our interviews

february 27, 2024

Under the title “Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan, a Political Solution to the Kurdish Question,” the global freedom campaign got underway on October 10, 2023, and it reached millions of people throughout the four regions of Kurdistan and the rest of the world. The whole population of Rojava arose, and freedom marches were held throughout Northern Kurdistan1. On February 17, 2024, hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Cologne for the historic rally. What kinds of successes were attained during this procedure, and what did they demonstrate? Was it insufficient?

February is the month of the international conspiracy2. I want to start by denouncing and condemning the forces behind the conspiracy. Again, countless friends and patriots formed a strong opposition and performed self-sacrifice acts in response to the global conspiracy. For the past twenty-five years, there has been an incredible opposition. I commemorate all the martyrs that fell in the struggle for freedom and the revolution with respect, love and gratitude. For 25 years, Rêber Apo3 has been developing a great resistance and struggle under the torture and genocide regime of Imrali. He has waged this struggle in the name of free Kurdishness. However, Rêber Apo’s struggle is not limited to the Kurdish struggle for independence; Rêber Apo is also resisting the Imrali torture and genocide regime on behalf of women. He resists on behalf of societies; he resists on behalf of humanity. In this sense, the struggle that Rêber Apo is developing, the resistance he is living, is a great human resistance. It is the single greatest resistance for freedom.

This has been an ongoing, 25-year struggle that keeps getting deeper and greater with time. Under the kind of torture and tyranny that Rêber Apo endures, no leader has ever been able to accomplish such a profound concentration and deepening of intellectual, theoretical, philosophical, ideological, structural, and organizational knowledge. This is the source of his strength and his source of reality. He was able to put this into writing and communicate it to history and the rest of humanity. It is unprecedented in the history of the world for someone to experience such a deepening on behalf of the Kurdish people, on behalf of the peoples of the Middle East, on behalf of humanity, and on behalf of women, and to turn it into a five-volume paradigm change that is accessible to all of humanity in a place like Imrali, where torture, genocide, fascism, genocidal warfare, and special psychological warfare are waged at every level and in every dimension.

There has never been resistance like this in history. Under such circumstances, it is unheard of to maintain a will so powerful, consciousness so sharp, moral drive so strong, and the capacity of meaning continuously expanding and deepening to such an extent. This is indeed a superhuman will, a superhuman resistance stance. Undoubtedly, this stems from the reality of Rêber Apo, from his power of meaning, and from his high passion for the freedom struggle. Rêber Apo developed his five volumes of prison writings under those conditions. These five volumes of prison writings are about the defense of the Kurdish people, the peoples of the Middle East, and humanity. Rêber Apo created and presented the democratic, ecological, women’s libertarian paradigm, the paradigm of ‘Democratic Nation’ and ‘Democratic Confederalism’ to society under the conditions of torture, genocide, and the attacks on Imrali. This work, struggle, opposition, and stance are genuinely indescribable.

On the basis of this viewpoint and the resistance that Rêber Apo created on Imrali, a great struggle has been ongoing for 25 years. The “You cannot darken our sun” campaign was the beginning of it, and it hasn’t stopped until this day. In Kurdistan and beyond, our people fought a brave and difficult struggle all over the globe. The free Kurdish guerrilla forces have developed a great resistance and follow a sacrificial philosophy without interruption, and this resistance is reaching its peak. It is a resistance at its peak in the centers of Zap, Avashîn and Metîna4. Around this resistance, our people from Rojava have put forward a great revolution that has deeply affected the Middle East, the whole world, and humanity, shaken capitalist modernity to its foundations, and inspired humanity. They gave tens of thousands of martyrs and paid a great price for it. This resistance spread with the same mentality. It has a great impact on women and on the whole Middle Eastern society. It affected global society tremendously and led to a serious democratic transformation. It led to a transformation of mentality in society. It led to a revolution of conscience.

So, to answer the question of what has been accomplished and what the outcome of these twenty-five years has been, we can state that the revolution was made possible by the resistance that Rêber Apo presented, the struggle that he formulated, and the paradigm of Democratic Nation and Democratic Conferderalism that he established. The Kurdish people achieved the Democratic Nation revolution under the direction of Rêber Apo, the Kurdish freedom fighters, and the Kurdish Freedom Movement. It had an impact on humanity and sent all the Middle Eastern peoples through a profound transformation. This is a great accomplishment. The ‘Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan, a Political Solution to the Kurdish Question’ campaign, which was started on October 10, 2023, continued to grow and spread. It began under the direction of our international friends and evolved under the direction of worldwide socialists, democrats, and revolutionaries. Actually, after 25 years of uninterrupted resistance, this is the beginning of the next phase.

Following the North Kurdistan Freedom March and the large-scale Cologne March on February 17, an international group traveled to Turkey a few days ago to confront the global threat posed by Imrali. There were delegations that went before that. They held many meetings in Turkey. The entire body of work produced by these international friends, as well as by democratic, revolutionary, socialist, conscientious, libertarian, and individual circles, is a culmination of the continuous 25-year battle centered around Rêber Apo’s stance and resistance. They go hand in hand.

In this sense, I salute Rêber Apo’s resistance with respect and love. I salute this great internationalized, universalized, globalized resistance for freedom, equality, and democracy, which has been developing for 25 years on the axis of this resistance, which has been going on continuously and is about to reach its peak. I also salute everyone who is giving their all to the ongoing campaign, including the participants in the Freedom Marches in North Kurdistan and Turkey, the Cologne rally in Europe, and others. I’d like to use this opportunity to express my gratitude to everyone who is striving and working toward this goal. What has this process achieved? As I said, the 25-year struggle has become globalized.

In this sense, the paradigm of the Democratic Nation has transcended Kurdistan. It has become regionalized and universalized. In other words, it became a part of Middle Eastern society, as well as the global community. Around Rêber Apo’s paradigm of Democratic Nation and Democratic Confederalism, a large number of philosophers, academics, writers, artists, politicians, environmentalists, feminists, and other resilient, resisting, and struggle-oriented members of society are currently fighting in great solidarity and unity with the Kurds. They are gathering under the leadership of Rêber Apo, participating in the march for freedom. Rêber Apo is marching for freedom in the name of humanity. This is a very concrete demonstration of the level of universalization of the freedom march that is reaching its peak and entered a new stage on October 10.

The success of the leadership paradigm is demonstrated by the fact that prominent philosophers and intellectuals who have dedicated their lives to furthering humankind and spent a great deal of intellectual energy proclaim that Rêber Apo is their leader, that the Kurds’ struggle is their struggle, and that Rêber Apo’s march for freedom is their march for freedom. A quarter of a century of unbroken struggle around Rêber Apo demonstrates his power and accomplishments. This is a success, a great success. It is incorrect to distinguish the October 10 process from the 25 years of unbroken struggle and opposition. This is a new chapter in its history. It demonstrates the degree to which the fight has become more universal and worldwide and, thus, the degree to which the Democratic Nation and Democratic Confederalism paradigms have been successful and accepted. Naturally, this is a huge success.

The isolation of Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan is not personal and affects the lives of everyone, and therefore it seems to have become clearer in this process how concrete and true the slogan “Abdullah Öcalan’s freedom is my freedom too” is. The demand for the physical freedom of Öcalan has gained global character and dimension. What is the significance of this development, both in terms of his freedom and his becoming a global leadership and in terms of the future of Kurdistan? The paradigm that Rêber Apo has developed is what distinguishes him as a global leader. In this way, Rêber Apo has brought about a very significant revolution and created a serious breakthrough in the socialist thought and socialist ideology that has persisted to this day. What was that? This ideology, or socialist philosophy, had an influence on the PKK when it was first formed. The solution to the Kurdish question was seen in a socialist Kurdish state. All socialist movements saw the solution to the self-determination of nations in a socialist nation-state. It also saw the solution to the problems of humanity in a social system that is actually not far from the state or from power. But did this really bring a solution for humanity?

Marx, Lenin, and Engels are great leaders. They are the masters of socialism, they have really been a great source of inspiration for all resistance, for all humanity. They influenced the people’s resistance, class struggle, and gender struggle in a positive way. In this sense, they are undoubtedly great leaders. But the solution they developed did not go much beyond class and state understanding. They interpreted socialism on the basis of their understanding of the power state. This mentality could not be overcome. In this sense, Rêber Apo made a great revolution. He broke the deadlock that all socialist movements were in. He overcame real socialism. He developed the theory, philosophy, ideology, and social system of Democratic Socialism. An understanding of socialism free from power and the state, an understanding of social solutions based on the organization of the democratic communal, Democratic Confederal system; an understanding of social liberation based on the unity, equality, freedom, and coexistence of people; and an understanding of social liberation that puts women’s freedom at its center. This is a new paradigm. This is a truly libertarian paradigm. It’s an ecological and democratic paradigm in the true sense. A social life and a social structure that are removed from the state and power, rejecting nationalism and female enslavement. It opposes both religionism and scientism. It disapproves of violence, war, occupation, oppression in all its manifestations, and colonialism. Only with this mindset and comprehension can true freedom be arranged and established, together with a democratic, free system.

Rêber Apo put forward the philosophy, ideology, theoretical framework, practical application, implementation methods, and duties of this system. He defined the body of the system based on this understanding as a whole. He also laid out the method of organizing it. Therefore, when we consider Rêber Apo in this framework, of course he is the socialist leader of the twenty-first century and the centuries to come, of history. He is not only the leader of the Kurds. He is the leader of all groups and humanity who believe in socialism, who believe in democracy, freedom, and equality, who believe in women’s freedom, who believe in the freedom of nature, and who believe in the interrelationship between humans and nature. Rêber Apo defends this. He is not only defending it in a general sense. With tremendous intellectual labor, under the regime of torture and genocide on Imrali, Rêber Apo has brought out this paradigm.

Therefore, on behalf of all oppressed classes, on behalf of working people, on behalf of all oppressed peoples, on behalf of women, and on behalf of all environmental and ecological groups, Rêber Apo is, of course, a leader of freedom. As these ideas and thoughts of Rêber Apo spread, as they are recognized, a great acceptance develops, people say: “Yes, this is what we are fighting for”. Today our friends always give examples, like for example, Mr. Zizek, but not only him, hundreds of philosophers, intellectuals, artists, politicians, socialists, environmentalists, feminists, as they get to know Rêber Apo, they say that “Yes, this is what we are fighting for. Rêber Apo fights for the same values we fight for and defend. That is why Rêber Apo is resisting on Imrali. Embracing the freedom of Rêber Apo, fighting for his physical freedom is also our own struggle for freedom”. In this sense, Rêber Apo has become a universal leader. The impact of bringing the paradigm to the global society, to all segments, will be very, very great. As the paradigm spreads, as the ideas of Rêber Apo become known, global participation in the struggle for freedom will reach gigantic proportions.

In this respect, we need to continue this struggle with great excitement, enthusiasm, real assertiveness and faith.

You state that the freedom movement has reached a new stage with the Cologne march. What is this stage? How will this campaign be developed from now on? The freedom campaign that has been developing since October 10 is a very important stage of the 25-year struggle. There have been many evaluations that it is a second stage after the Cologne march in terms of the next process.

This campaign will continue to grow internationally under the leadership of our international friends, under the leadership of international friendly circles. As far as we know, there are very important plans being made, showing that these efforts will continue. In this second phase, the campaign will continue to grow. It will be socialized and massified. The perfect environment for the coming period is already getting prepared.

March 8 is in the near future. On March 8, I believe that the women will show a very strong participation in this campaign. Women have seen and know this now. Many feminist circles embrace and struggle for the freedom of Rêber Apo. Rêber Apo’s resistance is women’s resistance for freedom. Rêber Apo’s struggle of 50-years for women’s liberation, the efforts he has put forth, intellectually, theoretically, ideologically, philosophically, and practically, are efforts that no other socialist leader in history has put forth. Rêber Apo confronted the male-dominated system, the capitalist modernist system, and the hegemonic system. He waged a great struggle. He paved the way for women in every aspect, gave them consciousness. He developed a great enlightenment in women. This level of development and emancipation in Kurdish women affected the women of the region and the women of the world. It has created a serious transformation in society, a democratic transformation. This is really important. I believe that women will develop massive and great participation in this campaign throughout the whole month of March. Because the freedom of Rêber Apo is the freedom of women. There will be strong participation with this understanding.

Afterwards is Newroz5. There will be mass participation in Newroz. In Kurdistan, there will be mass participation in the magnificent Freedom March and freedom campaign. The next big day is April 4. It is the birthday of Rêber Apo, and therefore the birthday of the Kurds, the birthday of humanity. This will also be massively welcomed and celebrated. Moreover, May 1st is the day of resistance among workers and laborers. It is a day of struggle. There is a universal aspect to the leadership. Rêber Apo is the leader of the workers and laborers. He resists and struggles on behalf of all the oppressed. 50 years of struggle have been filled with this. The paradigm he has put forward also expresses this as a whole.

The system of Democratic Confederalism is the expression of the whole. Therefore, a great mass mobilization will emerge with the second phase, and in this regard, I call on all the women, the Kurdish people, and all our international friends to participate and lead this second phase in a very strong way. Under the leadership of women, youth, Kurds and our international friends everywhere, we must continue this march for freedom by universalizing and globalizing it. This process creates the environment and climate for this in every aspect.

Another dimension is that we must wage a very strong legal struggle in this second phase. There is a genocide attack ongoing in Imrali. A genocide regime has been implemented in Imrali. Genocide is a crime against humanity. In an international system that is currently under the control of the conspiratorial forces, the Imrali system and the Council of Europe are also responsible for this. America, England, and Israel, who are at the head of the conspiracy, are also responsible for this. All these conspiratorial forces are also responsible for this. The Turkish state has implemented a genocide regime in this international Imrali system. It is waging a genocidal war on Imrali. Therefore, it is committing a crime of genocide. The genocidal war in Imrali has spread to all of Kurdistan and has turned into genocide against all Kurds. The 100-year genocide policy on Kurds has now spread to the whole of Kurdistan, with its center being Imrali.

There is an intense pressure on society in Turkey in the form of fascism. We must wage a very serious political, legal and diplomatic struggle against this crime against humanity. We must expose all these states and powers that act in the name of law but do not respect their own law in any way, that violate the law for their own economic and political interests. We must unmask them in every aspect. We must expose the Turkish state. We must create a very serious international pressure on the Turkish state. We must create public pressure. In this sense, we need to carry out the second phase of the campaign very strongly.

What gives the campaign for ‘solution to the Kurdish question and the physical freedom of Rêber Apo’ the most serious potential is the result and power created by the spread of Rêber Apo’s paradigm. Seeing this in a better light, we should develop the work of spreading the ideas and paradigm of the Rêber Apo in a multifaceted way everywhere. We must put forward this struggle with an effort ten times greater than the effort made so far.

The resistance of Abdullah Öcalan on Imrali and the resistance of the Freedom Movement, the people, youth, women, and international friends of the Kurdish people has entered it’s 26th year. What should be done in the 26th year? Who has what kind of duties? How can a more powerful, effective and result-oriented style of administration and struggle be developed?

The struggle that our people have been waging for 25 years on the axis of the resistance and paradigm of the leadership has now become an international struggle. The Kurdish question has become a regional and global question. This situation has emerged as a result of the struggle of the Kurdish people, the Kurdish Freedom Movement, and its international friends. This is an important achievement, a very important result. It is now such that this consciousness is developing in the Kurdish people, in society, in communities and circles outside the Kurdish people.

The freedom of the Kurdish people and the freedom of Rêber Apo are completely intertwined. This has always been like this from the beginning. Our 50 years of struggle was always like this. But for the first time this consciousness is being gained at this level, at an advanced level. This is being realized. This is being brought to consciousness. This is a very important thing. Therefore, the Kurdish people now say, “If Rêber Apo is free, I will be free. If Rêber Apo is free, there will be a status in Kurdistan. Kurds will gain their political and democratic rights.” The consciousness and realization of this are now deeply developed in the Kurdish people. This is very important. They see their existence and freedom in the freedom of Rêber Apo and they struggle on this basis. We need to deepen this consciousness even more and carry out the struggle on this basis, the struggle for freedom, on the basis that the freedom of Rêber Apo is the freedom of the Kurdish people, the freedom of Kurdistan, in a very comprehensive manner, with a great claim and determination in 2024 and in the years to come.

Again, as I mentioned, many circles outside the Kurds define Rêber Apo’s freedom as their own freedom. They say that Rêber Apo must be liberated to prevent ecological destruction. They say that Rêber Apo must be liberated in order to prevent sexism and the genocide of women. Women’s movements and progressive humanity say that if society is to be liberated, Rêber Apo must be liberated. He is considered a universal leader. He is considered as the leader of this struggle.

In the same way, the struggle for ecology, the struggle for women’s freedom, and the struggle for all oppressed sections of the working class must continue in a very strong manner. This has reached a very important stage. We are closer to the physical freedom of Rêber Apo than ever before. Therefore, the freedom of the Kurdish people is closer than ever. But the attacks are also fierce. There are nationalist, religionist, reactionary, sexist, fascist, multidimensional, and multifaceted attacks against Rêber Apo’s paradigm. There are still some real socialist sectors that resist Rêber Apo’s paradigm. They are also under attack. There is a multifaceted counter-struggle, that is, an attack against the paradigm of Rêber Apo and the reality of the leadership.

The struggle developed by our people and the guerrilla has always frustrated the international conspiracy. The torture and genocide regime in Imrali is also a continuation of the conspiracy. But this conspiracy has always been frustrated by the struggle. The physical extermination of Rêber Apo, the liquidation of the Kurdish freedom movement, and the finalization of the Kurdish genocide were also frustrated by this 50 and 25 years of uninterrupted struggle.

Today, in the 26th year of the Imrali resistance, Rêber Apo has become a universal leader. The paradigm of the Rêber Apo, the universalization of the paradigm of the Democratic Nation, has developed great international acceptance. This is a success; this is a victory. We need to take this to a conclusion with great faith, determination, and an understanding of struggle and resistance. The way to success is struggle, struggle, struggle. The way to success is organized and united resistance, and organized and united struggle. So far, the struggle has proven this. In a way, the struggle so far proves and confirms the future.

In this sense, I wish success to our people, our international friends, and all revolutionary, democratic, left, socialist, ecological, feminist, worker, and laborer groups who are struggling and resisting. Any struggle on the axis of Rêber Apo will definitely lead all these groups to freedom. This struggle process has revealed this very clearly.



Footnotes added by the translator:

1 Southeastern Turkey according to the borders of the nation-state.

2 This refers to the international complot against Abdullah Öcalan, which was initiated on October 9, 1998 and culminated on February 15, 1999 when Öcalan was unlawfully kidnapped to Turkey, where he has since been held on the prison island of Imrali in the Sea of Marmara.

3 Referring to the Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan.

4 Three areas on the border between North and South Kurdistan (or, according to the statist system, the border between Turkey and Iraq). They are part of the ‚Medya Defense Zones’, areas that are under the control of the guerrilla forces.

5 Newroz is a historically and culturally important festival in the Middle East. It is traditionally celebrated around March 21 and marks the beginning of the new year. In the Kurdish tradition in particular, the Newroz festival is closely associated with society’s resistance against oppression. Numerous myths swirl around the fest.