our interviews

june 20, 2024

First of all, can you give us an overview of the development of the global campaign aiming for the physical freedom of the Kurdish peoples leader Abdullah Ocalan and for a democratic solution to the Kurdish question? What is the status of the international institutions that are responsible for this current situation?

The global campaign aiming for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo has reached a very important stage. It is developing day by day, becoming more universal, and accordingly, the embracement of the campaign has increased. Many internationally recognized intellectuals, writers, academics, politicians, and philosophers have written letters to the ‘European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment’ (CPT); also, dozens of world-renowned Nobel Peace Prize winners wrote letters to the CPT. The prison writings of Rêber Apo1 are widely read and discussed everywhere. In northern Kurdistan and Turkey, reading and discussing actions are being organized. This is of extreme value. Understanding the thoughts and paradigm of Rêber Apo leads to a very serious change and transformation. It leads to a change in mentality and liberates people and society. The more Rêber Apo is understood, the more the struggle for freedom grows and deepens.

The struggle for the freedom and embracement of Rêber Apo is developing. The widespread attention given to his paradigm is very important and sacred for society and humanity since this is a struggle to liberate the peoples. Increasing attention to this must be considered a fundamental struggle for freedom. The physical freedom of Rêber Apo and the freedom of the Kurdish people are completely interwoven. The efforts to liberate Rêber Apo physically are, in essence, efforts to free the Kurdish people, humanity as a whole, and women in particular. This subject needs to be approached as such. The physical freedom of Rêber Apo would mean the resolution of the Kurdish question on a democratic basis and the freedom of Kurdistan. It would mean the democratization of Turkey. It would mean the democratization of the Middle East. Rêber Apo’s freedom is the determinant of all of this.

Rêber Apo is not one person. Rêber Apo represents the will of millions, he is the leader of a people. From this point of view, the slightest progress regarding his physical freedom directly amounts to progress in terms of the democratic solution to the Kurdish question. It also amounts to development and progress in terms of the liberation of Kurds and the liberation of peoples. In this sense, the global freedom campaign is advancing and developing, making significant progress.

It is important that the campaign continue to gain strength. We see that there are various efforts and attempts to prevent this in European states. The global push for freedom has seriously benefited European society and all peoples in general by bringing change, transformation, revitalization, and dynamism. The global system of capitalist modernity is obviously concerned about this. We are aware of efforts to prevent and weaken the global freedom campaign. The forces responsible for this are the forces behind the international conspiracy2. They do not want the paradigm of the democratic nation or the system of democratic modernity to become known by broad society and humanity. A stronger struggle must be waged against attempts to obstruct, prevent, and weaken the campaign. We need to double and triple our efforts to achieve our goal. The most meaningful reaction to adverse approaches is to expand the struggle. We must persist and achieve the goals of the campaign; this is of great significance.

The resistance in the prisons continues to be one of the main pillars of the campaign. A really honorable resistance is being developed there. Again, the families of prisoners and society as a whole are conducting a very powerful struggle. Of course, this struggle needs to be further developed. The second stage of the campaign was initiated. Our international friends and democratic forces who started this campaign, developed a perspective on this basis. In this sense, we need to appeal to the societies more. From time to time, we see that there are shortcomings in the development of the campaign. We need to overcome these quickly.

Also the guerrilla is participating in the campaign the strongest with their actions and resistance. There is nothing much to say about that. But we need to develop the social pillar, the pillar of social resistance, on the other other hand much more strongly. We need to spread and develop the paradigm stronger.

There has been no progress in terms of disrupting the Imrali system of isolation and torture. The struggle of society has burdened and pressured the CPT, the ‘Council of Europe’ (CoE), the ‘United Nations’ (UN), and the ‘European Convention on Human Rights’ (ECHR), which are all relevant international institutions. In general, both the campaign for Rêber Apo and the struggle that has developed as a whole have put both the state and the fascist regime in Turkey in the process of collapse, putting them under serious pressure. This must be intensified even more. Lawyers are applying regularly to meet with Rêber Apo; it is important that this is continued.

Rêber Apo is the leader of a people. Whether he meets with his family or not, it must be prioritized that he be visited by his lawyers. This is his most natural right, according to both Turkish and international law. Right now, the Turkish state is committing a great crime by obstructing lawyers from seeing Rêber Apo. The Turkish state is committing a crime against humanity by breaking and violating the law as a whole. There is a situation of great lawlessness. It is Rêber Apo’s most natural and legitimate right to meet with his lawyers, to meet with others, and to have the right to communicate with the outside world as he wishes, but this is being prevented in a very unlawful and immoral way.

There are also other friends who are being kept on Imrali island with Rêber Apo. The families of these friends are also constantly unsuccessfully applying to meet them. As a whole, there is a situation of isolation within isolation, which is applied to all the prisoners and especially to Rêber Apo. Whether the other friends on the island see their families, lawyers, and guardians, it is most important that Rêber Apo meets with his lawyers because he is not an ordinary prisoner. We cannot treat his situation in the same way as the situation of other prisoners in Imrali. Rêber Apo is the leader of a people, representing the will of millions. It is important that lawyers prioritize meeting with Rêber Apo. Pressure must be intensified against the relevant and responsible institutions to break this system of torture and isolation. It is necessary to create conditions of freedom, security, and health for Rêber Apo.

The CPT is now finding it difficult to maintain their current position, they are being pressured to clarify this situation. The CPT has to disclose information. We see similar pressure in the meetings of the CoE. It is very clear that the Turkish state is also under pressure. We need to pursue this in a stronger way. The relations of the CoE with the Turkish state need to be questioned.

What kind of relationship exists between the CPT and the Turkish state that they violate the international law they have created themselves, that they violate even their own law? What kind of dirty relationship is this? It is necessary to understand the background and content of this relationship very well, to expose it, and to wage a strict struggle against it. The CPT clearly states that the torture in Imrali is a system of absolute isolation. The CPT itself says that this is a crime against humanity. Similar things are said during meetings with the CoE. And Turkey is a member of the CoE. The CPT is an institution affiliated with the CoE. Why do they further tolerate this situation? Why do they condone it? Why are they complicit in it? All the practices in Imrali are policies of Kurdish genocide. We always point this fact out. The policies of Kurdish genocide are the policies carried out in Imrali. These are the policies being implemented on Rêber Apo. The policies being carried out there are widespread. The CoE, CPT, and ECHR are partners in this. The US and UK, who developed the international conspiracy, are partners in this. Why are they partners in such genocide policies?

It is known that the Turkish state has increased its chemical attacks against the guerrilla, particularly in the Medya Defense Zones3. What can be said about these attacks and the resistance of the guerrilla?

The freedom guerrilla is waging a relentless struggle against the Turkish state’s genocidal war. Everyone, especially the Kurdish people, is curious about the course of this war. It is clear that there is a distortion in the press releases made by the circles around the AKP-MHP, which makes it difficult to fully understand the developments of the war. The war continues to maintain and increase momentum. The attacks continue very intensely in Metina and in the west of the Zap area. Chemical weapons are being used very intensively, but generally, all kinds of banned weapons are being used against our comrades. The Turkish state is committing war crimes every day, every hour, and every minute. There are bombardments every other day. The Medya Defense Zones are under very intense, continuous bombardment with warplanes and tanks.

In Metina, the KDP has literally paved the way for the Turkish state. It has handed over Metina and Zap as a whole to the Turkish state and has completely opened that area to occupation. It also provides all kinds of intelligence and logistical support. It is also facilitating its advance, clearing roads, and leading the way. The Turkish state is currently advancing in Metina piece by piece, step by step. Our comrades are putting up a very serious resistance against this. There have been many intense actions carried out by the guerrilla in the recent past. The Turkish army suffered many casualties in Metina. It is the same in Zap. They are using banned weapons in all forms against the positions of the guerrilla. In Qendil, Xakurke, and all over Behdinan, there is intense, daily bombardment by warplanes. We anticipated that in late May or early June, the war would intensify and gain scope, and this is what is happening now. The attacks, bombardments, and efforts to deploy from the ground are intense. And against this, as I have already pointed out, our comrades are developing a strong resistance. On this occasion, I send my greetings to these comrades.

Especially this June, very strong actions developed in central Metina and the center of West Zap. The enemy will continue to take very big blows if it insists on war. Had they been able to occupy West Zap, the Turkish state planned to launch an operation that included Bradost, even extending to Gare. This is what they aimed for, and this plan is still on the agenda. But they needed stronger support to put this plan into practice right at the beginning of June. For example, they held talks with Iraq and asked for open support. Because right now, the Turkish army is stuck. Despite using the most advanced technology in the world, including banned weapons, the Turkish army is in deadlock. They are stuck in Zap and Metina and cannot proceed. That’s why they need Iraq’s support; they want the peshmerga and Iraq to take part in this war more openly and actively. That is why they held meetings with Iraq; they wanted to create a joint operations room in order to coordinate the war together. But it is clear that they still have not reached a full agreement with Iraq on this issue. They are pushing and pressuring Iraq, but Iraq has obviously not fully accepted Turkey’s impositions. That is why the Turkish army cannot take any further steps. The Turkish state does not have enough power for this.

The state and this regime have already collapsed. Its economy and politics have collapsed. It does not have the power to extend its occupation to Gare, Qendil, and Bradost on its own. It lacks military and economic power. No matter how much technology it owns or how many inhumane weapons it uses, they cannot progress. It has been using banned weapons regularly for three to four years now. It is fighting with warplanes and all its technology against the guerrilla, but it can’t yield results. Instead, it is stuck. If Iraq does not offer support and if the peshmerga as a whole does not get involved, it cannot succeed. It does not have that power. That’s why they are now trying very intensely to involve Iraq. The KDP focuses more on the PUK. It is trying to bring them to the line of the KDP. It still hasn’t given up on this. It continues these efforts. But it is not getting the results it wants. Thus, they are unable to put their second plan into practice. With the KDP’s intelligence, logistical support, pioneering, and deployment of forces from here to there, the enemy is trying to develop piecemeal attacks. It is trying to dominate and fortify itself in the places it enters. This is the kind of war that is currently being waged in southern Kurdistan.

We usually always focus on the South, but the war continues in the North as well. Of course, the South is an area where the war is very intense right now. But there is an even more intense war in the North. Without any break, there are continuous operations in every province of northern Kurdistan. Every month, every day, every summer, winter, spring, and fall, there have been non-stop attacks and operations there for years. Dozens of UAVs and UCAVs are in the sky. From fighter jets to helicopters, All kinds of forces, from simple gangs to professional forces, are in constant operation in every province of the north. Indeed, our comrades are developing tremendous resistance there. They show great willpower. I congratulate the guerrillas in the north from the bottom of my heart. It is really great courage, a great commitment, and self-sacrifice that they live. Our comrades resist all these attacks uninterruptedly. At the moment, there are guerrilla forces in all provinces, resisting all kinds of attacks and protecting their positions.

In the same way, the Turkish attacks continue against Rojava. I appreciate the will of our people and military forces there. In these last months, the attacks of the Turkish state against the infrastructure of the people have intensified once more. The Turkish state is attacking living spaces, service centers, and public buildings. All of these are war crimes. The Turkish state wants to change the demography of the places it occupies in Rojava. It provides education in Turkish, appointed governors everywhere in Afrin, Serekaniye, and Gire Spi, and factually occupied and annexed these areas. They are giving special warfare training in Afrin and have even opened a school of special warfare, providing professional training to the mercenaries there. They are waging a genocidal war. There is a resistance against this, but the Turkish state continues. As long as Kurdish denial and extermination continue, these attacks will continue in south, north, east, and west Kurdistan. Wherever Kurds struggle and resist, the Turkish state, which leads the genocidal colonialism, will continue its attacks. But without a doubt, the resistance against this will also continue. We have seen what can be achieved through resistance. It has now put the Turkish state into a process of collapse. This fascist genocidal power is starting to collapse.

The Turkish state continues to sabotage democratic politics in northern Kurdistan and Turkey by appointing trustees to the positions of lawfully elected members of the DEM Party. There has also been a very powerful opposition against this. How do you evaluate the situation?

First of all, I celebrate the stance of our people in the rallies held in Colemerg (tr. Hakkari) and Mersin on the 13th and 14th of this month. Since the appointment of a trustee in Colemerg, our people have been in a position of great resistance everywhere. Especially in Colemerg, there is uninterrupted resistance and struggle. This must continue until results are achieved. This resistance is, of course, not limited to Colemerg. There is a reaction everywhere, it would be incorrect to claim the opposite, but this reaction is insufficient. This attack is not only aimed at Colemerg but also at the Kurdish people as a whole. This is a policy of genocide. The trustee policy should be evaluated in this way.

The trustee policy is part of genocide policies, Kurdish denial, and annihilation policies. The Turkish state does not want the Kurds to have a will anywhere. It does not want the Kurds to govern themselves. What is self-governance? It means to have self-power and to give meaning to your existence. It is a very important level of development in order to ensure existence and freedom. A people that cannot govern itself is doomed to slavery. This is a fact. For hundreds of years, maybe even for thousands of years, the Kurdish people have been enslaved because they have not been able to establish their own self-government because they have not been able to govern themselves. We say Kurdistan is a colony. This is evaluated a lot; they say that the trustee policy is a colonial law, an enemy law. That is correct, but Kurdistan is not just a classical colony. Rêber Apo said that Kurdistan is the colony of a colony. It is not a classical colonial law or policy applied in Kurdistan. A genocidal colonialist policy is being implemented in Kurdistan. In other words, there is a colonialism based on genocide. The Turkish state has occupied and colonized, but it has been systematically practicing genocide in the country it colonized for a hundred years. Cultural genocide, physical genocide, economic genocide, and ecological genocide. In other words, there is a multi-dimensional, multi-faceted genocide in Kurdistan. Therefore, Kurdistan has been turned into a colony of genocide. The slavery of the Kurds is very multidimensional. Self-government gains a great deal of meaning and value at this point. The people who govern themselves gain existence and meaning from their existence. The self-confidence and courage of the people who govern themselves develop. Therefore, society becomes free and gains the power to defend itself. This is liberation.

The Turkish state and the current genocidal, colonialist AKP-MHP regime search to prevent this. That is why it has been appointing trustees to Kurdistan for three terms in a row (in 2016, 2019, and 2024). When the Batman municipality was won by the Kurds, Edip Solmaz was murdered. In the following periods, there were one or two municipalities that were won, all of them were intervened, and the people were dismissed, arrested and tortured. Moreover, municipalities in Turkey do not have much authority. They are all managed from Ankara. There is a very strict centralist system. The Turkish nation state system is a fascist system.

Nevertheless, municipalities provide certain services to the people. It is the house of the people, where people take their problems. They provide convenience, they open some institutions, and at least they can prevent cultural assimilation. They can open cultural institutions. Through them, the genocide of women can be prevented to a certain point. They open women’s institutions, and especially in Kurdistan, there is a system based on equal representation in order to prevent policies of oppression against women. Ecological sensitivity can be developed through them. They carry out some preventive work in terms of migration. In terms of the economy, they provide some services to the people and open areas of service and business. All things that the general state doesn’t want to happen. It wants the Kurdish people to be permanently hungry, poor, helpless, without solutions, permanently beggars, permanently dependent on the state, permanently slaves of the state, serving only the state. It doesn’t want the people to gain consciousness, to gain will, to organize, to govern themselves, or to defend themselves. It is afraid of this. The state is used to ruling Kurds as slaves. In fact, they see this as a necessity for the survival of the Turkish rulers. The trustee policy should definitely be seen in this context. It is part of genocide policies. It is a pillar of political genocide.

Now they are trying to create a perception. They say the DEM Party could have nominated someone with legal problems, why is this not taken into consideration? They are trying to legitimize and naturalize this attack. Is there really anyone left in Kurdistan who has not been investigated, imprisoned, tortured, oppressed, or terrorized? The AKP-MHP regime sees all Kurds as terrorists and enemies. Even if you bring in the cleanest person, the Turkish state will find a crime to frame on them because the Turkish regime is an anti-Kurdish regime, an anti-Kurdish state. Such special war games should not be accepted. Moreover, it is not only Colemerg that is being discussed now. The people do not accept what was done there. They never should. They should definitely continue the resistance in all cities until they take their municipality back. In all northern Kurdistan cities, towns, villages, and metropolises, everywhere. The Kurdish people, the democratic forces, and all those in favor of law, justice, and democracy must react to this. They must stand up and not tolerate this. Obviously, this policy is not limited to Colemerg.

Now they have targeted the municipalities of Amed, Wan, and Siirt. Actually, all municipalities are currently targets. Once it establishes the necessary conditions, it intends to seize each municipality individually. There is such a plan. What should be done to prevent this? The current Colemerg-centered resistance needs to be spread everywhere. Everyone should rise like the people in Colemerg. Amed must stand up and develop uninterrupted resistance. So should Wan, so should Batman, so should Mardin, and all the cities of Kurdistan, the metropolises of Turkey. The millions of Kurds and the democratic forces must put up an uninterrupted resistance and struggle. A really strong response must be given against these genocide policies.

There is a resistance; we celebrate and salute it, but it is limited. It needs to gain momentum and character. This is important. The struggle against the AKP-MHP fascist regime, the guerrilla struggle, the struggle of our people, and the freedom campaign have really defeated the AKP-MHP fascist regime. It was defeated in the face of this resistance. It is currently experiencing very serious problems within itself. The AKP-MHP regime is currently in a very serious crisis. They are trying to cover it up and patch it up. But it is in a very serious conflict. In other words, the fate of the MHP depends on the AKP, and the fate of the AKP depends on the MHP. That is why they cannot break away from each other. They are intertwined within themselves. Our struggle, the struggle of the democratic forces of Turkey, and the glorious resistance and stance of Rêber Apo in Imrali, the resistance that developed around him, defeated the AKP-MHP fascist regime. They were defeated by this resistance. Now they are experiencing a serious dilemma internally. The MHP-AKP alliance has already ended the AKP, turning the AKP into an extension of the MHP. And now the AKP has no credibility or legitimacy in the eyes of society. It has actually fallen from power. It has come to this situation. This alliance has brought the AKP to this state. Now there are AKP supporters who are disturbed by this. “Enough,” they say. They say, “If we carry on this alliance with the MHP any longer, we will become a subordinate party; we will not be able to show any presence,” but they cannot break away. Even if they do, they will become a subordinate party.

Now the AKP is pursuing a tactic like this: it is trying to open space for itself by creating alliances to create legitimacy in society and with the opposition. It is trying to regain its base by doing so. In this, it is also trying to gradually reorganize its relations with the MHP. At the current stage, the AKP is trying to do this without disturbing the MHP and without severing relations because this could lead to very big disasters. The AKP is afraid of this too. The AKP is conducting this, especially through the CHP, trying to design the CHP according to their own interests to make it incapable of opposition. What the AKP means by “softening” and “normalization” is softening the CHP. The CHP did not have a radical opposition anyway. Nevertheless, it came out as the first party in the local elections. So, the AKP knows that should the CHP take a position of radical opposition, the AKP would not be able to recover. There is a great resistance by the Kurdish freedom movement and the democratic forces; if the CHP joins this, the AKP won’t be able to survive. By softening the CHP, the AKP wants to create a ground of legitimacy for itself amongst the CHP’s base and in Turkish society, to design a new politics through it, to recover, and to regain strength and energy. In this sense, there is such an operation on the CHP.

We don’t know how well the opposition within the system evaluates this or whether it is inclined to do so. This is also reflected in state policy. It may also have an international dimension. There may be those who encourage the CHP and others who encourage the AKP. But this politics will not really bring anything to the society and peoples of Turkey.

It is a matter of fact that without a democratic solution to the Kurdish question, Turkey cannot be democratized, it cannot have law, democracy, and justice. This poverty and hunger cannot be overcome. Now they are talking about inflation, there is a serious economic collapse. The crisis stage has been surpassed, and now their economy is at a stage of collapse. What is the reason for this? The genocidal war on the Kurds. The genocidal war on the Kurds is the cause, inflation is the result. This is the truth of the matter. One can never evaluate the problems of justice and law in Turkey separately from this. The genocidal war on the Kurds is the source and cause of all kinds of lawlessness. It is the cause of injustice. The law is not being applied in Imrali. What is the reason for this? It is the Kurdish question. Because Rêber Apo is there as a result of the Kurdish question. He is in Imrali as a cause and consequence. Torture and the isolation system are the results of this. Without overcoming this, how will Turkey ever recover? How will it normalize?

The CHP has had various rallies so far; they went to Rize, held a tea rally, and held a wheat rally. It was the genocidal war on the Kurds that led to the tea crisis in Rize. It was also the genocidal war on the Kurds that caused the wheat crisis among farmers. All of Turkey’s resources are spent on war. Why doesn’t the CHP question the main cause and source of this problem? All of these are results. After the local elections, the CHP should have had a project, a program, for the democratic solution of the Kurdish question. They should have announced such a program. They should have held comprehensive rallies everywhere and disclosed their policies to the public. If it really wants to change this regime and bring law and justice to Turkey, this is the most powerful method of struggle. This is the understanding and style they should develop. This is what would challenge and destroy the AKP-MHP regime the most. Right now, there is no sound on this issue. In this sense, the CHP is pulling society toward liberalism.

In a way, society’s anger has risen in Turkey. Tension has risen against this fascist regime. Kilicdaroglu had barred society from raising their voices on the streets and squares, and instead pointed to ballot boxes every time society had complaints. With the spirit of Yenikapi, the CHP’s former leader Kilicdaroglu only strengthened the AKP-MHP government. Now, if Ozgur Ozel is holding rallies based on the results of the genocidal war on the Kurds to decharge the rising anger of the society, to lower the rising tension, to pacify the society, to legitimize the AKP-MHP fascist regime and to be a partner in its crimes, Ozgur will not be able to put forward a policy different from that of Kilicdaroglu or Deniz Baykal. He will end up like Kilicdaroglu and Deniz Baykal. We need to stand very strongly against this. Especially the democratic forces need to organize very strongly and develop a strong resistance against this fascist regime.

It is the united resistance of the peoples that will overthrow this collapsing, fascist AKP-MHP regime. In this sense, a very important political climate has emerged in Turkey with these local elections. A very strong ground has emerged. There is a very strong ground for organizing a strong movement of democracy across Turkey, for organizing an anti-fascist movement. Now, it is the democratic forces of Kurdistan and Turkey and their united struggle that will organize this ground and this potential. A certain stage has been reached, but this struggle is still not completely united. It is still disorganized and fragmented. In other words, the struggle has not created complete synergy. From that point of view, there is huge potential because the masses are angry and reject this fascist regime. It is necessary to mobilize this potential in an organized manner. It is necessary to unite these energies in a common struggle.

This responsibility falls on the democratic forces: the DEM Party, HDK, and all the others. There are still weaknesses in mobilization and waging a united common struggle. Should these democratic forces unite, if they could put forward the will for a united common struggle, millions would walk with them. They would take to the streets. Millions are ready for this. We have seen this. So what is the problem? There is a problem with leadership, there is a lack of a strong alliance. There is the problem of organizing a common, united struggle and leading society. This problem has still not been overcome. If they can achieve this, they can also put serious pressure on the CHP and prevent the CHP from falling into the traps of this AKP-MHP fascist government. They can prevent the CHP from becoming a partner in these dirty policies. Even if the CHP does not agree with this, a democratic alliance can draw the attention of the CHP base. Because the CHP base is still trying to understand the current policies. It has not yet made sense of it. It is skeptical and very critical. It is trying to understand; it is reacting.

Ecological activism seems to be spreading in and from northern Kurdistan, extending to Turkey too. How do you evaluate the current state of the ecological movement?

The ecology movement is gradually developing in Turkey. There is an ecocide going on in Kurdistan as part of the government’s genocide policies. Extraction sites are dotted around the region. There are hydroelectric power plants, dams, and sand quarries everywhere. The government is destroying the nature of Kurdistan, eliminating ecology, destroying living things, and changing the climate. Now, these same exploitative policies are being introduced in Turkey too.

Resistance is developing among our people in Colemerg and in Dersim around the Munzur waters. Step by step, there is some resistance emerging. In Turkey, there is resistance in Ikizdere, Akbelen, Mount Ida, and Focha. This is developing, but it is piecemeal. If this ecology movement can be turned into a united and strong ecology movement in Kurdistan and Turkey, this ecocide can be prevented to a great extent. This would deal a big blow to fascism and cause great destruction. But these resistances are also fragmented and disorganized. This needs to be overcome quickly. This struggle for ecology is also a struggle for democracy. This is fundamental work that requires and necessitates the organizing of a very comprehensive, joint, and united democratic alliance and movement. The women’s struggle is an example of this. The women’s movement in Kurdistan and Turkey is growing. If we could carry out ecological resistance alongside the antifascist democracy movement, fascism could not survive a day. But there is a lack of leadership in this sense. This obstacle must be overcome quickly.

The month of June is known within your movement as the month of self-sacrifice. How did this develop?

June is the month of ‘fedais’4. I commemorate with respect, love and gratitude all of the martyrs of June and the revolution in general. I especially commemorate comrade Zilan5, Sema6, and Gulan7. Apart from these friends, many other valuable friends were also martyred in June. Especially Hanim Yaverkaya8, one of our first June martyrs, and Raperin Amed9, Berivan Zilan10, Ali Piling11 and Fazil Botan12. Again, many years ago in the month of June ten of our comrades martyred fighting along the Palestinian people, resisting against Israel’s genocidal attacks. At the same time, the martyrdom of commander Abu Leyla13, a member of the Minbij Military Council, also occurred during this month. The martyrdom of Huseyin Cevahir14 from the Turkish Revolutionary Movement is also in June.

June is a month in which many valuable revolutionaries were martyred, be it within the Kurdish freedom movement, the Turkish revolutionary movement, or the Arab revolutionary movement. I commemorate them all with respect, love and gratitude.

Comrade Zilan’s action went beyond a military action. The political, social, and ideological consequences of this action are very important. She carried out her action against the conspiracy targeting Rêber Apo on May 6, 1996, in Damascus. This was the first conspiracy aimed at us. It was aimed at the physical destruction of Rêber Apo. Comrade Zilan put forward an attitude and responded to this conspiracy. This can never be regarded as a mere military action. It is not correct to just say, “She went and did a sacrifice action, and so many soldiers died.” Conducting such an action in a place like Dersim caused great military trauma to the enemy. Yes, it caused defeat for the Turkish army, but this is not the entire picture.

Comrade Zilan is a woman who represents freedom. In this sense, the message she gave to her enemies and the attitude she showed were very meaningful. Comrade Zilan understood what Rêber Apo meant for the Kurdish people, for women, and for humanity as a whole. She revealed this in her action. After her action, the enemy never dared to attack Damascus again. She struck fear into the heart and mind of the Turkish state and demonstrated a very strong power of meaning by better understanding and comprehending the reality of Rêber Apo. She revealed and developed unmatched ideological power. Rêber Apo always regards comrade Zilan as a manifesto of freedom. He always said, “Zilan is the line of victory in war and the line of free women in life.” Comrade Zilan is really a personality with such qualities. She paved the way for the further development of the guerrilla. She paved the way for the new tactic and mentality of fedai in the guerrilla.

This action had multidimensional, significant consequences, and of course, the impact it had on women was huge. Comrade Zilan rejected the traditional woman, the traditional society, and the traditional family. In fact, she took a big stand against the reality of the enslaved woman and the dominant man and struck a blow to this reality. This led to a very strong change, transformation, and questioning in both women and society. We know that the current structure of the family is a male-dominated family. It is based on the domination of the man and the slavery of the woman. Therefore, it swallows and freezes the energy of both men and women. It destroys their dignity, devalues them, and objectifies them. In such a relationship between men and women and in such a family structure, there is no freedom. The current structure of the family is a male-dominated, sexist family based on materialistic understandings that essentially appropriates the woman and the child. It is this family reality, this family culture, that constitutes society. The nation-state system and all state power systems feed on this family reality. In fact, the family is the prototype, the nucleus of the state. Power feeds the state system: just as women and children are the property of men in the family, society has become the property of the state power system. Just as the woman in the family are the slave of the man, society has become the slave of the ruling state. In other words, the family constantly produces slavery. It produces dependent relationships and develops slavery. The family has been designed to be one hundred percent dependent on men. Can a woman who is dependent on a man, who is a slave, be free? Can a woman who is not free, live free or equal with a man? Can that family be a free, equal family, a democratic family? Is it possible? Never. The reality of the existing family is one of terrible disrespect, lack of love and worthlessness towards women.

Comrade Zilan was also married. She rejected that relationship. She realized that in such a relationship, there is sole dependency and possessiveness. She realized that it was a slave-sovereign relationship, an enslaving relationship; she rejected it. Now, of course, there are thousands of Zilans who struggle along this line. But comrade Zilan raised the standards of free life, free society, democratic families, free men, and free women. She became a line. She became a line of freedom, a manifesto of freedom. This is very meaningful. The women’s liberation struggle gained great momentum on the axis of this line. After Zilan’s action, Rêber Apo’s analysis of women’s freedom deepened a lot. Compare Rêber Apo’s analysis of women in 1998 and after. Look at his analysis of men, his analysis of the family and society, and his analysis of the state; it has become very deep. Intellectually, ideologically, and philosophically, Zilan also fed Rêber Apo and the women’s liberation struggle. Now, the Kurdish women’s movement is the strongest movement in Turkey, Kurdistan, the Middle East, and even the world. Today, it ideologically leads the world’s women’s movement. The ideology of freedom deepens alongside the reality of Rêber Apo, which developed through the sacrifice of such comrades. It developed with the women’s reality and struggle.

Now the AKP-MHP fascist government is targeting the women’s movement tremendously. Because it is the strongest movement in Kurdistan and in Turkey. It is the strongest resistance movement. It feeds society, changes it, and transforms it. It mobilizes society. It is the main pioneering force. It is the force that challenges this fascist regime the most. So what does the state do? It attacks the women’s movement in many dimensions. Here in Kurdistan, it is attacking as part of its genocide attacks. For example, one of the main things targeted through the appointment of trustees is the co-presidency system. They don’t want the system of equal representation to be institutionalized and cultivated. Because this will lead to the creation of a new society, a free, democratic society based on the freedom and equality of men and women. The state cannot tolerate the co-presidency system in politics, so they attack and throw the co-chairs in jail. Right now, the prisons in Turkey are full of female revolutionaries, female politicians, and female activists. The state attacks everywhere. Drugs, rape, and prostitution are special war attacks against women’s liberation in order to regress and degenerate the women’s freedom movement. All of this is violence against women; policies are developed consciously and systematically to break the will of women, to subjugate women, to create an enslaved society, to make women unable to struggle, and to intimidate them.

Some people chant the slogan, “Violence against women is political.” This is very narrow. Violence against women is not only political; violence against women is mainly ideological. It is political because it is ideological. It is based on an idea; it is based on male-dominated thought and tradition. Violence against women is based on five thousand years of male-dominated rape tradition. The state takes practical steps according to this ideology through politics. This policy is based on an ideology, an idea, and five thousand years of male-dominated culture and sexist tradition. The other day, I was watching TV. In some schools, some teachers and imams raped children. There were some protests against this where people raised a banner saying, “Child abuse is political.” What abuse? Why are you softening it? How could one’s approach to rape be so liberal? Why are they legitimizing it with this expression? It is rape. It is the massacre of a child. This regime really wants to create an enslaved society. This has been its aim and goal from the beginning. The state wants to create an enslaved society. What does it take to realize this goal? It targets women. It wants to weaken the women’s liberation movement. The state knows that they do not have the power to eliminate the woman completely, so they try to weaken her, break her will, and intimidate her. That is why the state is carrying out an attack in many dimensions. One dimension is rape, violence, prostitution, and drugs. Another dimension is economic destruction. Women are massively unemployed, are almost condemned to domestic labor at home, are enslaved, their labor is not valued, and they are put into a condition where they are economically unable to manage themselves. Their arms and wings are broken, and they are disempowered. The state is doing the same thing in the field of education. Now they have come up with an education curriculum that is completely misogynistic and really anti-social. A curriculum that is hostile to beliefs is monist, religious, and racist. It wants to shape future generations in this way by changing their mentality with an education system according to this ideology.

A group of young female students were not allowed to attend their own graduation ceremony on the grounds of their attire. It’s an attack that is branching out like this. It is a policy of feminicide. There is psychological violence everywhere. They humiliate the woman, belittle her, and make her feel worthless all the time. It is on the news 24 hours a day. Whether she is a well-known writer, journalist, or politician, you look closer and see that she is enduring violence at home. Whether she is a famous artist or a politician, she endures violence at home. They are subjected to violence from their husbands and lovers; they are murdered.

This fascist government, the AKP-MHP fascist government, has carried out a policy that has intensified sexist tradition the most and increased violence against women tenfold. It is already impossible for them to get results from this. The women’s freedom movement is developing everywhere, but it needs to gain more strength. One by one, we need to hold the male state and the dominant male to account for their crimes. Women are strong enough to do this.


1 Referring to Kurdish peoples leader Abdullah Ocalan.

2 By international conspiracy she 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 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.

4 ‘Fedai’ is a word of Arabic origin and is used to honour people who have carried out ultimate actions of selflessness (‘self-sacrifice’ or ‘self-imolation’) in belief of greater cause.

5 Zeyneb Kinaci (nom de guerre: Zîlan) is one of the most best known militants of the Kurdish women’s movement. At a time when the Kurdish women’s movement was under massive attack, the then 23-year-old took the initiative and carried out an action in Dersim (tr. Tunceli). She detonated a bomb in a military parade, killing and injuring several soldiers. Zeyneb Kinaci also lost her life on this June 30, 1996.

6 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-immolation actions of many political prisoners in Turkish prisons. She succumbed to her burn injuries on June 17, 1998.

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 murdered in Qendîl on the sidelines of a congress by collaborationist forces who wanted to weaken the role of women in the Kurdish freedom movement.

8 Hanim Yaverkayas (nome de guerre: Berivan) was a leading Kurdish female militant. She was the first female guerrilla commander to command an all-male unit. She was killed in a battle with the Turkish army in Botan in 1985.

9 Delal Azizoglu (nome de guerre: Raperin Amed) was a long-time pioneer of the Kurdish women’s liberation movement. On June 17, 2022, she was killed in a Turkish airstrike in the Medya Defense Zones.

10 Berivan Zilan was a long-standing leading Kurdish militant and member of the PAJK coordination. She was killed in a Turkish airstrike on the Medya Defense Zones on June 17, 2022.

11 Serif Yakut (nome de guerre: Ali Piling) was a guerrilla commander with almost thirty years of combat experience. He was killed in a battle with the Turkish army in Bedlîs (tr. Bitlis) on June 14, 2019.

12 Fazil Botan was a long-time guerrilla commander, also member of the HPG military council, and led the fight against ISIS in Rojava. In 2015, he was seriously injured in an accident, which is why he went to France for treatment, where he finally succumbed to his injuries on June 15, 2022.

13 Faisal Abdi Bilal Saadoun (nome de guerre: Abu Leyla) was a co-founder of the Minbij Military Council and a leading commander in the fight against ISIS. On June 3, 2016 – two days after the start of the liberation offensive at the Tischrin Dam – he was seriously injured in an artillery attack. He succumbed to his injuries the same day in a hospital in Sulaymaniyah.

14 Huseyin Cevahir war ein Anführer der türkischen Linken. Er fiel in einem Gefecht mit der türkischen Polizei am 01. Juni 1971 in Istanbul.