our interviews

june 13, 2024

To begin with, we would like to talk about the Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Ocalan. There has been no new information from the prison island of Imrali or about Ocalan for over three years. The isolation continues, but so does the resistance, which seems to have increased significantly in recent months. How do you assess the current situation?

First of all, I respectfully greet Rêber Apo1, the pioneer of the Imrali resistance. The attacks, isolation, torture, and solitary confinement continue in Imrali, where at the same time the most comprehensive and meaningful resistance in history is also continuing. There has not been any change in this regard lately. We already pointed out before that those so-called ‘disciplinary penalties’ are developed as an excuse for this isolation. But this was not only an excuse for isolation or to prevent meetings with Rêber Apo; it was actually a legal cover to prevent the resumption of his trial and his physical freedom within the framework of the so-called “Right to Hope”. It was already expected that the Turkish state would play this card again, and indeed, they issued another disciplinary penalty. Of course, they give no reason or explanation for this decision, which makes it even more unacceptable. One can state that Rêber Apo is the most disciplined and organized person in this world. Thousands, tens of thousands of people know this. In fact, the rulers of the Turkish state who imposed these fraudulent penalties are also very aware of this. This is something that needs to be well understood.

On the other hand, the fact that this attack is being heightened to such an extent is proof that there is a great resistance in Imrali and that, in fact, the international conspiratorial forces and particularly the Turkish state, with their genocidal system, have failed and were defeated in the Imrali struggle. There is a great resistance that continues on the basis of condemning the fascist, colonialist, and genocidal mentality and politics. It is also necessary to understand this aspect, and according to this, one ought to correctly and adequately join this resistance. This is of great importance.

We must expose the system in Imrali, which is based on illegality and immorality. As we pointed out before, the legal struggle is also of great significance in this regard. Many lawyers and jurists are doing this through various meetings and conferences, which is very important and meaningful. Imrali is a unique example of immorality and lawlessness. Those who believe in the justice of law, will refuse to accept this. One does not even have to be a democrat or a leftist, socialist to feel the urge to oppose this system. In other words, those who believe in the law cannot legitimize or accept the system and regime in Imrali. In this respect, it is very important to expose, decipher, unmask, and reveal what kind of immoral and lawless attack the Imrali system is.

The struggle against the Imrali system of genocide is spreading and developing both in Kurdistan and abroad. The struggle has gained facets and diversified a bit. Since October 10, on the basis of our global freedom campaign, there has been a spread, enrichment, and growth in the actions aimed at the physical freedom of Rêber Apo. Of course, the demand for the freedom of Rêber Apo needs to grow more. We should definitely not be content with the stage which has been achieved. It is necessary to develop the campaign further in every field, to make it much bigger, in order to be successful in this struggle. Because only through struggle can results be achieved. Any other path is a dead end.

I would like to take this opportunity to once again greet all those who play an active role in this campaign. For example, those who conduct the actions in and around the prisons. They continue without the slightest regression or weakening. Gradually, the mass actions around the prison resistance are growing step by step. This development is of great value. In every field, mass actions continue. There has been significant pressure on the ‘European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment’ (CPT) in this process. When the fact that it did not fulfill its legal duties was revealed and reflected in public opinion, many actions were developed. There were actions by women, actions where letters signed by publicly known intellectuals were sent, writers, artists, workers, trade unionists, democrats, leftists, socialists, friends of the Kurds, in fact almost all segments of society that are the brains and hearts of societies that believe in law and justice, from almost all states in Europe. Their letters were sent to the CPT, which was asked to uphold its mandate. A call was made, and several demands were put forward for the CPT to go to Imrali and get information. The CPT was called upon to uphold its duty and responsibility.

This is very important and needs to be continued and further developed. It has become clear that as the lawlessness and injustice in Imrali grows, so does the resistance for freedom and democracy. This resistance stems from Imrali and continues to spread to more and more segments, spreading in the form of waves to societies all over the world. Wherever this wave reaches, people are opposing this lawlessness; they care about the struggle for the freedom of Rêber Apo and participate in this struggle in various ways. This is a very important and meaningful situation. Firstly, no one can stand in the way of a struggle which has reached such heights. No one can prevent the success of the global freedom campaign that has been launched for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo. This campaign will definitely succeed. Artists, intellectuals, and all other circles are participating in this campaign. The actions of the youth and women continue as well. We need to spread this; we need to make it bigger.

Though this global freedom campaign, this massive struggle for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo, was announced on October 10, 2023, it started long before. There is, for example, the Freedom Vigil in Strasbourg, which started 12 years ago and, since then, uninterruptedly continues to carry out the vigil for Rêber Apo’s freedom. This vigil is largely conducted by Kurdish patriots living in Europe. Young people, women, workers, and laborers from different countries in Europe come together from different places every week, to keep vigil together. On June 25th, this action completes its 12th year. It has been announced to the press that there will be a mass demonstration on this anniversary. Importance should be given to this action, not only because it is one of the longest-lasting freedom actions, but also because it is an action that paved the way for today’s global campaign for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo and the democratic solution to the Kurdish question. It should be seen in this way. We call on strong participation regarding the mass demonstration on the 12th anniversary of the vigil in Strasbourg.

The diaspora in Europe should particularly take this into consideration. For 12 years, this action has continued uninterruptedly. On behalf of our party leadership, I congratulate and greet everyone who participated in this action. They will be successful, and they have already created the foundations for strong hope, will, and finally success. They have influenced all the Kurdish people, our people living all over the world, as well as all the freedom-seeking and democratic circles of the world. Now their action has grown and has become a benchmark. In fact, it has become the most fundamental pillar of our current global freedom campaign. I am convinced that it will develop even further, that it will continue, and that it will yield important results. Based on this, I once again greet everyone who has participated in this action and wish them success.

As the Turkish state continues to attack the Guerrilla Areas (Medya Defense Zones), the actions carried out by the guerrilla, particularly the downing of drones and UAV’s, seem to have put the Turkish army in deadlock. How do you evaluate the ongoing conflict?

Recently, there have been guerrilla actions across the Medya Defense Zones2, in Avashin, Zap, and Metina. There have also been actions in Xakurke and these continue. The guerrilla continues to deal blow after blow to the invading, aggressive AKP-MHP fascist hordes on a daily basis.

What [the Turkish army] relied on the most, was their technological advantage. They had named the war “a war of technology and intelligence”. Right now, the situation of their intelligence officers is similar to that of their technology. Of course, from the outside this is not seen so easily because [the Turkish army] operate covertly. On their part, many details are not being disclosed. Neither the public in Turkey, nor the foreign public are aware of the activities of the Turkish army. But some things can no longer be hidden, in one way or another the activities of the Turkish army are being revealed. The HPG-BIM has reported on the latest developments in the war and various other circles amongst the press are also spreading the information. Now the debris of the AKP-MHP is raining down from the sky. This is what has become of South Kurdistan.

It was said that Zap and the Medya Defense Zones as a whole would be turned into the grave of fascism. Right now, fascism is collapsing exactly there. Not that fascism is getting stronger; this aggravation is proof that the fascist AKP-MHP is trying to keep itself alive through force. It is trying to prolong its life, and this is a process that should not be underestimated.

For years, the stooges of the AKP and their TV channels propagated about how their UCAVs fly. They used every opportunity to exhibit those UCAVs flying and attacking, but for some reason they do not show how the UCAV’s look when they are falling. That is why we are showing this to the world; let everyone see this.

The latest strikes on May 27 and June 6 were, again, important. Obviously, there is now a balance in the technological gap. The AKP-MHP fascists will no longer be able to act as they want. Therefore, I congratulate both the comrades who struck those heavy blows against the fascist hordes of the AKP-MHP, especially in Zap, Avashin, Metina, and Xakurke, and all those who contributed to the downing of these UCAVs. I salute the HPG and YJA STAR command and fighter force, who are fighting in the most difficult conditions in order to smash the AKP-MHP fascism.

Accordingly, I commemorate with love and gratitude all the great martyrs of this heroic struggle, especially comrades Zîlan, Şahan, and Serhat, the latest martyrs of Metîna. They struggled according to the Apoist tenets of self-sacrifice and stayed loyal to the memory of the martyrs. The commanders of our Central Headquarters have issued many press releases lately, stressing that our people ought to observe and understand the recent developments. This is important. Yes, the UCAVs are falling, but our people must ask how they are falling. The fascist hordes are taking blow after blow. A week ago, the HPG disclosed the balance sheet for May, which showed this reality clearly. This war is very serious. A balance sheet was also disclosed for the death tolls in Gaza. They are talking about ten, twenty, and even thirty thousand people! This is an atrocity, could it be this easy to kill thirty thousand people? Those who are being killed are people! In fact, that which is being killed there is not only a group of people, but humanity as a whole. This needs to be questioned. Right now, there is slaughter taking place.

People must ask themselves how it is possible that this group of people can put up resistance to such an extent. How do they manage to hold out against such a large army that is completely supported by NATO, 24/7. They are not only defending themselves but dealing this army serious blows. For us, our people must learn to understand how this is possible. It’s not enough that ‘the guerrillas exist; they will fight and strike’. The guerrilla is so much more than this. There must be a widespread awareness, conviction, will, resistance, courage, and sacrifice. All Kurds, whether young or old, women or men, but above all the youth, must come to terms with this. They must learn to understand and feel this. They must internalize this spirit and living accordingly. Any other way of living is not right and would be unacceptable.

The level the guerrilla has reached is really important, it is impressive. In the 80s, our people in Europe used to shout slogans like “the guerrilla strikes [the enemy] and builds Kurdistan”. Now, against an international conspiracy-based attack, the guerrilla is striking and building a free Kurdistan step by step. Together with the resistance of the women, the youth, the guerrilla, and the people as a whole, there is indeed a new life being created. They create a free life, form a new morality, and build new life standards. A new people, free people, is being created, and the basis for free relations is being laid. There is not just bloodshed here. Of course, there is war, and there are difficult conditions, but there is also another side to the coin. What kind of war is being fought? What kind of consciousness and belief will come along with it? What kind of personality is created by it? How may life be reshaped based on principles of freedom? How will women’s freedom and free will based on the coexistence of differences, be shaped? Freedom and democracy are being created. This needs to be seen. Guerrilla warfare is the vanguard of all this, and the war is being waged on this basis. This needs to be understood and supported correctly.

We need to spread this war further. It should not be limited to the guerrillas in the mountains; it should spread more to the cities as well. There is already a certain amount of activism in the cities; I salute those responsible for it, but that is not sufficient. We need to turn this into a war of self-defense everywhere. Without waging such a war, we cannot achieve freedom or establish democracy. It is necessary to be aware of this reality. In this respect, the guerrilla is playing a leading role. The Kurdish people, pioneered by the youth, are supporting this struggle with all their strength. The guerrilla’s sacrifice and the people’s patriotism are complementary to one another. This is essential, since the war will obviously continue. In the coming period, guerrilla activity will diversify, enrich, spread, and develop. I can announce this.

Over the recent days, Erdogan has been conducting meetings with other political parties in Turkey. This came after the AKP-MHP coalition suffered a serious defeat in the recent municipal elections. What can be understood from these meetings and the general situation of the AKP?

What is the situation of the fascist AKP-MHP? It is ambiguous, though the narratives propagated by these circles are not truthful.

The AKP-MHP tried to frighten everyone through psychological warfare, but it seems that they did not achieve the results that they were hoping for with their very exaggerated psychological warfare. Fascism is collapsing; AKP-MHP fascism is dissolving. All their efforts and their propaganda right now are designed to hide this fact. They are trying to deflect this reality. They try to twist the facts so that the truth is unrecognizable and only the image they want to show is seen, so that their collapse and dissolution cannot be seen. They are especially afraid of the Turkish and, particularly, the foreign public. The AKP solely survives with the support it receives from abroad and is afraid to lose this too. They have brainwashed a lot of people with money and with nationalist, sexist, and religious delusions. They have deceived and turned people into enemies of the Kurds, claiming that this would be the road to victory. Now, the AKP is afraid that the people will see the truth and turn away from them. The AKP is in a constant state of fear that the truth is revealed, that they are unable to continue their lie and that their support is cut off. We have always told them that fear is useless. No matter what it does, the fascist AKP-MHP will not be saved from total collapse, and this will happen very soon.

In relation to the current government in Turkey, Rêber Apo said that the mechanisms of the coup d’état are still active. Some other political circles are also drawing attention to this. Every major political decision taken by the state, or more generally, everything fascism does, is actually a coup in itself. Especially in the current environment of resistance, where the mask of fascism has fallen and continues to become exposed by the day, fascism cannot protect and sustain its existence without organizing fascist coups. The attack on the municipality of Colemerg (tr. Hakkari) is also a coup, it is a usurpation of will. After losing the election, the AKP-MHP is trying to seize back control of these municipalities by appointing trustees to them – they had used all kinds of tricks to regain control of these municipalities even during the elections. Despite this, they couldn’t regain those municipalities. Now, after only a few weeks since the elections, they are seizing these municipalities through various guises. What the fascist AKP-MHP wants to do is obvious. This is a battle of the wills. The government is trying to break the will of the people. For eight/ten years, they had constantly appointed trustees. Trustees are appointed after every election. Despite all the pressure and deceptions, the Kurdish people banished the fascist, colonialist, and genocidal AKP-MHP from all their cities again. To make its presence felt again, the government tries to usurp the people’s will. Saying, “Even if you win the election, I will still be the one who rules.” The elections are not respected; instead, colonial law is implemented.

There is, de facto, a different law being applied in Kurdistan. This was also said in parliament. It was said on the rostrums of the parliament, “Kurdistan is a colony. Colonialism is being practiced on Kurds”. Rêber Apo said this 50 years ago. “Colonialism is a crime, the worst thing. It must be fought against,” he said. He called on the people to struggle. For this, he has been kept under the Imrali torture and genocide system for 26 years. What Rêber Apo said back then, is being chanted by the people in the streets today; it is being said on the rostrums of the parliament. I do not know if those remarks are recorded in the official archives of the state, seeing as the state destroys all evidence of its wrong doings. I don’t believe there will be any archives or documents left of such remarks.

They want to destroy all documentation as to the existence of the Kurds. I am sure that they will continue with this mentality and policy and will further act consciously and organizationally in order to achieve this.

As you mentioned and has been widely covered on the media, the AKP regime is attempting to usurp the municipalities it had lost during the elections by appointing its own trustees. The attacks towards Colemerg have particularly been on the agenda, where the state is attempting to criminalize yet another co-mayor. There have been strong reactions towards this, how do you evaluate the situation?

Several different democratic circles, especially those surrounding the DEM Party, stood up for the co-mayor. The democratic parties of the region, the democratic forces, and the people stood up for him. They reacted immediately. And this reaction spread all over Kurdistan, all over Turkey, to Europe, and abroad. People are standing up and fighting against this fascist attack, against the political coup, against the blatant usurpation of will, and against the appointment of trustees. This is important, and I want to salute every one of them. Their stance is valuable and needs to be further strengthened. We need to make this struggle more effective, and it needs to continue until it yields results. It is absolutely necessary to not tolerate this usurpation and to prevent it. Actions must be continued at this level. Many democratic political circles and civil society organizations are making press releases in this regard and are carrying out actions accordingly. The people will not allow Colemerg to be governed by a trustee. Colemerg will not accept such an administration.

Important vigils have been initiated in other municipalities too. But this struggle must go beyond; it must also become a struggle for organization. Municipalities should actually be the place where the people govern themselves as a form of local government. They should be the place where the people organize. The people’s organization must be built around the municipality. The current vigils cannot be just ordinary vigils. The struggle against the appointment of trustees is absolutely necessary. It is necessary to smash the usurpation of will. But this struggle must be transformed into a struggle for education and organization. The people must be able to govern themselves. The Kurdish people have expressed their unacceptance of such policies. The people and democratic society will not accept anyone who does not accept them. As the state accepts society, society will accept them.

The struggle has developed and will further deepen, and the people will become more conscious and organized. Fascism suffered a heavy blow in Kurdistan in the March 31 elections. Kurdistan did not let fascism pass; it never will. With this resistance against the trustees, fascism will not only be defeated; it will be destroyed. The fact that the state is attacking so brutally, is not due to its strength; it is due to its weakness. The peoples of Turkey and the Kurdish community should know this very well. The AKP-MHP fascism is collapsing. It is trying to survive with these attacks. It is trying to prolong its life in this way. So, if we make the struggle more organized, if it spreads and develops, it will throw the AKP-MHP fascism into the trash bag of history. The colonialist, genocidal mentality, and its politics will be destroyed. Turkey will be democratized and Kurds will be liberated, and a democratic Turkey will emerge on the basis of Kurdish freedom.

There is a fascist dictatorship that does not recognize elections. Elections are actually a concrete indicator of democracy. People elect those who they want to be governed by. If the governments elected by the Kurds, by those who want freedom, are not going to represent the Kurds, then the elections are meaningless.

There were some important press releases in this regard that we are closely observing. Particular circles are pointing out that if the government will appoint trustees anyway, what is the point of holding elections? As a matter of fact, all the elections held under the AKP-MHP rule are rigged. There are no real elections. The May 14 and 28, 2023, elections were also rigged. Tayyip Erdogan is not a president who won an election; he is an illegitimate ruler who usurped power and took it by force. In the May 31st elections, we saw this again. In Shirnak, in Colemerg, and in all the cities of Kurdistan, they openly cheated. They transported so many of their own voter base to Kurdish cities, made them cast votes, and still they were unable to win. They could not gain control of Kurdish municipalities through fraud, pressure, or force. As another measure, they are appointing trustees. This makes the elections meaningless. If the AKP-MHP insists on this, people will be encouraged to fight more radically. No one should think that society will just submit to these fascist policies so easily. The resistance against fascism will grow, diversify, and become more violent and radicalized. We have always said that fascism is a total attack; it means war. Total resistance against fascism is necessary and antifascist war must be the center of this.

Now that the government has rendered the elections meaningless, the Kurdish people and the peoples of Turkey, particularly the youth and the women, rise up. If the government continues like this, the people will turn to overthrow this regime. There will be a greater tendency toward revolutionary war. This is important and meaningful, and an appropriate approach is needed.

I want to make a call especially on Turkey’s youth, women, and laborers. Regardless of whether you name what is happening right now fascism or not, whether you name the AKP-MHP dictatorship fascist or not, whether you name it institutionalized or not, I call on you to open your eyes and look at the ongoing aggression, persecution, and fascist war and to join, develop, and radicalize the resistance against it. Participate in the antifascist war and support it. Only through war can this AKP-MHP fascism be destroyed.

I am not saying that it can only be destroyed with war, don’t misunderstand me. But the war will play an important role. The struggle against fascism will only be strengthened through war. As the ‘United Revolutionary Movement of Peoples’ (HBDH), we are leading the antifascist struggle. So, we need to develop this war more and more by struggling. Let’s destroy this fascism and all its games and tricks together so that it cannot further damage Turkey, exploit its riches or harm its society. The important conclusion to be drawn from this is to unite more, to struggle more, and to spread the struggle everywhere. I am speaking especially to the youth. The youth of Turkey need to develop the antifascist war. They must not forget Dev-Genç. They must not forget how the revolutionaries, Mahir3, Deniz4, and Ibrahim5 resist against fascist coups. We must not forget their principles. It is necessary to follow them and to walk in their footsteps. I strongly believe that the organization and action in this way will develop further in the coming period.

Recently, the Middle East Youth Conference was conducted in Beirut. How do you evaluate the conference?

We listened to the results of the Middle East Youth Conference, albeit briefly. There were very important discussions, and important results. 95 young delegates from all societies in the Middle East and North Africa, representing 25 youth organizations from 15 countries, took part in the conference. I want to congratulate the youth of Lebanon and the Middle East for their success. The Kurdish youth participated actively in the conference as well. The question is how the development of the freedom struggle in Kurdistan positively affects the Middle East. How does it bring the youth, women, workers, laborers, and peoples closer together? We saw a concrete and practical example of this in Beirut. It was a meeting of historic importance. From Libya to the Caucasus, from Yemen to Kurdistan, in an environment where so many wars, problems intensify, and conflicts continue, there was a meeting determined to solve all these problems and to lead the way in the search for a democratic solution. Joint decisions were made, and that is of very great importance.

On this basis, I congratulate all those who participated in the Middle East Youth Conference. Its results are of great historical importance. It means great success. We believe that the decisions taken during the conference will be implemented step by step. Some evaluations have already been made in that direction. It was seen during the conference, that those young people are strong-willed as to implement the decisions they have jointly taken. We believe that the appropriate mechanisms to be able to achieve this have been organized. Therefore, the struggle for freedom and democracy in Kurdistan will spread to the entire Middle East and North Africa under the leadership of the youth. This is very clear and will yield results.

It is necessary to know that in the same Beirut, 45 years ago, Rêber Apo established relations with representatives of the Palestinian people, members of the ‘Palestine Liberation Organization’ (PLO), and the Lebanese and Beirut youth, made alliances with them, and worked together. This 45-year-old great struggle continues today. A great intellectual and political will emerged that brought the youth of the Middle East together, paved the way for Middle Eastern Democratic Confederalizm on the basis of Kurdish freedom, and initiated the process leading to this. Back then, Rêber Apo launched his second move from Beirut. Now the Kurdish youth, together with the youth of the Middle East and their peers, are making a breakthrough in Lebanon after 45 years. Just as Rêber Apo set out 45 years ago and brought us here, we believe that the youth will take advantage of this conference, put its resolutions into practice and spread the struggle for freedom and democracy in Kurdistan throughout the whole Middle East and North Africa.

The youth of the Middle East must know that for more than 200 years of European capitalism, capitalist modernity has been attacking the Middle East. It has been waging war in the Middle East for more than a hundred years. It wants to establish complete dominance over the Middle East. This was also a topic discussed at the conference, stating that they reject all foreign interventions. They said that no foreign intervention, especially the Greater Middle East Project, can bring democracy to the Middle East. They added that the democratic will of the peoples of the Middle East will emerge through solidarity and that, as the youth, they will lead the way. A hope and a will were put forward by the youth in Beirut. It is important for the youth to intervene in Gaza, Kurdistan, Yemen, and other places where there is so much bloodshed, so many problems, and so many ideological, political, and military attacks and conflicts of interest that inflicts oppression on the people of the Middle East, every day. It is important that they put forward a will, come together, and decide to make a change. This really gives hope and generates great excitement. We strongly believe that this will continue.

I want to add one thing for the Kurdish youth and the youth of the Middle East. They must understand the foreign attacks, the henchmen in the Middle East, the collaborationists, and the nation-state groups correctly. Nothing positive can be expected from them. The power and the future are in the hands of the peoples, in the hands of women. The youth is in a position that gives spirit, dynamism, and leadership to such a popular movement as ours. They should be well aware of this reality. They should educate themselves well, organize themselves more strongly, and be more resistant. Against this war of interests, the youth should be able to develop the struggle for existence and freedom in solidarity with each other everywhere, in every country, and amongst every society. Otherwise, the democratization and liberation of the Middle East will not be possible. In terms of educating oneself, it is Rêber Apo who has analyzed the attack on the Middle East, the historical reality of the Middle East, the characteristics of its societies, and the solutions to the problems in the most concrete and realistic way. All youth should read Rêber Apo’s prison writings, and these writings should be disseminated to the youth of the Middle East. The youth should educate themselves on the basis of Rêber Apo’s paradigm. This is very, very important. What is right and what is wrong? Who is a friend, who is a foe? What is ugly, and what is beautiful? In order to gain the correct answers to these questions, in order to understand the reality of the Middle East, in order to form a free and democratic will in the Middle East, and in order to become a pioneering youth movement, there is much to learn from Rêber Apo. There is much to learn from his prison writings. There is a resistance that Rêber Apo started 45 years ago in Beirut in solidarity with the Palestinian people and particularly the PLO. Now, this relationship has turned into a massive foundation for democracy and freedom. The Palestinian resistance continues in various forms, but we also see the situation in Gaza. It is necessary to save Gaza from that situation, to turn the struggle of the people into a resistance for freedom, and to take it to a level that leads and inspires the Middle East. The resistance in Kurdistan is carried out on this basis. It is necessary to bring other regions to this level too. There are many things to learn from Rêber Apo. His prison writings must be read, his struggle and practice must be studied, and his style, pace, and way of working must be studied.

Back then, Rêber Apo started from scratch. He went alone to Lebanon, to Beirut. He didn’t even have an interpreter, and he didn’t have any friends there. He started from scratch, developed everything, and created a Kurdistan freedom resistance that now plays a leading role in the Middle East. He was young and alone back then. It can be done, and a lot can be learned from Rêber Apo. Everyone can learn and develop similar practices. In this respect, we believe that the results of this conference will be put into practice in such a spirit, especially by taking upon the Apoist tenets and tempo, by creating the necessary organizational institutions, and by continuing the necessary discussions and meetings. The youth will not surrender to the attacks of capitalist modernity and this nation-state collaborationist system. It will liberate the Middle East from them.

Ideologically, politically and militarily, the youth will develop the struggle for freedom and democracy by organizing in comradeship and solidarity. Against scientism, religionism, sexism and nationalism, and all other kinds of ideological attacks of the liberalism of capitalist modernity, the youth will stand for the democratic modernity. They will learn about democratic socialism, acquire a consciousness of freedom and democracy, educate themselves, organize themselves, and develop organizations on a regional as well as a national level. We have started a process leading to a Democratic Confederal Middle East. The problems of the Middle East will be solved through Democratic Confederalizm and the youth will be the vanguard of creating this.

We hope and believe that this process of struggle will gain great momentum. It will add momentum to an already ongoing process. The fact that this was achieved under such difficult and unfavorable conditions is a great success in itself. On this basis, I once again congratulate the young comrades on behalf of our party and wish them great success in their struggle for freedom and democracy.

We are approaching 30 June, the 28th anniversary of the martyrdom of Zeynep Kinaci, otherwise known as Zilan. What would you like to say in relation to this?

On the 28th anniversary of her martyrdom, I would like to commemorate comrade Zilan6 and all our June martyrs with respect, love, and gratitude. Amongst our movement, June was defined as the month of sacrifice, and our women’s movement defines it as the month of the woman’s self-sacrificial stance. Comrade Gulan7, comrade Sema8, and dozens of other female comrades were martyred in this month. These were all sacrificial pioneers. Through them, June became the month of sacrifice in the history of our struggle. During these 28 years, this sacrificial struggle was developed even further. The guerrillas of the HPG and YJA Star are waging a struggle in the Medya Defense Zones and all over Kurdistan, based on this legacy. Our youth and women’s movement is sacrificially fighting on the tenets created by comrade Zilan.

I would like to point out under the leadership of Zilan, the women and entire society of Kurdistan are becoming more sacrificial. Zilan dragged the Kurdish people and women into such a sacrificial struggle. She liberated them and gave them a will. The trustee appointment policies of the government directly targets this. If one pays attention, it can be easily observed that they are attacking so that women cannot live with their will and freedom, so that Kurds cannot live with their will and freedom, so that they cannot govern themselves. This is the fundamental aim of the attack on the municipalities. The Kurds who are being liberated through their sacrifice, the liberated woman in particular, really frightens the nation-state. It frightens the male-dominated mentality, politics, and system. It frightens the fascist, colonialist, and genocidal mentalities and system. The State is afraid that it will lose its sovereignty: a cruel life based on lies and oppression. For this reason, they attack with all their might. The attack on Kurds and the attack on women are parallel to one another.

Kurdish freedom and the Kurdish women’s freedom will set the standard for all freedoms and democracies. To distinguish whether someone is libertarian or democratic, the standard is one’s approach to the Kurdish and women’s freedom struggle. You can see who is a fighter and who is not by looking at their approach to the women’s struggle and the struggle of the Kurdish people.

These principles were laid by martyr Zilan. Rêber Apo says, “Zilan is the commander, we are under her command, we are her fighters”. This is how the last 28 years have passed, and how the Kurdish and women’s liberation struggle has become so frightening for all backward mentalities. The struggle of Zilan is clear, and what it has created over these past 28 years is also clear. There is no need to add anything to this. So, what should be done on this 28th anniversary? We need to become more conscious of these realities. We need to become more like Zilan. Therefore, it is necessary to become more sacrificial.

A sacrificing society must emerge under the leadership of the women, the youth, the party and the guerrilla. Our revolutionism and patriotism is based on sacrifice, nothing else compares to this. We fight everywhere and under any circumstances, because our consciousness, belief, spirit, and courage are according to these tenets of selflessness. Zilan has become a women’s society, Zilan has become a Kurdish society. Comrade Zilan’s act of sacrifice revealed the reality of a selfless woman and the reality of the Kurdish people. We realize this much more on the anniversary of her martyrdom; we understand and comprehend it more. I believe that especially the Kurdish youth will internalize this reality more. Zilan is not only a person, she is a line which the Kurdish youth in Northern Kurdistan should be aware about and live accordingly. What is Zilan and what is not? For 45 years the youth has waged a great struggle, it has been fighting for 40 years. The guerrilla is a youth organization, our party is a party of the youth. We are continuing what we started with the August 15 breakthrough, 40 years ago.

Today, the youth is resisting against all kinds of fascist, colonialist, genocidal, and special war attacks. It is needed to understand the enemy well, and to recognize its special war well. What is special war and what is not? Special war means the total attack of the capitalist modernity system. It is not a one-dimensional attack, but an attack on all areas of society. It is an attack in every dimension: economic, ideological, psychological, political, military, cultural, and social. It is an attack on the whole of society. But of course, the most dynamic power of society is the youth; so, the youth is under the heaviest attack. The most libertarian power of society is women; so, the women are under the heaviest attack. The youth and women are targeted the most by the attacks of special warfare. Therefore, they must understand the special war well and develop the war of revolutionary self-defense against it. The resistance and struggle against special war must be multidimensional, but at the center of it all is of course the military dimension. If the war does not take the lead, if the war does not pave the way, other struggles cannot develop. Serhildan9 will not develop, mass mobilization will not develop. Revolutionary war must be seen as the key to everything and must be developed under the leadership of the guerrilla.

The youth of Northern Kurdistan should have a better understanding of this. They need to educate and organize themselves more. That is my advice to the young comrades. When I say educate and organize yourself, I don’t mean going to school. Nothing can be learned in the schools of AKP and MHP. In the schools of the Turkish state, one can only forget what they know. They should read Rêber Apo, read the prison writings and his analyses. They should educate themselves continuously. They should not assume that they are already well-educated. Of course, education must be combined with organizing, and organizing must be combined with action. The unity of idea, belief and action is necessary. These are intertwined. This is the Apoist style. This is the Kemal Pir10 style. This is what the Apoist youth must be like. They must lead the struggle with courage and sacrifice, as they have done so far. And above all, they must free themselves from the effects of capitalist modernity. But there are deficiencies in these matters. The effects of modernity are present within the youth, there is a lack of education and accordingly organization. The youth can’t hope that someone else will fight for them. They can easily educate and organize themselves. Actually, we are responsible for this because we do not fulfill our responsibility. So, there are no conditions: let those who can come, come. We can train them. We also want the youth to come.

The Apoist youth is the youth that has trained itself in the line of Rêber Apo. Their language, style, dress, clothing, life, words, everything should be according to this. But when I listen to some young comrades and they say “Mr. Ocalan”. I get scared. I haven’t said Rêber Apo’s name since 1975. We always said “friend”, then “Rêber”, the leader of the party, the leader of the people… You don’t say the name of a great commander. You say “Rêber” and that’s it. It would be better if they said “Rêber Apo” instead. They would also be speaking Kurdish.

We cannot fight against special war, capitalist modernity, colonialism by living according to capitalist modernity. We have to make a revolution of personality, to correct and change our language, our behavior, our lifestyle. The essence of the freedom revolution, the essence of getting rid of the special war is to make a revolution of personality on the basis of a revolution of mentality and conscience. This means being a truly Apoist youth, which means sacrificing like Zilan.

Once again, on the 28th anniversary of her martyrdom, I commemorate comrade Zilan and all our martyrs with respect, love and gratitude, and I call on the Kurdish youth, especially in Northern Kurdistan, to become more like Zilan, to train themselves in her spirit and to become Apoist sacrificial youth.


1 Referring to Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Ocalan.

2 Areas on the border between North, South and East Kurdistan/South-East Turkey, North Iraq and West Iran, that are under the control of the Kurdistan Freedom Guerrilla.

3 Mahir Çayan was one of the leaders of the Turkish left and a pioneer of the ’68 movement. He got killed a firefight with Turkish soldiers on March 30, 1972.

4 Deniz Gezmiş was one of the leaders of the Turkish left and a pioneer of the ’68 movement. He was executed in Ankara on May 6, 1972.

5 Ibrahim Kaypakkaya was one of the leaders of the Turkish left and a pioneer of the ’68 movement. After he escaped injured in a firefight with the Turkish army in January, he was betrayed and arrested a few days later. He was murdered in torture in custody on May 18, 1973.

6 Zeynep Kinaci (nom de guerre: Zîlan) is one of the best known heroes of the Kurdish women’s movement. At a time when the Kurdish women’s movement and Rêber Apo was under attack, the then 23-year-old took the initiative and carried out a self-sacrifice action in Dersim (tr. Tunceli). She detonated a bomb during a military parade of the Turkish army, killing and injuring more than a hundred Turkish soldiers. Zeyneb Kinaci lost her life during this action on June 30, 1996.

7 Filiz Yerlikaya (nom de guerre: Gulan) was a leading militant of the Kurdish women’s movement and a commander of the special forces. On June 7, 2002, she was brutally murdered in Qendîl during an interval at the fourth women‘s congress. Her murder remained unsolved untill it was later discovered that the murder was comitted by collaborationist forces who wanted to weaken the role of women in the Kurdish freedom movement.

8 Sema Yüce was a leading militant of the Kurdish women’s movement. On March 21, 1998, she set fire to her own body in protest against the attempted assassination of the Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan and in solidarity with the self-sacrifice actions of many political prisoners in Turkish prisons. She succumbed to her injuries on June 17, 1998.

9 Kurdish word for popular uprising.

10 Kemal Pir is one of the founding members of the Kurdish freedom movement and is a symbol of prison resistance. Kemal Pir martyred on September 7, 1982 in Amed prison (tr. Diyarbakir) as a result of a death fast that they had begun on July 14.