Our Interviews

september 21, 2023

The isolation of Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan continues. The campaign called ‘Time to end isolation, fascism and occupation, time to ensure freedom’ with the aim to break the isolation and ensure Abdullah Öcalan’s physical freedom, has completed its 3rd year. What would you like to say about the progress of this campaign?

Before evaluating the issue, I would like to express my condolences to the people of Morocco and Libya for the thousands of people who lost their lives due to the earthquake in Morocco and the floods in Libya.

I would also like to respectfully remember and gratitude Beytocan who has made big efforts in the survival of the Kurdish people’s culture and in the struggle against colonialism. He will not be forgotten by the people of Kurdistan. His place in Kurdish culture and art will always be remembered. People in the field of culture and art are really valuable for Kurds. In this respect, the Kurdish people should value their artists, support them and provide opportunities for the development of art. For a people and a nation that has been subjected to genocide, culture and art are the most important activities. In this respect, cultural and artistic work expresses a great struggle against genocide.

Our people are struggling against the captivity and isolation of Rêber Apo [Abdullah Öcalan], and are trying to ensure his physical freedom. It is necessary to see that the Turkish state follows a genocidal and colonialist policy. In this respect, also the policies against Rêber Apo are genocide policies. I want to emphasize, that it would be a mistake to compare our struggle against this state or the state’s policy against the Kurdish people to the national liberation struggle anywhere else in the world.

Our people are waging a struggle for freedom against this state. Ensuring the physical freedom of Rêber Apo is the most important part of this intertwined struggle. The Kurdish people and their internationalist friends seem to grasp this reality better every day. While struggling for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo, there is also a development of consciousness. The struggle for freedom on the right basis is developing more and more every day. Not only the Kurdish people, but also the peoples of the world, the democratic forces, socialists and revolutionaries realize what the physical freedom of Rêber Apo means for humanity. They are also making great efforts and labor, which we are seeing as very valuable.

Recently there were several concerts in Italy, in which we saw how Rêber Apo has affected the peoples. Because all humanity wants to get rid of capitalist modernity and Rêber Apo shows a possible way for this. First and foremost, he shows the way to get rid of the capitalist system on the basis of women’s freedom. This, of course, opens a new era in the struggle against capitalist modernity led by women, youth and ecologists, and reveals new horizons. It will develop further, as no one can isolate the thoughts and ideas of Rêber Apo. They are trying to minimize his impact on the Kurdish people and humanity through imprisonment, but this is futile. Rêber Apo’s thoughts have already spread all over the world.

In this respect, Rêber Apo’s struggle for freedom is getting stronger. As a matter of fact, in a recent big meeting of world trade unions, they called for the freedom of Rêber Apo. They said they would make efforts to ensure the physical freedom of him. These are very valuable statements, that we pay our respects for. Everyone now realizes that the Kurdish people are a great value for humanity. It will become difficult to keep Rêber Apo in captivity and isolation for a long time. The democratic forces, the peoples of the world and the Kurdish people together will definitely ensure the freedom of Rêber Apo.

Another historic action against the system of torture imposed on the prison island of Imrali took place in Mersin last year. How should the action organized by Sara Tolhildan (Dilara Ürper) and Rûken Zelal (Emel Feremez Hisên) be understood?

At first I would like to commemorate the comrades Sara and Rûken with gratitude. Actions like theirs have a great meaning. There were police officers killed in the action, but it is insufficient to see the action only in this aspect. There, in the person of Sara and Rûken, Kurdish women showed what the reality of Kurdish society is, what kind of a struggle they are taking part in against genocidal colonialism, how insistent they are on freedom, and how they will sacrifice everything for the sake of a free life. This is the stance of the Kurdish people and the guerrilla personified in Rûken and Sara. Of course, their stance is not an individual one, it is part of the guerrilla fighting in [the south Kurdish regions] Zap, Metîna and Avaşîn today. The same spirit of sacrifice is fighting against colonialism in the Medya Defende Zones [areas controlled by the guerrilla forces].

In the Medya Defense Zones, we also see how the self-sacrificing fighters fearlessly go against the enemy, but the action of comrade Sara and Rûken was different, as it was in an area completely dominated by the enemy. It has great value that they did this action without fear and sacrificed their lives. This is very meaningful and valuable. All Kurdish women and youth should look at this militant stance, this militant spirit. Everyone should reflect on themselves by fighting against the colonialist state. Also how the colonialists can be defeated should be seen in the person of these martyred friends.

The fascist Turkish state continues its invasion attacks centered around Zap, Metîna and Avaşîn. The guerrillas managed to deal some heavy blows against the enemy. However, it seems that the ‘Kurdistan Democratic Party’ (KDP) will come to the rescue of the Turkish army. They have therefore increased their military reinforcement to the south Kurdish area of Bradost and the KDP is again carrying out attacks on guerrilla positions. What would you like to say about these developments?

Firstly, the resistance in Zap, Metîna and Avaşîn is a resistance against the genocidal colonizer. It has to be be seen as part of the general struggle of the Kurdish people, who shows a great sacrificial stance against the genocidal power. This stance will continue by becoming even more effective. In this respect, it is not possible for the colonial enemy to gain any results. On the contrary, the sacrifice of resistance and militancy, increases the resistance power of the Kurdish people. We have evaluated the stance of the KDP many times now. As a Kurdish party, their actions have to be considered as betrayal. It is not possible to soften this, or to even find a justification for it. The attitude towards this has to be clear and unambiguous. There is not enough being done against the attitude of KDP. This shows a weakness of the Kurdish people.

The Kurdish people will have to take a stance against betrayal to gain freedom. Without a clear stance against betrayal, without a clear stance of the Kurdish people, the struggle for freedom cannot be successful. Like I said, not taking an adequate stance against the KDP is a weakness of the Kurdish people. You can still find approaches that look like they try to normalize the KDP’s attitude. But without effect, as the broad majority of the Kurdish people see this betrayal. The ones that remain silent do so, because they themselves benefit from the KDP’s attitude. The problem is not a question of protecting the positions gained. As a result of so many years of struggle, the Kurdish people managed to create and protect their identity and existence in the world, in the Middle East. The KDP will not be able to crush and destroy this.

It is the decades of struggle that brought about the Kurdish gains. Without our struggle, the reality of South Kurdistan would not have emerged. I am not saying that our people in South Kurdistan never struggled, of course they did, but that struggle led to such gains and positions as a result of the environment created by our struggle. This reality needs to be seen. Then the reality of the ‘Kurdistan Worker’s Party’ (PKK) and Rêber Apo needs to be understood and protected correctly. The gains and achievements of the Kurdish people can be preserved by protecting them.

In [the north Kurdish city of] Silopî, the Kurdish people took a clear stand against the KDP’s betrayal, the Turkish state attacks and is preventing them. Within the Turkish state it is known that they cannot succeed in Kurdistan without the collaboration and the betrayal of the KDP. This is also the reason why the Turkish state still survives in Northern Kurdistan. It is because of the KDP. It is the KDP that has supported the Turkish state so much to enable their attacks. The Turkish state officials tend to say; ‘We’re not against the Kurds, look, we have relations with the KDP.’ This is how it deceives the Kurdish society and the world. If it would liquidate the PKK, the KDP and other organizations would also not exist any longer. In this respect, what the KDP has done is obvious, and the right attitude must be taken against it. Otherwise would we really end up in the situation of the Laz who upon being executed had said: ‘This should be a lesson for me”. When Rêber Apo was evaluating the reality of the Kurds in the early days, he said that Kurds do not know how they die even when they are dying. Now we know how Kurds lose and how they will win. The reality of the KDP is as if they still want to make the Kurd suffer from this situation.

43 years have passed since the fascist military coup of September 12, 1980. What are the effects of the coup in Turkey and Kurdistan until today?

The effects of the military coup were very big. A very strong democratic accumulation, a left-socialist accumulation has had emerged in Turkey. When we look at it today, socialists and democrats in the Black Sea region have been rendered unable to work, whereas it was an important area of revolutionary struggle. The youth of the Black Sea region was very effective in their revolutionary struggle. We also had comrades from this region in our group, Haki [Karer] and Kemal [Pir]. Then September 12 came. They wanted to create a new Turkey by crushing the left and the democratic forces, crushing the Kurdish people and they wanted to get rid of the ‘Kurdish question’ by executing a genocide on the Kurds. One of the methods they used for this, was to develop so called ‘political Islam’. In the early periods, the Republic of Turkey followed a policy that kept the Islamists out of the system and went after them. But from September 12 onwards they saw, that the Kurdish people could not be suppressed and that the left could not be neutralized with the existing policies. For this, they saw it as necessary to bring political Islam as a new-old method into the system.

At the moment, the ‘Justice and Development Party’ (AKP) is a product of September 12. The coup paved the way for Fethullah Gülen and his followers, as well as for the political Islamists. They wanted to integrate them into the system and unite with them to execute the genocide of the Kurdish people and crush the leftists as well as socialists. Because until then the Islamic section was not a partner in the genocidal policy of the Turkish state. There were some who supported it, but in general, those with Islamic values stayed away from the genocidal policy of the Turkish state. September 12 coup made both the Islamists section and the Muslim people acomplices in this genocidal policy. This is perhaps the greatest evil done to the Muslim people and to the Islamic section in Turkey. It was September 12 that created this. They also pressured the socialists to stay away from the Kurds.

That’s why before September 12, the most fundamental agenda of the leftists, of all revolutionaries, was the Kurdish question. They didn’t call it an independent Kurdistan, they didn’t consider it appropriate, but they all had in their programs the Kurdish people’s right to self-determination. They said federation, autonomy. If you have a look at it now; some people who call themselves left-socialists are distancing themselves from the Kurdish question, saying that the state shouldn’t mess with them. This was also a result of September 12. Therefore, the coup did a great disservice to the peoples of Turkey; it liquidated the democratic accumulation, narrowed and limited the power of thought, created enemies of art, and enemies of intellectuals. Turkey was going through a kind of ‘renaissance’ before September 12. There had been problems for sure, but it was a period of enlightenment. But then as September 12 came, Turkey was dried up. Now Turkey has become the center of Middle Eastern reactionism. That is why it is attacking the Kurdish Freedom Movement, which plays a central role in the democratization of the Middle East.

When talking about the military coup of September 12, the prison of Amed [Turkish name Diyarbakir] comes to ones mind. Today, the responsibles of the fascist ruling AKP-MHP want to turn the prison of Amed into a museum to cover up the attack it is carrying out in there. However, in the same time we see, that the AKP-MHP has turned all Turkish prisons into prisons like Amed. How do you evaluate the plans to turn the famous prison of Amed into a museum and to showcase the attacks against prisoners?

By looking at the current situation, we can see that the attacks on Kurdish prisoners have surpassed the ones from September 12. In the context of September 12 there was crude physical torture every day, but now the attacks on prisoners have increased in a multidimensional way. For example, when they were in Amed, all their families used to come and see their children, but now prisoners are sent far away from Kurdistan so that they cannot see their families. This is a conscious policy. There was torture in the prison of Amed, people resisted against it and lost their lives. Now they are creating such an environment that everyone gets sick and people are dying of illness. On September 12, there were not so many prisoners, there were around three thousand in all prisons. But now it has increased a lot. They are imprisoning not only militants and cadres but also all patriots.

In this respect, the AKP’s claim that Amed will become a museum is a mockery of the Kurdish people. Kurds want it to be a museum of human rights, but that is not what the AKP thinks to do. It will make it part of the Kurdish genocide. There is a great resistance against the attacks in the prisons. Because the enemy wants to destroy the PKK completely, political prisoners are being attacked the most. The enemy is thereby focusing the most on Rêber Apo, because he created conscious and awareness within the people and organized them. It is a situation that needs to be well evaluated and the people should support the prison resistance in every possible way.

The fascists of AKP-MHP want to make their own constitution using the argument that the September 12 constitution is a coup constitution. Why does this fascist government, which has not even enforced the coup constitution until today, feel the need to make a new constitution?

One has to laugh at the AKP’s claim that they will make a civilian constitution and get rid of the military constitution. The constitution they will make will be more backward than the current constitution, that’s for sure. They will make a constitution of genocide against the Kurds. They will make a constitution of intimidation on revolutionaries. After the ‘Ararat Rebellion’ [1926], there was a cartoon in the Milliyet newspaper, “The imaginary Kurdistan is buried here”. This constitution is a kind of imaginary Kurdistan, imaginary socialism, imaginary democracy. That is why, as we have stated before, no one should participate in these constitutional debates, no one should take them seriously. None of the opposition should take it seriously, the Kurdish democratic movement should not take it seriously. We have stated before that the Turkish state has a one-article constitution, the constitution for the genocide of the Kurds. Now they will make it more systematic. A constitution that does not recognize the existence of Kurds cannot be a democratic constitution, a civil constitution. It would be a constitution of genocide. It cannot be a democratic constitution, because democracy is being opposed, so that the Kurds cannot benefit. In this respect, a democratic constitution can only be a constitution that recognizes the existence of Kurds.

No one should get involved in constitutional debates. It should be said that you are making fun of the people, you are demagoguing, you will make a constitution worse than the military constitution, you will make a constitution resembling the one of Hitler. In this respect, the approach to the constitution should be measured and approaches such as it can be discussed and debated should be avoided.

The Turkish army continues to abuse the bodies of fallen guerrilla fighters. The bodies are sent to their families in boxes. Again, attacks on guerrilla cemeteries continue. The attitude of the martyrs’ families against these attacks is very clear. What is the importance of this attitude of the martyrs’ families in the struggle?

First of all, I would like to respectfully greet the families of the martyrs. They reveal a very respectable and historical stance with their attitude. They reveal what the attitude of the Kurdish people should be. By saying, “We gave our son, but this is our attitude,” they are showing everyone what the approach towards the genocidal enemy should be. These practices have no other meaning as their wish to erase every trace of the Kurds. Not even their graves, not even their names, not even their history shall remain if it is up to them.

This is the result of a genocidal mentality. In this respect, the attitude of the martyrs’ families is valuable. But the families of martyrs have to also be supported by the people, everyone has to support them. They give their children, but they do not give up their stance. They say that the greatest pain is being inflicted on them, and the way to relieve this pain is to struggle. It is not enough just to cry over the pain. Martyrs’ families show that it is not just crying in the face of pain, but taking a stance and fighting. They are already the value of our struggle. If the struggle of the Kurdish people has not been liquidated until today, then it is because of the stance of Kurdish mothers and martyrs’ families. These people will be the subject of novels, all kinds of music and art. This needs to be understood and acted upon by everyone.

While the inhumane attacks of the fascist Turkish army have been exposed with many documents, ‘Republican People’s Party’s’ (CHP) MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu’s mere mention of an ‘European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) ruling in the press caused an uproar in Turkey, so to speak. Tanrıkulu was closely to be lynched by a fascist mob, but there was no ownership from his own party. There was no serious reaction from the opposition either. How should this situation be understood?

It is an approach related to the Kurdish genocide. They are hostile to everything that will shake, decipher and expose this genocide policy. Because they are committing the gravest crime in the world, the crime of genocide. There is no greater crime than this. When Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Merdan Yanardağ, Sezgin Tanrıkulu and other intellectuals expose this genocide crime of the Turkish state, they see them as the biggest enemy. The issue is not what Sezgin Tanrıkulu says. This is a basic policy. It is to threaten all democrats, intellectuals, everyone. They want to say that in Turkey there will be no intellectuals, no democrats, no socialists, no one will speak the truth. They are saying that only our genocide policy will be approved. What needs to be understood from these facts is that the Turkish state’s policy of genocide against the Kurds is unlike any other policy anywhere in the world.

There are national liberation movements in other parts of the world, they say that the problems there have been solved in this way, and that this is how they will be solved here, but it is not true, it is wrong to think like that. When we were in Oslo, a very valuable person, a democrat who fought in the Republic of Ireland, told us how they negotiated with the UK during the Oslo talks and how they came to a conclusion. They have had experiences, they have made great efforts, but the Kurdish reality is different from these. In fact, the reason why the intellectuals in the world and the intellectuals in Turkey cannot fully grasp the Kurdish reality is because they compare it to other events in the world. Everyone needs to get rid of this. There are also those among us who think like this. This is a very serious misconception.

The solution to the Kurdish question under the conditions of the Turkish state is through struggle. It is through a determined struggle against genocide. If the genocidal will is not broken through this struggle, the Kurdish problem cannot be solved. Approaches such as if we take a soft approach, if we behave like this, the Turkish state will come to faith, it will show a democratic approach, there will be progress for a solution, is self-deception. If you don’t struggle, you will be subjected to genocide, the Kurdish problem cannot be solved without struggle. So no one should deceive themselves. The situation of the state is understood by no one better than Rêber Apo and he takes a clear stand. They do not let him meet with anybody because of his stance against the AKP-MHP government. In this respect, everyone should know very well why the Turkish state attacks Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Merdan Yanardağ, Sezgin Tanrıkulu and other intellectuals like this. Some Kurdish intellectuals, some Kurdish politicians are really not aware of where they live. They have not grasped the reality of the Turkish state. We expect them not to loosen the struggle of the people, but to radicalize it even more and take a firm stance.

While the ‘Peoples’ Democratic Party’ (HDP) is holding its congress, the ‘Green Left Party’ (YSP) is also preparing for its congress. While these congresses are taking place, the municipal elections are already being discussed. There is talk about how the YSP will proceed in the municipal elections. How do you see these discussions?

The HDP and YSP are doing an electoral accounting, making self-criticism and evaluations. These are good steps, but the opposition needs to see some realities. For example, there was an earthquake, hundreds of thousands of people died, 13-15 million people were affected. It was forgotten as if it had never happened, as if the AKP-MHP government was not responsible. Even this shows how ineffective the opposition is. Of course, socialists and Kurdish democracy forces should also play a more effective opposition role. The policies of the third way means this. The third way means organizing among the people and waging the struggle decisively. The third way means an approach to create a more correct opposition against this government, that cannot find a solution to Turkey’s problems. It is an understanding of organization, an understanding of struggle. It means what kind of a Turkey, what kind of a Kurdistan, what kind of a Middle East we envision. It is necessary to concentrate on this, on the question how much the third way has been put into practice.

Some discussions are discussions of diverting the third way. Saying that it was done a certain way in the last elections or not is a separate situation, it has nothing to do with whether it is suitable for the third way or not. Every party, every politics makes tactics when necessary, struggles, utilizes the contradictions within the system while struggling, these have nothing to do with the concept of the third way. In this respect, the third way has indeed been weakened and distracted from its real meaning by squeezing it into the past elections. The third way is the way of struggle, the way to fight more effectively, to wage a bigger war for freedom, to resist more, to organize more, to fight together with the people. It is the way to get rid of the influence of capitalist modernity. It is the way to get rid of the middle class and petite bourgeois influence, and conformism. What are you going to do when the other side is pursuing a policy of genocide? The third way is the way of struggle against genocide.

The Kurdish people are a conscious people, and the Kurdish movement has great experience. It is not a political movement that can be influenced from here and there. Because it is a movement that emerged out of the Serhildans [popular uprisings]. The Serhildans of 1989 and the early 90’s created such a democratic political movement. It has such a foundation. There was a struggle, an environment was created, a democratic and social revolution took place and a political space emerged. And this space was created by the guerrilla movement. The people stood up, the youth and women stood up, as a result of the guerrilla struggle. Any political power that is not based on its history weakens and melts away. In this respect, I believe that the Kurdish political movement and the Kurdish people will draw conclusions from the shortcomings and enter into a stronger struggle.

In 1993, the case of the massacre in Madimak [33 Alevi intellectuals were burned alive in a hotel in Sivas] was dropped on the grounds of the statute of limitations. Alevi institutions and organizations reacted against this. What message does the dismissal of this case carry for Alevis?

First of all, I would like to respectfully commemorate those who were martyred in Madimak. The Madimak massacre is an issue that needs to be evaluated very comprehensively. It is said that IS [Islamic State] first emerged there. IS in mentality, method and practice. The Madimak massacre was an attack by IS. The state watched this and even directed it. That is also why Erdoğan established such close relations with IS. Why Hakan Fidan became the boss of IS and is the one who manages Turkey’s relations with IS. In fact, it was Fidan who ensured that IS leaders were sheltering in the places occupied by Turkey. He is actually a man with an IS mentality. The Sêwas [Turkish name Sivas] massacre is the most concrete example. I know Sêwas very well, since I grew up there, I even passed by the Madimak building almost every day. That is the neighborhood I know best in Sêwas. I sold a lot of stamps at the post office there in my childhood.

There is indeed religious bigotry in Sêwas. It is a society that believes in religion, but it is political Islam, political mentality that makes them attack Alevis like this. Otherwise, only a religious society would not attack, but there has always been Sunni-Alevi tensions in Turkey. Whoever wants to create a problem or stage a coup, immediately provokes such incidents. One of the most important things in the realization of September 12 coup was the massacre of Mereş [Turkish name Kahramanmaraş). The statute of limitations on the Madimak massacre case clearly tells Alevis that they can kill you. Or reactionaries are being told that you can kill and destroy Alevis. Not just a few people were killed there, all Alevis were killed, all Alevis were burned, all Alevis were attacked. The dismissal of the case reveals how reactionary and inhuman the Turkish state is. It is an approach to a society of at least 20 million people. It is the same approach as to the Kurds. It is said that Alevis can be killed and nobody will be held accountable, Kurds can be killed and nobody will be held accountable.

This is why Alevis are easily attacked. They were attacked in Mereş, Meletî (Turkish name Malatya), Sêwas, and tomorrow they may be attacked elsewhere. Because these attacks always go unpunished. This issue needs to raise awareness among Alevis. As long as Turkey is not democratized, these incidents will continue. In this respect, Alevis need to take an active part in the democratization of Turkey. Alevis’ freedom of belief also comes with democracy. Whoever keeps Alevis away from the struggle for democratization is an enemy of Alevis. He is the one who does not want to remove the grounds for Alevis to be subjected to such attacks. The statute of limitations on the Madimak massacre case should also be evaluated correctly by Alevis.

It is the first anniversary of the ‘Jin Jiyan Azadî’ Serhildan that started in East Kurdistan and Iran and spread all over the world. These Serhildans had a great impact. How do you evaluate this Serhildan?

First and foremost, I can say that the most valuable struggle in the world and in the history of humanity is the struggle of women. It is a very valuable and meaningful struggle. On this occasion, I would like to respectfully commemorate both Jîna Amînî and all women martyrs with gratitude. With the murder of Jîna Amînî, women rose up. Because women want freedom. That this occurred in Iran is actually related to the history of the country. The uprising of Kurdish women today is also related to Kurdish history. Kurdistan is a geography of neolithic society and Iran is also part of it. Kurdistan and Iran are the geography where women have played an important role in human history. In this respect, women in Iranian society have always been more inclined to freedom than women in other parts of the Middle East. It has a history open to free life.

Kurdish and Iranian peoples have such a characteristic. This is actually a very valuable feature of Iranian history and society. Those who are involved in politics in Iran, those who deal with sociology, those who are part of the reality of Iranian society, those who are connected to Iranian history, should respect and value this women’s uprising. To oppose the women’s uprising is to oppose Iranian history, to oppose Iranian reality, to fight against its own reality. The Islamic Republic of Iran is actually fighting with its own reality. A negative approach against the women’s liberation system should be considered as a negative approach against its own history.

The women’s revolts in Kurdistan and Iran are based on socialism. It is not an understanding of freedom based on individualism, based on the petite bourgeois, like in Europe. The women’s liberation line is a line of freedom that is based on society, that defends society, that embraces not individualism, not materialism, not the values created by capitalist modernity, but the socialist values that capitalist modernity has destroyed. It is also meaningful in this respect. It is the beautiful, bright face of the Middle East. Therefore, all the peoples of the Middle East should be honored. The peoples of Iran should also be honored. The Iranian regime should approach the women’s issue differently. No one can prevent the women rising up in Iran by suppressing them. Iran will change, it has to change. With the women’s liberation line, it has become inevitable for Iran to change. It is a mistake for the Iranian state to attribute this uprising to the influence of foreign powers. It is necessary to produce the right policies and solutions by addressing the situation of women with the right approach.