not by complaining, crying and whining, but by really thinking and pondering on the causes and consequences, that is, by analyzing the consequences well and finding the causes of them. Will we be able to eliminate the causes and make sure that something like this will not occur again? This is the important issue.”

“It seems that they will increase the violence and oppression even more. In other words, they will make huge profits by building many new buildings. They will create many areas of exploitation. For this to happen, they will continue the political pressure, military pressure and terror. They have declared a state of emergency for three months and brought up postponing the elections based on this. They cheat, use repression and the state of emergency to then claim that they have won the elections. Can there be an election in this environment, under the state of emergency? It is very clear that there won´t be any elections. We have always said that the AKP has not yet decided on the elections. Now it is trying to use the earthquake as an excuse to prevent them. They might very well increase the pressure, terror and impose war as a part of this policy. Tayyip Erdoğan, with the guidance of Devlet Bahçeli, will thus aggravate his own guilt. He will try to turn the earthquake into a blessing for himself and extend his stay in power. This must not be allowed to happen. The results of the earthquake have revealed the reality of AKP-MHP fascism. No one can make anyone believe otherwise. Neither in Turkey itself nor abroad. Some put on a smiling face in order to gain profit, to get a share from the exploitation, but nobody should assume that they like Tayyip Erdoğan very much and that they will always support him. The AKP’s profit-seeking policies and settlement policies are responsible for this outcome. For 20 years it has built these kinds of buildings and the latest developments are a result of this. The AKP-MHP government is responsible and will be held accountable. In that sense, no matter what it does, it cannot save itself. The earthquake will destroy this government even more severely. If it is wise and reduces the violence, maybe it will find a place for itself. If not, it may lead to a situation that will have much more severe consequences for them. Let us state this as a warning.”

“The situation of the other political forces is important. Of course they should be more active in this context. They are partly, but they should be even more active. They are a government themselves, they have come together with every party. Alliances have been formed. These alliances should play a role. They have the power to govern. They should be able to develop better work to reduce the effects of the earthquake. But this has not been seen so far. It is very weak. The Alliance for Labor and Freedom has made certain efforts. They have realized the seriousness of the situation. This is good. But their efforts are being obstructed. Neither the opposition, nor the Alliance for Labor and Freedom or various associations, institutions, charity organizations should adhere to the obstruction of AKP-MHP fascism. The attitude of associations, civil society organizations, parties and the various social groups is important, the attitude of society as a whole is important. In the face of such a situation, always expecting something from the state, always complaining and demanding, will not allow them to achieve anything. On the contrary, all these institutions, associations, non-governmental organizations, trade unions and parties should approach society without any obstacles. They should share the pain of society and heal its wounds. There must be a complete mobilization, a process of solidarity. The organization of society must increase.”

“The great importance of social solidarity and sharing has once more become clear. It has become clear how important it is to be a democratic society, to be a democratic nation, to develop a system of Democratic Confederalism instead of a state. In this sense, let us draw rich lessons from these developments. Let us educate ourselves. It is clear that there is a lack of education. We are also responsible for this. Everyone is responsible. Society must have the right consciousness. Those who have accumulated so much in the cities can go to the villages. To the villages, not to the places where the AKP-MHP wants people to go. The people living in their village communities should definitely not leave their homes. Some families have said that they will not leave their land. This is very true, they should not. They can build a life in which disasters like earthquakes will not kill them. They can build community life in a better way based on solidarity. In other words, all those polished things of capitalism are not life. We should not seek these kinds of things. Our society must be resilient. We therefore call on all revolutionary democratic forces and democratic political circles to take the lead in this matter, to raise awareness in society, and to make a strong effort to heal the wounds of society without adhering to any of the obstacles or bans put in place by the AKP-MHP. Once again, I would like to express that we share the pain of our people. But I think that if we approach the issue at hand in this way, we will overcome the pain faster.”

Recent Decision to Stop All Attacks of Kurdistan Freedom Guerrilla

“The center of the earthquake and the areas hit by it are the areas where the PKK was founded. It is a geography that the PKK knows very well. In other words, 70 percent of the people exposed to the earthquake are Kurds. They are the most patriotic segments of Kurdish society. We therefore feel a lot of pain. In light of all this, our movement decided that it was not right to continue the war in an environment where so much pain was experienced and instead took the decision to create a common opportunity, a possibility. As a consequence, our movement recently made a call on everyone. This was a humanitarian decision, a conscientious decision, a decision required by the democratic politics we pursue. Of course, this call has several targets and interlocutors. How well it was received and embraced is important. One interlocutor was the government [of Turkey]. We are at war with the current government and state system. Did the earthquake touch the conscience of AKP-MHP fascism like it touched ours? It did not. Yes, we have taken a unilateral decision not to carry out any attacks. Our forces will not carry out offensive actions unless there is an attack on them. But they continue to be attacked. The attacks have never stopped. You can follow this daily in the press. The HPG-BIM [press center of the People´s Defense Forces] publishes this daily. Therefore, we can see the following: The AKP-MHP government has not given the necessary response [to the call]. It has not stopped its attacks completely. Maybe it is doing less. This could also be because of the winter conditions, but the important thing is that it continues its attacks. Everyone needs to acknowledge this and follow these developments carefully. This is the attitude of the current AKP-MHP government. It has not given the necessary response.”

“Of course, we did not make this call only for the government. Our addressee is the society. Has there been enough response from all political circles, democratic political forces and other political forces in Turkey and the world? There were many reports in the international media. There were some positive evaluations, but was there anything that turned into politics? Have political circles shown the same sensitivity as the press? We cannot say that yet. They should be able to show this sensitivity. They should be more involved in the Kurdish problem. Other political circles, opposition circles were not very sensitive. Only the HDP and the Labor and Freedom Alliance reacted to a certain extent. But the CHP and other parties in the National Alliance could have also taken a stance. Instead of mobilizing the army to save citizens after the earthquake, the government mobilizes it for the war. It keeps the soldiers on the battlefield. Tthey could have criticized this. But this was weak. The Labor and Freedom Alliance and the HDP voiced these issues a little bit. This was not emphasized very strongly. However, this should have been emphasized. The government is the addressee, but not only the government, all political circles, social circles, trade unions, associations, women’s and youth organizations, non-governmental organizations and parties are the addressees of our political decision. Everyone should be able to take a stand. They should take a stance and put pressure on the AKP-MHP government, which has ignored this decision.”

“AKP-MHP fascism benefits from this to continue its attacks and broaden its monopoly. In this respect, we have so far not been able to see an effective stance of certain circles. We will continue our approach on the basis of our own understanding. As I mentioned, this decision was taken because of the effects of the earthquake. No one should misunderstand this or develop any different approaches. If they want to make better use of this, then all political circles need to reveal their attitude. Both from within Turkey and from abroad in terms of everyone who is interested in Turkish politics. If they don’t, we are not the ones to blame. For now, we cannot say where this will lead. This is not a situation that only depends on us. In a sense, we have done what we could. All democratic circles, revolutionaries and popular forces have expressed their appreciation for this. The rest is up to the interlocutors. Their attitude will determine things. We will look at their attitude.”