our interviews

may 20, 2024

I would like to start the program by congratulating you on Kurdish Language Day. What would you like to say about this important occasion?

First of all, I wish a happy Kurdish Language Day to everybody. This day becomes more important for Kurdish society in the face of the very strong assimilation policy aimed at them. Some forces want to eliminate the Kurdish people. Language and culture are the basis of the existence of a people. If a society loses this, it cannot survive; it will cease to exist. Today, technology is very advanced, and it is particularly the occupying forces that benefit the most from this. They are putting forward an intense assimilation policy in order to achieve their goals. Therefore, they use any form of technology and science. The genocidal Turkish state distributed tablets to many Kurdish children, even in primary schools. They install programs on these tablets, and through those, they want to turn all Kurdish children into Turks. They aim to separate Kurdish children from their identity and reality. Like this, they seek to eliminate Kurdish society.

All of our people must protect their language and culture. Not only Kurmanji but also Dimilki, Sorani, and Gorani, all dialects must be protected and developed. They should speak, write, and live according to their language and culture. Day by day, our people are taking some steps in developing Kurdish language and culture. This is positive but also insufficient; much more has to be done to be able to reverse policies of assimilation. For example, the people often give their children Kurdish names, the names of martyrs, which is a very good thing. But if they give these names, they should also teach their children the importance of these names. They should tell their children in detail where these names come from and what they mean to Kurds, so that these children do not drift away from their society and reality.

The occupying Turkish state continues its policy of genocide, especially through language and culture. In order to liquidate this society, it first aims to destroy their language and culture. Our people, our youth, will have to protect their language and culture that is their future. They will have to live and struggle for themselves. Therefore, they must take the struggle for freedom as a basis. For a person to claim their language and culture, means to claim the principle of freedom. This is a struggle, a great struggle, on a social, military, and intellectual level. If our people do not want to disappear in the face of assimilation, they must protect their language and culture, fight for themselves, and raise their children according to Kurdish culture. Wherever they are, all our people should speak Kurdish at home and outside, keep their culture alive, and live based on this mentality.

The Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Ocalan has been under total isolation for 38 months, but the responsible minister of the occupying state still claims, “There is no isolation, everything is normal, he is enjoying all his rights”. What is the reason for this torture and these statements? What should be done against this?

The politics being implemented against Rêber Apo1 are the politics of genocide. They are conducting the politics of genocide against the Kurdish people in the person of Rêber Apo. As it is known, Rêber Apo went to Europe to solve the Kurdish question through political means. He even defined eight points for a democratic solution in Europe. Europe’s response was the international conspiracy2. This shows Europe’s approach towards Kurdish society and the Kurdish question. If Europe wanted the Kurdish question to be solved through political means, they would not have taken such an approach towards Rêber Apo. If today Rêber Apo is being subjected to severe isolation and unlimited torture, not only the Turkish state and the AKP-MHP government are responsible for this, but also NATO and Europe, who took part in this conspiracy. The ‘European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment’ (CPT) is implementing the decisions made by Europe. And it does so by collaborating with the Turkish state.

Europe talks a lot about law, justice and human rights, but these are all lies. The politics developed against Rêber Apo has revealed both the reality of the Turkish state and the reality of Europe. Everyone sees this. There is no justice, no law, no human rights. They have trampled on everything for their own political and economic interests. And they are sacrificing the Kurdish people for this. This situation is as clear as day. Europe’s law and justice have gone bankrupt. Instead of justice and law, they apply the laws of Gladio.

There is never justice in Gladio’s laws, there is arbitrariness, death and massacre. If this policy against Rêber Apo had been carried out against anyone else in the world, these institutions would have raised hell. But today we see that they act deaf and dumb. The Turkish Justice Minister said there is no isolation, everything is going perfectly. He went on TV and told such big lies. Where does he get the courage to stand in front of these cameras, lying and deceiving? He is backed by Europe, and NATO; by the forces that developed the international conspiracy. If these forces had not given him the courage, he would not have been able to make such a speech.

Let’s take Veysi Aktaş3 as another example. He has already served his sentence of 30 years, but they extended his sentence so to not to release him. Where is the law here? Where is justice? It is completely arbitrary; they are applying Gladio laws. They are not releasing someone who has remained in prison for 30 years. What can be understood is that there are some things going on in that prison that should not be leaked out. That’s why they are extending Veysi Aktaş’s sentence for one more year. This explains everything. In Imrali, a system which has been developed by NATO, Europe, the CPT, and the traitorous Kurds who paved the way for the conspiracy, is being implemented. Our people must increase their struggle against this. They should read the writings of Rêber Apo over and over again, understand his prison writings, and increase their struggle accordingly. Only when our people and the international friends of our people increase the struggle and put pressure on this system will the conspiratorial forces be forced to give up this policy. If this does not happen, they will persistently continue their politics.

I call on all the lawyers; it is necessary to develop the legal struggle in the most efficient way. They should not take small steps and then complain that they achieve nothing. They need to strengthen the legal struggle. They should develop this struggle together with international lawyers and legal experts. This is a struggle, and it must be understood as such. If it is understood this way, when the legal struggle is strengthened, NATO, Turkey, the EU, and the CPT will be pressured. When the reactions against the isolation increased, they were forced to make a statement. The head of the CPT confessed everything in his speech and made it clear what kind of politics was being carried out.

The global campaign under the name ‘Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan, a Political Solution to the Kurdish Question’ has being ongoing for eight months and has entered its second phase. How do you evaluate the level the campaign has reached and what needs to be done next?

Many comrades and patriots are struggling in the prisons of Turkey in order to ensure the success of the campaign. That is an honorable  struggle. Our imprisoned comrades have developed an attitude against the International Conspiracy; they said: “Since you are conducting absolute isolation against Rêber Apo, we want to live like Rêber Apo; you cannot separate us from Rêber Apo. We do not accept that you cut off all communication with Rêber Apo, torture him every day and every hour, and apply different laws to us. Therefore, if Rêber Apo cannot meet with his lawyers and family, we will not meet with our lawyers and families either. We will not appear in your courts either. You are playing with Rêber Apo’s health and waging a special war; we do not accept this.”

They stated this and took accordingly action. They took Rêber Apo, his approach, and his resistance as the basis for their own approach and resistance.

Also, many international intellectuals, writers, academics, politicians, and lawyers sent letters to the CPT. They demanded that the CPT release the report on Imrali, and they demanded their right to go to Imrali immediately. They wrote: “We are skeptical whether Rêber Apo is on Imrali or not and what his condition is. Why are you preventing us from having contact with him?” Every day, they send such letters and give statements. Again, our people, especially in Rojava, are demonstrating every day in the frame of the campaign. There are demonstrations, statements, letters, and protests in the other parts of Kurdistan as well. I take this opportunity to greet, congratulate, and pay my respects to all who took part in and organized these.

As you said, the first phase of the campaign was completed successfully despite all its shortcomings. It created an agenda. We then developed the second phase, which is still ongoing. Some actions are being taken, but they are incomplete. These actions need to be developed more strongly. If we do not develop these actions in diverse ways, if we do not create great pressure on the occupying Turkish state, on the CPT, and on the Council of Europe, they will insist on this policy they are conducting. Our people need to be aware of this. Rêber Apo’s prison writings are being read both by our people and internationally. This is a very good result of the campaign. This work needs to continue with more strength and be carried to the next level. All of us should read the prison writings, write down what is said there, share it with others, and discuss them. In this way, everybody participates. Like Rêber Apo said, “Wherever my prison writings are, there am I.”

Rêber Apo demanded of us that we spread his ideas everywhere. This is the duty of every comrade, every patriot, and every international friend of the Kurdish people. Everyone should put forward a program on how to further spread the prison writings through seminars, workshops, etc. There should be a very strong social movement, both among Kurds and internationally. The current actions do not complement each other; they are being carried out piecemeal. These actions should complement each other so that their power can emerge. Many people conduct simultaneous actions without knowing each other. That is why these actions do not yield strong results. For example, a central legal committee for Rêber Apo must be established. That committee should protect Rêber Apo’s rights and law and develop the struggle for this. It should mobilize everyone on this basis. As long as the work is carried out outside of this framework, the second phase of the move cannot be successful.

What is the aim of the second phase of the campaign? To ensure the physical freedom of Rêber Apo, to end the policy of the occupiers and conductors of genocides against the Kurds, and to ensure the freedom of the Kurdish people. This is why this campaign is a strategic one. Based on this, everyone should know and fulfill their duties, no matter where they are. This is what I ask of everyone.

We are in the month of May, which your movement calls the ‘Month of the Martyrs’. How do you evaluate the importance of the May Martyrs in today’s struggle?

We have designated May as the ‘Month of Martyrs’ and May 18th as ‘Martyrs’ Day’. This must be understood very well. For us, May is not the only month of martyrs, neither is May 18 the only day of Martyrs. We are the movement of martyrs. We walk in the footsteps of the martyrs; we are based on their goals and dreams. We give more martyrs every month, every day. With the sacrifice of more and more people, our values are shaped. Thus, we protect and defend them by staying true to their sacrifices. Our people have revived and developed this; this tenet has reached the international arena, and now humanity sees the Kurdish people as a great hope. This was achieved entirely through the struggle of the martyrs. This movement is based on their struggle. Whatever we have gained, we have gained with these martyrs. We owe them, and we want to repay this debt. We struggle on this basis. We develop ourselves with their dreams, their emotions, their struggle and the values they created. This is our strength. That is why this movement has become a freedom movement and a great hope for humanity.

Rêber Apo made it possible for us to follow in the footsteps of the martyrs because he searched to create values for the Kurdish people. Because before, all the values of the Kurds had been taken away from them. That is why the Kurds were very close to extinction. That is why Rêber Apo developed this great struggle. And he developed this with martyrs. Everyone of them contributed as a spark to increase the flame in order to create values for the Kurdish people. The revival of those values also symbolized the revival of the Kurdish people. It developed and, in this way, became a hope for humanity. If a society does not create values for itself, if it does not strengthen and develop its values of freedom, that society cannot survive.

If our people are standing on their own two feet today, if they are writing history today, if they are a great hope for humanity today, it is all thanks to these values created by the martyrs. The reason we declared May 18 Martyrs’ Day is because Haki Karer4 was murdered on that date. Comrade Haki was neither Kurdish nor from the society of Kurdistan. He was from Turkey. Comrade Haki stood up for the Kurdish people during a time when the Kurds were not claiming their own cause or opposing the politics of the genocidal Turkish state. Because the Turkish state has always pursued the strategy of isolating the Kurds, In this way, it aimed to eliminate the Kurds. Comrade Haki opposed this policy and took part in the movement. That is why he was murdered.

In this month, great militants were martyred from not only among us, but also among the peoples of Turkey and the Arabs. Many struggles for freedom and democracy developed in the Middle East. Many people were martyred. In Turkey, this included: Deniz Gezmiş5, Hüseyin İnan6, Yusuf Aslan7, Sinan Cemgil8, İbrahim Kaypakkaya9, and those that were killed in the mine in Soma10. Again in Rojhilat11, four Kurdish revolutionaries were executed. Suleyman Mouni12 was murdered, Leyla Qasim13 was martyred. So there are such great martyrs in all parts of Kurdistan and in Turkey. In the PKK, Mehmet Karasungur14, comrade Mizgîn15, Kasim Engin16 were martyred, we could mention many more. Over 100 comrades where murdered in the Hewler (Erbil)17 massacre committed by the Barzanis.

On this occasion, I commemorate all these martyrs with respect. I reiterate our promise to the martyrs. We developed this struggle with our martyrs and we are still developing it with them. We will never deviate from Rêber Apo’s line, which is the line of the martyrs. Just as Rêber Apo is the spokesperson of the martyrs, all the militants of this movement, the PKK and PAJK will continue their struggle on the path of the martyrs. They will put everything at the service of this line. In this line there is success. Every one of our people should take the martyrs as a basis, research and study their lives, infuse their own lives with the lives of the martyrs so that they can keep those martyrs alive. This is the duty of all of us.

The Turkish state is the enemy of the Kurdish people, both in prisons and outside. Not only in Northern Kurdistan but in all its parts. Our people are aware of this. Every day now, corpses are coming out of prisons. They throw old women, 60, 70-year-old people who cannot walk, into prisons. They are taking revenge on the Kurdish people. In this way, they want to achieve their goals by intimidating everyone and deviating them from the struggle. This is exactly why they are conducting these politics. They are carrying out this policy of genocide in prisons, outside, and in all parts of Kurdistan. Our people need to know this very well and feel great anger against the enemy. You cannot live alongside this enemy. Everything the enemy develops in Kurdistan is for the complete elimination of Kurds. It is a requirement of patriotism to rejects this. Being a patriot requires standing against occupation and genocide in every sense. This is the right and duty of every Kurd.


1 Referring to Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Ocalan.

2 By international conspiracy he refers here to how Abdullah Ocalan was kidnapped in violation of international law on February 15, 1999 and taken to the prison island of Imrali after he had gone through a political odyssey through various countries that began on October 9, 1998. The forced odyssey and abduction is verifiable the work of various states and secret services, above all the CIA, Mossad, the Greek and Italian states.

3 Veysi Aktaş is one of the four detainees in the Imrali high security island prison where there has been no sign of life since March 2021. He was transferred to the island in 2015 together with Hamili Yildirim and Omer Hayri Konar, after Abdullah Ocalan had been the only detainee held there since 1999.

4 Haki Karer was one of Abdullah Öcalan’s first companions and was an essential part of the group that laid the foundations of the Kurdish freedom movement. He was murdered in an assassination in Dîlok (tr. Antep) on May 18, 1977.

5 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.

6 Hüseyin İnan 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.

7 Yusuf Aslan 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.

8 Sinan Cemgil was one of the leaders of the Turkish left and a pioneer of the ’68 movement. He was He was killed in a firefight on May 31, 1972 in Nurhak.

9 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.

10 The Soma mine accident occurred on May 13, 2014 in one of the two Eynez lignite mines in Soma in the western province of Manisa in Turkey. According to official figures, 301 miners died and 486 survived.

11 Referring to Eastern Kurdistan, laying in today’s Iran.

12 Suleiman Moini was a Kurdish revolutionary and militant of the KDP-Iran who was assassinated by Mustafa Barzani on May 15, 1968.

13 Leyla Qasim was a Kurdish revolutionary fighting against Saddam Hussein’s regime. After her arrest on April 28, she was executed in Baghdad on May 12, 1974.

14 Mehmet Karasungur was a founding member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). He was murdered in a PUK assassination in Qendil on May 2, 1983.

15 Hozan Mizgîn (Gurbet Aydın) was an artist and militant of the Kurdish freedom movement. She martred on May 11, 1992 in Tatvan.

16 Kasim Engin (Ismail Nazlikul) was a member of the PKK Central Committee and was murdered in a Turkish attack in the Bradost area of Southern Kurdistan on May 27, 2020.

17 On May 16, 1997, KDP peshmerga massacred 62 wounded and sick guerrilla fighters who were in a hospital in Hewler (Erbil) at the time. In addition, 21 other officials, including journalists and women’s rights activists, were killed. The incident became known as the Hewler massacre.