our interviews

may 16, 2024

The campaign for the freedom of the leader of the Kurdish people, Abdullah Ocalan, is causing pressure on the institutions responsible for the isolation being imposed on Imrali island prison. Over the recent days, the ‘European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment’ (CPT) stated that they do not have the authority to disclose information in regards to the conditions on the prison island without the permission of the Turkish state. What can you say in this regard?

First of all, I salute the historic Imrali resistance and Rêber Apo1 with respect. Within the scope of the global campaign for his physical freedom and the democratic solution of the Kurdish question, actions have been taken against the Imrali system of torture, isolation and genocide. There are mass actions in all fields. The most noteworthy development was the letter sent by external circles to the CPT as kind of a warning. Many intellectuals, trade unionists, artists, and politicians united to issue this warning; this is important. It was a warning.

Nevertheless, the isolation system is unchanged. Some statements were released, in relation to this. In some ways, the CPT report was a confession and it was really incomprehensible. According to the statements made by the CPT, the message to be deducted is that the CPT is but an executive organ under the Council of Europe, under the states. They said “we report to them. We disclose reports only if the states give permission, if they don’t, we don’t.” They confessed that they don’t even have any power and authority.

In this framework, the CPT has been reduced to an institution, a subordinate, of the AKP-MHP government. They cannot even disclose a report. As such, it is meaningless to call this institution the ‘Committee for the Prevention of Torture’. The states are the perpetrators of torture. Surely the CPT was not built to prevent torturers amongst society because the power is in the hands of the states, not society. An institution which plays the role of an officer of these states and their administrations, cannot prevent the torture of these states. All they are capable of is concealing the perpetrated crimes.

In this sense, it would be more appropriate to call the CPT ‘Committee to conceal torture’. Various lawyers, especially Asrin Law Office, have released statements explaining that the CPT does have the authority to disclose reports. They also explained that the CPT has indeed much power which they are choosing not to use in the case of Imrali, the case of Rêber Apo and the Kurds. The CPT has taken the side of the executive, it has taken the side of power. Therefore, it acts in favor of torture.

What the lawyers and jurists are claiming makes more sense. When we look at the title given to this committee, it only makes sense that they would have the power to release information in regards to the torture being inflicted in prisons. The CPT has used its power in various matters in the past. Yet, they refuse to use this power to prevent the torture on Imrali because this might benefit Rêber Apo. The CPT said that “the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) was going to disclose information, but they didn’t”. This may be true, because the ECHR took a decision for the retrial of Rêber Apo ten or so years ago, but it did not implement or follow up on its decision. It has been twenty-five years; the ECHR has not done anything. The ECHR is under the command of politics and receives instructions. This situation has nothing to do with laws, these institutions are under the control of the states.

What is the relation between the CPT and the ECHR? Would the ECHR have acted differently if the CPT had taken the initiative? There is actually a collusion here. The Council of Europe, the Turkish government, the ECHR, the CPT, all of the member states of NATO and the European Union, and even the UN are in fact complicit in this conspiracy. This extends to various, relevant institutions. The executive bodies are designing a policy around these fabricated disciplinary penalties.

They prevented Rêber Apo from being retrialed after the twenty-five-year detainment period so he does not regain his physical freedom. They prevented and nullified the ECHR’s decision of retrial. There is a complicity here, a common opinion. If this was not the case, Tayyip Erdogan’s Minister of Justice would not have spoken so recklessly. He would not have been able to show such an insulting attitude, mocking the whole of humanity, the whole world. Very blatantly, he said that there is “no isolation in Imrali, everything is working perfectly.” This is because he knows that he is untouchable and that he will not be opposed. That is the only way to evaluate his remarks.

Recently, they issued another one of their fabricated disciplinary punishments; another three months. Our lawyers are disclosing that this policy is being conducted to prevent meetings with Rêber Apo. Yes, this may be one aspect, but this is not the entire picture. We always drew attention to something: the Turkish state is not only doing this to prevent meetings, but also to prevent the ECHR’s decision for a retrial. It should be known, that the Turkish state is doing this to prevent the exercise of the right to retrial after twenty-five years. The CPT, the ECHR, the Council of Europe, the institutions of the Turkish Republic came together, they thought about how to frustrate this opportunity of retrial, and they found disciplinary sanctions as a guise. Turkey is taking the lead in this. The Turkish state says that this is “the decision of our legal institutions, the courts there”. They are trying to portray Rêber Apo as an undisciplined detainee, to say that a retrial is unnecessary. It is obvious that any retrial will analyze an evaluation of the person’s attitude in prison. They portray Rêber Apo in the most negative light. European law is the law of formality, it does not need to perform according to the principles it sets out to safeguard. All it does is tick boxes; it doesn’t deal with the substance of the matter. So, they prevented Rêber Apo’s retrial.

I myself was in prison for six years. I am not a lawyer, but I didn’t just lie around for those years. I studied the European juridical system a bit. In Europe, a life sentence is fifteen years. The heaviest sentence is always retrialed after twenty-five years. European law is applicable to Imrali, as is the Turkish law, but the Imrali system is a system which was organized by the Council of Europe and the CPT. Rêber Apo said, “When I arrived, the CPT greeted me.” Therefore, according to European law, a retrial was absolutely necessary in the twenty-fifth year of detainment. They made up these disciplinary penalties to prevent retrial and they did prevent it. We need to see this.

Should these institutions function as they claim, it would not matter that the Turkish Republic argues a retrial is unnecessary. They prevented the retrial under a legal pretext. What did Rêber Apo say in the short phone conversation with his brother on March 25, 2021? He said, “why aren’t my lawyers coming?” He said, “You are all guilty in this situation.” Now, we are all complicit. What crime have we committed? We committed the crime of not understanding the situation. When he spoke to his brother, Rêber Apo said “Why am I speaking to you and not to my lawyers?” He wanted to speak to his lawyers, because he was aware of the situation. He was aware of the trickery attempted by the Turkish Republic. He was going to take the initiative, through his lawyers, to wage a legal struggle against this conspiracy. By preventing Rêber Apo from seeing his lawyers, by having those fascist, Kurdish-hating courts hand down fabricated disciplinary penalties, they suited a guise for their own laws. In this way, they prevented and frustrated Rêber Apo’s legal struggle. This must be seen.

In this sense, both those who perpetrated this plot and those who failed to prevent it, are guilty. If they prevented Rêber Apo from waging a struggle, then this is because our struggle was insufficient. Our struggle was not enough to break these tricks and plots. In other words, we could not free ourselves from guilt. This is how we should evaluate the situation, and it includes all of us. Because we didn’t see these tricks in time and didn’t work to disrupt them. What we did was not enough. Yes, there is a certain struggle, there are actions, we are making moves, but these are not enough. So first we need to evaluate this situation. We must see our inadequacies. We must see where we are in Rêber Apo’s definition of guilt. We need to take a self-critical approach to understand the situation and get out of this inadequate position.

Yes, there are protests now, the struggle continues. We salute the protesters everywhere. Both abroad and in the four parts of Kurdistan, the people are rising up; women are rising, our mothers are rising. The demand for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo is spreading all over the world. These are developments. But this is not enough to break the games or to yield serious results because the opposition is cheating, they cheated blatantly. And then they want to normalize our current situation. This time, we will say “we will not get used to it.”

There is a new talk about the resistance being conducted in the prisons. We hear that the prisons are resisting, and we support them. The prison resistances are adopting a more correct approach because they are saying “we will not get used to this, we will not be a partner in this crime.” The prisons are rejecting the incentives of the state because they understand that this is unfair, and that this is a game. The prisons are questioning why they are being treated differently to Rêber Apo. They understand that these incentives are but a method of distracting revolutionaries. They understand that the state is aiming to draw them away from Rêber Apo, to isolate him more. These people have joined Rêber Apo, they will follow his path. They said that they were “breaking all ties with the state.” I don’t know how much they are doing, how conscious they are, but this is the new line of action and it is suits reality better. What does Rêber Apo say? He says, “look at Imrali and see the reality of the Kurds.” Everyone who aspires to be a free Kurd will understand how they should be when they look at Imrali. The comrades in the prisons are working on cutting their ties with the state and said that they will live by the standards of Rêber Apo; those who say they support the prisons, should take the same stance against the state.

We need to evaluate the current actions. We really need to see our inadequacies and fix these. We are in a critical stage; it must be taken seriously. In this way, it is necessary to evaluate the situation of the retrial of the Rêber Apo, every year. In order to prevent this retrial, they constantly issue disciplinary punishments, they will always issue fabricated punishments. They have taken this as a principle and will continue to do so. If this situation is not overcome, they will aim to gradually get everyone used to the absence of Rêber APo. They will keep on stalling off like this. We need to put a stop to this. We are at this point. We cannot be satisfied with the current inadequate situation. We need to develop and spread our campaign aiming for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo. We must enrich, diversify, strengthen and enlarge our actions. We must raise hell. We are at such a pivotal moment now. It has become obvious that soft methods are not working.

This is how we evaluate the current situation: it cannot continue like this. If we do not gain results with this kind of action, then we will find the other possible ways. It is not enough to blame others for not working, we will make them work. We will increase our power of action. Everyone need to see this. We need to evaluate ourselves, our movement, our people, and our international friends as a whole. Some statements are being made by lawyers and academics abroad in relation to Rêber Apo’s situation; they say that the current status is a crime. This is not even debatable. Everything must be done against this. Everyone should enable herself/himself to do everything, wherever they are. We should be in such a situation.

We are at the end of the line. Nothing will just happen with words. Action is necessary, action that gets results are necessary. I invite everyone to make such an assessment of the situation. We will act in whatever way is necessary.

We are in the month of May which is an important month for your movement as for you it marks the ‘Month of the Martyrs’. How do you evaluate the importance of this month?

First of all, on the forty-seventh anniversary of his martyrdom, I commemorate the great revolutionary comrade Haki Karer and all our martyrs of the freedom struggle with respect, love and gratitude. As we enter the forty-eighth year of his martyrdom, I reiterate once again my promise to achieve the goals of all martyrs and to keep their memories alive. Again, I would also like to commemorate Ibrahim Kaypakkaya, one of the leaders of the Turkish revolution, and all the martyrs of the Turkish revolution with respect, love and gratitude. Ibrahim Kaypakkaya was also murdered through torture on May 18, 1973. Comrade Haki Karer was also murdered by the same forces in Antep on May 18, 1977. May is also a month of martyrs for the revolutionaries of Turkey.

On May 6, Deniz2, Yusuf3, and Huseyin4 were executed. On May 9, comrade Ulas Bayraktaroglu5 was martyred. The end of May marks the anniversary of the martyrdom of Sinan Cemgil6 and his friends. Arab revolutionaries also consider May 16 as the day of martyrs. On May 16, 1916, Arab intellectuals were massacred by the Ittihat & Terakki7. I commemorate with respect and gratitude all those who were martyred resisting against the occupation and colonialism. We will keep these martyrs alive and walk in their footsteps through the struggle we are developing for a united revolution in Turkey and Kurdistan. We are keeping the memories of these martyrs alive with the democratic struggle we are developing on the basis of the Kurdish-Arab alliance in the Middle East. As a movement, we will keep them alive even more.

Rêber Apo has always expressed, that the resistance against the fascist coup on 12 March 1971, shaped him. He said that the great resistance led to revolutionary organization and action, on the basis of preserving the memories of the martyrs. In other words, he entered this struggle in order to hold up the memories of the martyrs correctly. To hold up the memories of those who walked with Deniz, Ibrahim, and Mahir8. He then said that “the PKK is the practical and organizational memory of Haki Karer.” He stated that it is the martyrs that form the PKK and described Haki Karer as his own, hidden soul. The PKK declared May 18 as Kurdistan Martyrs’ Day a few years later. Indeed, if we look at the PKK and the history of its struggle, every step of development was made through the sacrifice of martyrs. It was developed and achieved on the basis of upholding the memories of the martyrs. The Hilvan resistance9 was a struggle developed in memory of Halil Cavgun10. Halil Cavgun was martyred by the fascist, colonialist, genocidal enemy while he was commemorating Haki Karer on the anniversary of his martyrdom. The historical Hilvan resistance developed on the basis of the correct preserving of the memory of our martyrs.

The prison resistances are another example. The resistance of the four11, the resistance of Mazlum Dogan12, the resistance of July 14th13, are what caused the historical prison resistance to become so effective. What inspired Ferhat Kurtay and his friends was the anniversary of Haki Karer’s martyrdom. The action of the four is a result of the strength they gained from the martyrs. What gave them direction was their effort to claim the memory of comrade Haki Karer correctly. On the basis of the Hilvan resistance, the prison resistance, and then the August 1514 breakthrough, May became a month of action. Dozens of actions and dozens of martyrs every day, have brought us to where we are today. A great army of martyrs had emerged.

The martyrs command this struggle, they educate the people and unite them. Our martyrs are the most righteous participants of our party. Understanding the reality of Rêber Apo correctly and acting accordingly successfully requires, first of all, understanding the reality of the martyrs correctly and walking in their footsteps correctly. These are so intertwined. In this respect, May 18 was defined as Martyrs’ Day.

May became the month of martyrs when martyrdoms increased on each anniversary, when almost dozens of people were martyred every day. This was is a reality which developed in life. The memory of Haki Karer created an organized struggle, step by step. And an army of martyrs became the vanguard of this struggle. And it was them who led the struggle. Therefore, just as our movement and our people defined May 18 as Martyrs’ Day, they also defined May as the month of Martyrs. We commemorate on this basis, evaluate the month of May on this basis, and embrace our martyrs on this basis.

Undoubtedly, there are two main dimensions of embracing martyrs correctly. One is to understand and participate correctly, in the reality of martyrs and therefore the reality of Rêber Apo. To see and eliminate mistakes and deficiencies. To renew oneself in the line of martyrs through critical, self-critical questioning. This is something that all revolutionaries and patriots must do. This is what we are all doing this May, as the movement and the people, as revolutionaries and patriots. This is what we must do. If we are to understand the martyrs correctly, then we will have to renew, change, and correct ourselves in the reality of the martyrs. If there are aspects of our feelings, thoughts, mentality and behavior that keep us away from this reality, we will discard them. We will fill ourselves with the measures, spirit, emotion and thought of the martyrs. We will be closer to the life of the martyrs. We will not distance ourselves. We will always live close to our martyrs. We will live and work in the line of the martyrs. We will struggle.

The second is struggle, of course. It is the struggle to claim their memories correctly, to struggle to achieve their goals. Those martyrs are martyrs of this freedom struggle. They believed in the freedom of Kurdistan, the freedom of the people, women’s freedom, social freedom with all their being, and they carried out such a struggle that they sacrificed their entire being for it. They were so passionate about freedom. They adopted the line of freedom defined by Rêber Apo at this level. This is how they participated sincerely and marched without hesitation. The reality of martyrs expresses this. It is a reality of struggle. Then we will struggle. We will develop the struggle more. We will develop and advance the struggle for freedom wherever we are on the basis of maximizing opportunities and possibilities. Otherwise, martyrs cannot be embraced correctly; the month and day of martyrs cannot be understood and lived correctly. If we are to live right, this is definitely the right life. The right life is the life of the martyrs. Therefore, if we are to live correctly, we will understand the reality of martyrs correctly and try to reach them in principle. That is our goal. We will live and struggle on that basis. There is no other way.

In this respect, I especially greet the relatives of martyrs, the families of martyrs, the mothers of martyrs. They know this reality better; they represent it better. They organize and struggle more to achieve the goals of the martyrs. They will make more effort to educate and organize society in the line of the martyrs, on the basis of the reality of Rêber Apo. We need to do this as a whole party. But the relatives of martyrs also have a duty and responsibility. It is the martyrs that educate us, keep us together, make us organized. They are our main source of strength anytime, anywhere. We find the solution in the line of the martyrs. We reveal the will, consciousness and assertion on the basis of understanding the reality of martyrs correctly. This is a clear fact. We have no other source of power.

The reality of Rêber is the sum of the reality of the martyrs. Rêber Apo said, “I am in a position to strive to carry out the line of the martyrs correctly, to ensure that it is understood and embraced correctly.” A martyr is a witness, a witness that the cause for which one has given their life is right and will triumph. Now we have more than fifty thousand martyrs. The idea of Rêber Apo, the paradigm, the line of victory of the PKK and PAJK has been verified by so many witnesses. There can be no hesitation or doubt. There can be no weak approaches. With these facts, we cannot live in any other way. We cannot set other measures and goals before us. This is how to understand May correctly.

Finally, let me express the following. May 16th is also the anniversary of the Hewler (Erbil) Massacre15. I commemorate the martyrs of the massacre with respect and gratitude in the person of comrades Salih, Helin and Ozan.

Let us understand correctly what betrayal and collaborationism are. How did the Hewler Massacre happen? What has collaborationism done and what is betrayal doing today; it is important to see this correctly. The reality of the martyrs shows us this. The struggle against colonialism, genocide and fascism is inseparable from the struggle against collaborationism and betrayal. We need to see this fact and understand it correctly.

Based on this, I once again respectfully remember Comrade Haki Karer and all of our May martyrs, including Mehmet Karasungur16 and Kasim Engin17, as well as all of our martyrs of the freedom struggle, and I declare that we will strengthen our struggle for our freedom while honoring their memory.

There has been some news that a new military operation was initiated by the Turkish state in the region of Metina in the Medya Defense Zones18. What can you say about this operation?

The history of the ongoing war is known, there is no need to repeat this. Actually, there may be a need for more discussion and better understanding. But if we talk about the new situation, our Central Headquarters institutions have already disclosed information. Since April 16th, there has been an occupation attack against Metina. In fact, there had been occupation attacks in and around Metina before. There is a partial occupation attack aimed at occupying Metina as a whole. The HPG-BIM has explained this many times. Journalists and members of the press who receive information have explained in detail how these attacks are being conducted. Our Central Headquarters also outlined the characteristics of the attack. “It is a piecemeal attack,” they said. In other words, step by step, they want to take various places and combine them to reach a general occupation. By occupying Metina, they want to besiege Zap, that great stronghold of resistance. It is said that the Iraqi state has given 20 kilometers of the border to Turkey under the name of a buffer zone. In fact, they want to occupy those 20 kilometers completely now. The guerrilla has been resisting to prevent this occupation for years, giving so many martyrs.

Now there are important resistances against the development of this occupation. There were actions against this occupation operation in Metina. From Seladize to other areas, blows were struck to the Turkish army. As the hordes of the fascist AKP-MHP take steps towards occupation, the guerrilla seizes the opportunity and strikes. There is an intense conflict situation.

The balance sheets of HPG-BIM give broad informations on the losses of the Turkish army. They also announce our martyrs. There is nothing that the HPG is hiding or keeping secret from the public on this issue. The guerrilla is cautious, and it takes action. It is no longer just resisting only when it is attacked. It plans and carries out actions itself. In other words, it is in a tactical attack position. Therefore, of course the losses are low. Our martyrs are few. I salute the HPG and YJA Star forces who are carrying out this resistance. I commemorate the martyrs of the resistance with respect, love and gratitude.

Maybe not with the intensity of some periods of the past years, but there is an attack with such a purpose and framework. There are also some other things. As the HPG has explained, the Turkish army uses forbidden weapons when it fails, when it is forced. The HPG also announced today, that the Turkish army is using chemical weapons. It uses tactical nuclear bombs. It is concentrating on such weapons. There has also been an increase in aerial bombardment recently. It seems that the negotiations with the US on the basis of Sweden’s entry into NATO have yielded certain results in their perspective. They have bought new warplanes. They are carrying out more attacks from the air.

In the same way that they ensure the isolation on Imrali through legal pretexts, they carry out the attack against the guerrillas at the same level and they receive support. The Turkish state doesn’t have the power to attack on its own. They cannot do one step if they do not have backing. Just as there is a unity in the system of isolation, torture and genocide in Imrali – on the basis of the states of the UN, NATO and the Turkish Republic as the implementing power – the same situation exists in the attack against the guerrillas. They are pursuing the same objective of elimination by assaulting both Rêber Apo and the guerilla at the same level.

In fact, what is being attempted in Imrali is extermination. They wanted to exterminate Rêber Apo on October 9, 98, but they failed. They envisioned extermination by execution on February 15, they failed. They said they would destroy us ideologically, politically and organizationally with the policy of the Imrali system, they failed again. As if they were taking revenge for this, they are attacking to destroy the guerrilla, and on the other hand they are attacking Rêber Apo by violating and ignoring all kinds of law, by disguising lawlessness. They could not win in the Imrali struggle, they were defeated. They want to take revenge in this way. They see these attacks as an opportunity to disguise their losses. A very important thing here is the goal of crushing the guerrilla; the same forces who are implementing the system of Imrali are working together on the attacks against the guerrilla.

Of course, we are focusing on the war, the war needs to be evaluated well. Its consequences in Turkey have not been discussed enough. It is discussed very little. However, we need to make a good analysis of Turkey. The economic crisis, the political crisis, the social crisis, the cultural crisis, all kinds of corruption, the drug policy, the destruction of all kinds of sociality are all for the war. The resources exploited are always invested in the war. This is being done so that no one raises a voice against the war. Tayyip Erdogan has brought his own end, in fact he has finished Turkey, he has finished society. After the election, he said “this is not the end”. But it was an end. He finished Turkey and he finished himself. Now, he is still searching for a new way. He begged and pleaded so much that he would take power from NATO and the US. It didn’t work; he wanted to get power from Iran, Iraq, KDP and PUK. These were evaluated. He was invited by the US administration to meet with Biden. The AKP press propagandized this for weeks. Suddenly, when a US official said we don’t have such a program, the lies deflated like a balloon. In order to camouflage this, Erdogan tried to show off by hanging Turkish flags everywhere. He even went to Barzani’s feet. 30 years ago, when there was no PKK, they wouldn’t even send a sergeant to meet the Barzani’s. Now they are bragging. The Barzani’s are also very eager to turn South Kurdistan into a province of Turkey, a province of AKP-MHP fascism. That is how they, how they behave. But the situation Tayyip Erdogan is in, is obvious.

Various agreements have been made. It is said that a new invasion will be developed based on this. Everyone is waiting, wondering what this attack will be. I mean, it could happen. Everyone should be prepared. That’s how we approach it. We shouldn’t take it lightly. We shouldn’t take anything for granted. Because life is not simple. We should always be prepared. But it is not that easy for them right now. They are not in a position to do whatever they want. If they were, they would do it. So what is happening? They tried to do things with some agreements. It seems that they could not create the joint force they had planned. This was not possible anyway. Neither Iran nor Iraq wants it. No one has the power or the need for it. Why should they serve as a soldier for Turkey? Has everyone become KDP? Are they Barzani? I mean they are not. They are struggling against them. Everyone has their own interests.

But we need to understand this so-called Development Road project correctly. There is no such road. There is no trade. If there really was such a project, everyone from America to Israel would oppose it. They are actually deceiving Iraq. Some of our friends also discussed this. They want to enter Iraq under the pretext of a trade route. They want to go deeper into Iraq. They envision that they will send troops to build the roads, then they will send soldiers, police, intelligence. Erdogan said he would encircle from Sulaymaniyah to Zaxo with a joint force. He failed in the Medya Defense Zones. In this way, he is attempting to encircle all of Southern Kurdistan from the south. This Battle Road project has such a military purpose. According to his plans, Erdogan’s forces will enter Iraq turn it into a battlefield. Probably Iran, Iraq and everyone sees this. Of course, this would be a disaster for Iraq. No one will accept it. Of course, we will fight against such a thing. The entry of so many Turkish forces into Iraq is an occupation, it should not be underestimated. How did mercenary territories come to be? Disguising them as Turkmens, Erdogan will create territories for his mercenaries in Iraq. They did this in Cyprus and is doing this in many other places.

Our leadership has warned the KDP regarding military movement in guerrilla areas. I have nothing more to say in this regard. The KDP has commanded that its war forces get ready. This would be a disaster for the KDP. If they take one step further and goe directly to war on the side of the Turkish Republic, they will bring their own end. I can say this much. We will surround them everywhere. The PKK and the guerrilla are everywhere. Everyone should know this. Everyone sees what the guerrilla is and how it fights. Therefore, we are watching and observing.

We are continuing our struggle. We will continue our global freedom campaign on the military front as well. The campaign is spreading, so is the guerrilla. There are also actions in the cities. We believe that this will develop much more in the coming period. In general terms, those who develop this war and insist on it will drown in the blood they shed.

The leadership and coordination both of PAJK and the KJK have jointly shared a self-defense declaration for women. As the PKK, what can you say in regards to this declaration?

The joint self-defense declaration of the PAJK and KJK was important and meaningful. It also sparked a certain debate due to its timing. As the PKK, we fully agree with this declaration. We need to do everything to develop awareness about self-defense, to organize it and to take accordingly actions. We definitely need to overcome our shortcomings in this regard.

The declaration was for women. Undoubtedly, women are under the heaviest oppression, persecution, rape and massacre. They experience the heaviest slavery. Therefore, self-defense is more important and necessary for women than bread and water. But the stance of the general society is not very different from that of women. It is said that the level of freedom of a society is determined by the level of freedom of women. We can also read this the other way around. Then the state of a society, the state of slavery, is linked to the state of women. If women need so much self-defense, if they are in such a situation, if there is so much pressure and oppression on them, it is the same for the whole of society.

So yes, it is very important for women, because they are the pioneers. We should definitely not challenge this. But we must spread this consciousness, organization and action to the whole of society. All of society must be conscious, organized and active in defending itself against this fascist, colonialist, genocidal, special war mentality, system, and attacks. This must be the case from the age of seven to seventy. Women, men, young and old, everyone should be like this. Self-defense means security. Security is one of the three basic conditions of existence, along with nutrition and reproduction. It is inextricably linked to existence, that is, to life, and also to freedom. Therefore, those without self-defense have no security. And those who have no security have no freedom. Those who have no security are under the heaviest slavery because they become the slave of whoever has taken away their security.

These nation states have built armies. Armies signify power, and by depriving society of power, they have concentrated all power in their own hands and the hands of the state. They have dragged society and women to such a position of slavery, deprived of freedom, under oppression and persecution. Therefore, against this, everyone must have the awareness, attitude and will to ensure their own security. Security cannot be entrusted to someone else. Security cannot be given to someone else. You cannot rely on a security force. No one can be anyone else’s security force.

If everyone is to live free, they can only be free to the extent that they ensure their own security. Therefore, if a woman is to be free, this freedom is only achieved to the extent that she ensures her security. If society is to be free, they are free to the extent that they have ensured their own security, if the individual is to be free, they are free to the extent that they have ensured their own security. We need to develop such a consciousness, organization and action in society and make society educate itself, organize itself and take action on this basis. States are doing the opposite. Especially fascist, colonialist, genocidal dictatorships bring people to the state of genocide, the slaughter of society. This is how they weaken societies and take all the power in their own hands. On the contrary, we must give power back to the individual and society, to women. This should definitely be the goal and effort of the revolutionary struggle, the struggle for freedom and equality. Some misunderstandings should not arise in this regard. I mean, self-defense is the most legitimate right; how much more can people trust the UN, how much can anyone trust the law and legitimacy of states? Is there such a legitimacy left? There is none. Therefore, no one should say that “we have rights and laws”. You have the right to live and be free as long as you make yourself conscious, organized and active. There is no other, no one will grant you such rights. This must be the attitude, consciousness and stance.

However, self-defense shouldn’t be limited to being a concept, a state of mind, or a topic of conversation. Furthermore, it shouldn’t be viewed as just an organization or an action. It must be viewed holistically, in terms of consciousness, that is, in terms of the integrity of education and the informed planning and execution of actions. Unconscious planning and behavior, for instance, may result in situations where it is uncertain who this behavior will damage and what outcomes it will bring about. This is what creates gangs. If one only has consciousness, and no organization or action; this would become nothing but an empty, beautiful dream and nothing more. It will not have any practice, sanction or effect. For this reason, we ought to approach it holistically rather than breaking it up this way. There appear to be broken approaches. More people talk about self-defense as an idea, treating it like a subject which is only discussed; they refer to it as ‘self-defense consciousness and struggle’. However, some approaches do not focus on how it is organized and how it functions, nor do they link it with it. These are incorrect. I am able to say this clearly. It doesn’t grow or produce many effects in this way. This eventually makes it harder to fight back against fascist, imperialist, genocidal, and special war attacks of all types.

Some weeks have passed since the municipal elections in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan took place. Is there anything you would like to add to the evaluations made in relation to these elections?

Currently, in Northern Kurdistan and in Turkey, there is a very extreme legalism. Therefore, methods of action are not being enriched. Fascism is oppressing and attacking; in the face of this, there is no organization, no power and no line of action that is capable of frustrating these attacks. The actions are insufficient. There are some actions against these attacks, but these are very reformist, they are not radical. But if we insist on radical democracy, then the language of democracy is action, the line of action has to be radical.

If it is too legalized, too legalistic, it cannot be radical because the current legality and legalism is based on fascism. Can fascism be destroyed only by reformist methods of struggle, only by legal work? It is not possible. The legal system is already taking measures against this. Therefore, it is necessary to overcome being confined only to legalism and legality. If that is overcome, all actions will make sense. But without that, you can’t take many actions, and when you do, they won’t have any effect. As a matter of fact, this is what is seen in practice.

In this sense, I would like to draw the attention of the youth, especially the youth of Turkey and Kurdistan. The youth is the most dynamic force in this matter, a force that understands it best and has the ability to develop all kinds of methods of struggle and ways. Therefore, the youth must understand this correctly.

If the youth legalizes itself too much, if it drowns itself in legalism, it will really ceases to be revolutionary. If it legalizes itself, it cannot wage a radical struggle. The passive, reformist struggles will not be very effective too then. They would be meaningless. If there was a revolutionary, radical struggle, they would gain meaning along with that struggle. But in this case, they don’t.

In this respect, our young comrades must understand the situation correctly. They should know how to fight against fascism, how to organize. They should look at their history, study the ‘Kurdistan Youth Union’ (YCK), study the ‘The Movement of Patriotic Democratic Youth’ (YDGH). These names are not even being mentioned. However, this youth has a history, it has a line. It is definitely in a position to meet its own requirements. In this respect, we should be able to better develop the consciousness, organization and action that will overthrow fascism. In other words, we should not imprison ourselves in these laws. We must be able to develop all kinds of work, organization and action in our own legitimacy. We must be radical fighters. We must organize and wage antifascist war against fascism. Self-defense is a work of war. We must develop the self-defense war. We must not soften or eliminate the characteristic of war by calling it a ‘struggle’. Only when combined with war, can struggling make sense. Only then can other actions make sense. But without war, nothing will come out of such a struggle. In this respect, it is very important to approach and think correctly. This is my advice to young comrades. This is my call. They should think well. They should study history well.

With what kind of organization and action will the youth ensure that they really become a revolutionary youth? How will they reveal the unique, special organization and will of the youth? They should think about that. They should remember the ‘Revolutionary Youth’ (Dev-Genç). Is there anyone, today, who corresponds to the Dev-Genç? No. There was the YCK, there were other youth organizations, there wa a will. They were leading the society, developing a line of action. They were adding the will, emotion and action of the youth. Now there are weaknesses in these matters. On this occasion, I call on all young comrades to understand the fascist, genocidal system more accurately, to understand the questions of how to wage a correct and adequate struggle against it, how to develop organization and action, and to become successful in implementing them, and I wish them success.

We had evaluated the need for democratic forces and the strive for freedom, as well as the need to develop radical democracy in a stronger and more effective way. We also had some evaluations and recommendations for the CHP. We are observing the situation and actions of Ozgur Ozel’s administration. It is too early to say anything, but I think it is necessary to say the following at this point: he is not using the credit given by the society and the people correctly and well. If this happens, Ozel will not be able to overcome the Kilicdaroglu administration. If they try to lure everyone to compromise, fascism will succeed. That was the line of the Kilicdaroglu administration and we can see what it did to the CHP and to Turkey. We also saw how Kilicdaroglu handed everything over to the AKP-MHP. What steps will be taken towards a minimum democratization, to democratize the Republic, to make the second century a century of democratization? We haven’t seen anything serious, but we won’t go on at length. Their credit has finished, it would be useful for them to be informed.

We have come to the end of our interview, is there anything else you would like to add?

There were some valuable personalities who lost their lives and I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Ilhami Aras and Celal Baslangic. Ilhami Aras made many contributions to the revolutionary struggle in Turkey. He was a good friend and companion of Rêber Apo. I wanted to convey this to his relatives, on this occasion.

Celal Baslangic was a democrat who stood upright and insisted on what he knew was right. He did journalism justice. As he saw the practices in Kurdistan, he grew closer to the Kurdish people. He fought and exposed that which was being inflicted on the Kurds in the most difficult environments and without any hesitation. He played an important role in shedding light on these special war practices, attacks, conspiracies and massacres. In this sense, he contributed to the Kurdish struggle for freedom and the struggle for democratization in Turkey. He will be remembered for these contributions. This is how those who knew him, our friends, and everyone defined him. On this basis, I once again commemorate them both with respect and gratitude.

In the villages of Colemerg, the people developed an attitude against the plundering of nature. The people showed their attitude against capitalist modernity, against the private war attacks that plunder nature under the name of coal-mines. It was quite meaningful. The villagers of Marinos, for example, took a good stance. The statements they made were also good. I really salute their stance and resistance; it was meaningful and exemplary. We should all be like that everywhere against the understanding and attitudes that plunder and pillage all our nature. All villagers must be like that, all urbanites must be like that. Women, men, old, young, the whole of society must be like that. Because without nature, what can we do, how can we exist? Existence happened on this earth, with this nature. Whoever destroys this is destroying society, destroying existence. It is such a brutal attack. In this respect, this consciousness and action is very important.

On this basis, meetings are being held in Amed under the name of Ecology Union, it was reflected in the press. Various organizations are participating. In other words, we find all ecological work meaningful and important. We wish them success in these efforts.

Our criticism in this regard is only this. That is, not to tie the ecological struggle to the state, not to sacrifice ecology to politics. In other words, not to entrust the lamb to the wolf. They must not hand the green struggle to those who create the ecological problem. This is an important line. Why am I saying this? Some green movements have become statized, they gained power and later really harmed the ecological struggle. They need to be evaluated and criticized. In other words, they set the movement back. This should be the basic measure. In this sense, I salute any struggle for ecology and the protection of nature. I wish them success.

Finally, Amedspor has achieved an important success. I congratulate its success and wish it greater success. I also salute the fans of Amedspor. They really took good care of their team. But I would like to say this. They would do the right thing if they embraced their Kurdish identity and the struggle for freedom at the same rate. I also call on them to adopt such an attitude of embracement.


1 Referring to Kurdish peoples leader Abdullah Ocalan.

2 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.

3 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.

4 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.

5 Ulas Bayraktaroglu was a Turkish internationalist and commander in the ‘United Freedom Forces’ (BÖG). He martyred on May 9, 2017 in Raqqa in the fight against ISIS.

6 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.

7 The İttihad ve Terakki (Union and Progress) was a political party in the Ottoman Empire founded in 1889. It played a significant role in the late Ottoman politics, particularly during the Young Turk Revolution of 1908. The party is responsible for the Armenian Genocide, and paved the way for the fascist and genocidal mentality that exists in the Turkish state until today and which is today primarily directed against the Kurdish people.

8 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.

9 In the northern Kurdish region of Hilvan in 1978 – as a first step towards liberating society from the yoke of exploitation – there were clashes with the large landowners.

10 Halil Cavgun was a leading militant of the Kurdish freedom movement. He lost his life on May 19, 1978 in a clash during the Hilwan resistance.

11 Ferhat Kurtay, Eşref Anyık, Necmi Öner and Mahmut Zengin were four militants of the Kurdish freedom movement. After months of torture in the prison of Amed (tr. Diyarbakir) and treason slowly threatening to spread, they decided to set a sign of resistance. On the night of May 12, 1982, they set themselves and their cell on fire. This night has since been known as “the night of the four”.

12 Mazlum Dogan is one of the founding members of the PKK and was one of the pioneers of the resistance in the infamous Amed (tr.: Diyarbakir) prison. On Newroz 1982, he set fire to his cell, referring to fire as the central symbol of the Newroz tradition, and hanged himself. This act of resistance was the trigger for a long series of resistance actions in Turkish prisons and also led to a reorientation of resistance outside the prisons.

13 On July 14, 1982, the beginning of a death fast was declared in Amed prison. It represented the height of prison resistance in the 1980s.

14 August 15, 1984 was the day when the Kurdish freedom movement started its armed struggle with coordinated attacks in different places.

15 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.

16 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.

17 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.

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