our interviews

april 21, 2024

Firstly, let us evaluate the international ‘Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan, a Political Solution to the Kurdish Question’ campaign that has been ongoing for several months. What is your opinion on the latest actions and the campaign as a whole?

First of all, I would like to respectfully offer my greetings to Rêber Apo1 who is currently conducting a historic resistance on Imrali island. The aggravated solitary confinement and isolation being imposed on Rêber Apo continues. For thirty-seven months, over three years, we have not heard any news from Rêber Apo. We are entering a fourth year under these conditions. There has been no disclosure of information from the responsible institutions in regards to Imrali. All the hegemonic forces seem to approve of this situation and participate in it. A collaboration can clearly be ascertained.

Certain European institutions, particularly the Council of Europe, are responsible for the creation and management of the Imrali system. These institutions are the decision-makers in regard to Imrali. They try to portray themselves in a democratic light, yet it is undisputable that they are party to this undemocratic situation. There is a very deliberate misconduct aiming to delay, or prevent altogether, the re-evaluation of Rêber Apo’s case after 25 years – the decision made by courts during his legal case. In this attempt, they are issuing constant ‘disciplinary penalties’ against Rêber Apo to ensure his case is not re-evaluated. This is why we emphasize the significance of legal struggle.

In this respect, a conference in which various jurists participated was held at the European Parliament a few days ago; this is meaningful and important. We need to hold many such conferences. It has become clear that nothing on Imrali is proceeding according to the law. All kinds of rights violations are being carried out there. It is necessary to struggle more against this and to work harder on exposing the ongoing situation. As was reflected in the press, there will be a mass action in Strasbourg. There will be a protest in front of the institutions responsible for the Imrali system. I would like to congratulate the participants in advance and wish them all the success.

This captivity of Rêber Apo should not be understood as something that only the Turkish state, the AKP, and the MHP are responsible for. Yes, they have a part in it, but there are other actors who hold the biggest share. In this respect, I want to emphasize the necessity of struggle. It is necessary to struggle every day. Every Kurd should be in action. What the enemy is trying to do is create the foundations that we accept to not receive any news from Rêber Apo. They hope to weaken or break our connection with Rêber Apo in this way. So, what we must do is grow closer to Rêber Apo. We must assume it our most fundamental duty to think, discuss, struggle, and take action for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo every day. All Kurds, wherever they are, men and women, young and old, should be in constant action. We must expand and spread our global campaign, which aims for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo and the solution of the Kurdish question. We must pave the way for gradual mass participation in the campaign. And there are important developments in this sense. There have been important actions and events in the last period. On March 8, the protests of women united with the goal of Rêber Apo’s physical freedom. Indeed, it was predicted that the second phase of our freedom campaign would be the phase of mass unification; this was indeed the case. On Newroz, tens of millions of people were taking to the streets and uniting at the celebration venues. It was one of the most spectacular Newroz celebrations of all time. The celebrations were intertwined with the goal of Rêber Apo’s physical freedom. Corresponding slogans were chanted everywhere. The Kurdish people demonstrated their stand. Almost like in a congress, they made a declaration of their will; that there will be no life without Rêber Apo, and that they demand the physical freedom of Rêber Apo.

The outcome of all this was reflected in the March 31st election. This is the background against which the elections should be evaluated. In the municipal elections, this isolationist, fascist, colonialist, and genocidal mentality and politics suffered a fatal blow. The AKP was demoted from being single-party, it lost its base and allies. This is an important situation.

This spirit prevailed all through the April 4th celebrations, and it’s something that needs to be spread. Every day and every place must be utilized to advance the goals of the struggle. Every person must consider the possibilities and keep their focus on the struggle. May 1st is now ahead of us. On May 1st, we must reach a new peak. We must raise the bar in our fight for freedom. In the same way it was important to voice the demand for Rêber Apo’s physical independence at Newroz and on March 8, we must also make our voices heard on May 1st.

Just as Rêber Apo is the leader that revived Newroz and gave a new meaning to March 8, it is Rêber Apo that makes the greatest contribution to May 1st. Therefore, May 1st should be organized for Rêber Apo, and actions on this day should be taken for him. All Kurds, wherever they are, should take to the squares and streets on May 1st. They must lead the way, they must unite with workers and laborers everywhere, they must unite with the people; and they must really take the freedom campaign to a new peak, on a global level. This is important, especially since May 1st is an opportunity to achieve this. Let’s make good use of this opportunity. Everyone should make preparations from now, establish relations, contact organizations, and do whatever it takes. It is important to add meaning to May 1st – redefine it as a day when all workers and laborers, all socialist left forces, all oppressed people, women, and youth, from all over the world, struggle for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo. Let’s reach a new peak with our campaign on May 1st. This is our stance and our call. And we believe this will be the case. I congratulate our people, workers and laborers, and all oppressed peoples on May 1st, and I wish them all success.

In relation to the municipal elections that took place on March 31 in Northern Kurdistan and Turkey, the results were a great success for the people and a heavy blow for the government. What conclusions should be drawn from the elections? And what will happen next with Erdogan and the AKP?

The first thing the AKP needs to do is step down if there is even a tiny shred of democracy left in Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan must step down. When it suits their interests, the Erdogan regime attempts to imitate European culture by presenting themselves as Europeans. This is what they have been doing for a century. But when we think about it, any president, prime minister, or administration in Europe would have had to step down if they found themselves in the same predicament as Turkey has at the moment. Nothing in Turkey is the same. The phrase “end” was used by Tayyip Erdogan in his post-election speech. Did he come to terms with his impending end? He had to have given it some thought, he knew it was over, but he is also aware that his close circles won’t pressure him to step down. He doesn’t anticipate to be confronted, since he has censored any such attempt during his rule. In regards to the various political and social forces, uncertainty prevails. Will they force an early parliamentary election? Will they ask for Erdogan’s resignation? Its unclear. As the freedom movement, our reaction is to struggle. We will do this with or without elections. We are such a movement.

The Tayyip Erdogan administration was boastful about how it had won every election since its establishment. It used this as grounds to gain support for the occupation operation it has been planning this entire winter. Thus, it was hoping for a favorable outcome during these elections. It held numerous meetings in this regard with the USA and NATO. They got support and acceptance in return for Sweden’s NATO membership. Throughout the winter, they had been continuously active in Hewlêr [Erbil] and Baghdad. They continued their efforts and visited Iran too. Erdogan is reportedly scheduled to visit Baghdad on April 22nd. After this, Erdogan is scheduled to visit America, to find support. So, his hope and his plan was to be successful in the elections, and with the wind of this election and a little bit of legitimacy, he would further develop his genocidal occupation attacks, both towards the Medya Defense Zones2 and other areas. But after already suffering a heavy defeat in war, Erdogan has also suffered a heavy defeat in this election. During the winter, the Kurdish freedom guerrilla struck blow after blow in the region of Zap. Erdogan was defeated militarily, and now, after suffering a political defeat in the elections, his position has weakened even more. Militarily and politically, he has lost the initiative and suffered defeat. What could he do now? If he were a bit democratic, there would be no other choice than to resign. Since he is not, he will try to continue his way with the same methods. The only remedy he will resort to is war, aggression, more fascist oppression, and terror. With this, he will try to silence all opposition.

Based on this, the government will try to extend its life a little longer. There is no other alternative the Erdogan administration see for themselves. They are in such a situation that Tayyip Erdogan’s government, in its current form, has been hit politically and militarily and has lost its power. It is not able to attack as it wishes, yet it desperately needs to attack. If it does not attack, if it does not escalate fascist terror, it sees that there is no route to survival for itself, there is no other way to prolong its life. It is in such a predicament. In fact, even if it attacks it will not be able to free itself from this situation. Further attacking just means sinking deeper into a total deadlock. The reason for this is the policies which it is pursuing, its anti-Kurdish, occupying, and genocidal attack policies. Still, the Erdogan administration is trying to save the situation a little bit and is trying to mitigate the defeats, to breathe a little bit, to continue its wars, and to create further deceptions for its forces. Erdogan is going to go to Baghdad and America and wants to prepare his surroundings for the new attacks that he is going to carry out. This seems to be the case.

Is this a solution? Not at all in our eyes. But this is a struggle. We will see what the results will be. This government is actually experiencing its last days. If the AKP government does attack, then this will be its last attack. They always stated that this was their last fight. This slogan was the only one they so determinedly used, and now it has become their truth. This is going to be their last fight.

On this basis, it tries to find support again, but it is confronted with difficulties. Why would the Iraqi government, the forces of South Kurdistan, and similar forces support a power that has suffered such a political and military defeat? Why would they support an occupier, that is occupying their territory? The Tayyip Erdogan administration creates problems wherever it goes. Thereby, the biggest problem is Tayyip Erdogan, with his ideas and his political presence, himself. So far, he has stirred up trouble everywhere. By doing so, he has robbed, stolen and made himself and his relatives become some of the richest people in the world. Why should anyone support this? Erdogan will probably want to take advantage of the vacuum, a result of the upcoming elections, in the US.

In short, Erdogan is in a weak position, he has been hit but he is not gone yet, he will attack desperately. This needs to be seen and preparations need to be done accordingly. This is important. As a movement, we evaluate these, but everyone should evaluate this. All patriots, all our people, everyone should know this. Everyone needs to be prepared. We must succeed in strangling the AKP-MHP fascism in this last attack. This must be our goal. They will suffocate and collapse in their last attack. We must believe this and in order to achieve this, everyone must prepare and participate in this process of resistance and needs to mobilize.

What does the success in these municipal elections mean for the social, democratic, and oppositional forces of the country?

Let me first say that fascism was not tolerated in Kurdistan. As in all prior elections, the Kurdish people once again demonstrated their unwavering desire for freedom and democracy. The demands of the Kurdish people are clear: they want Turkey to become democratic and accept their freedom. The election results make this quite evident and apparent. It has been reported that the AKP used various fraudulent strategies and coercion to win mayorships in many Kurdish cities. It was evident that there were blatant frauds. Many votes were shifted, frauds were committed, ballot boxes were rigged, and people were lined up like slaves, taken away, and forced to vote. In other words, the era of slavery has now taken the form of voting under AKP rule.

Aside from this, I want to commend and honor the Kurdish people for their advocacy of freedom and democracy. They demolished the appointment of trustees in Kurdistan with great determination. By taking ownership of their municipalities, they succeeded. By winning these elections, they were able to make the municipalities the home of the people. We consider this a very important aspect. With the spirit of success, the people began to rebuild their municipalities. This is how it should stay going forward. It is necessary to represent the people’s will. These buildings should be used by the community to manage its affairs.

The elected co-mayors of the municipalities should be the ones to coordinate these works, to unite and integrate with the people on this basis. So much so that the municipalities should turn into spaces of organizing. Of course, the government is trying to usurp again. The example in Wan depicts this mentality, making it visible to everyone. This approach is not a one-off, it is not something that just happened. From now on, there will be no more trustees, no more usurpation. The stance of the people of Wan and the democratic forces clearly showed this. What was done in Wan can be done everywhere.

Still, everyone must be ready for the attacks that will come from the AKP-MHP fascist administration. The people must be ready, and the co-chairs must be ready. They should be able to turn their municipalities into centers of organization and democracy – local democracy in particular. They must be prepared for all kinds of fascist, genocidal, and colonialist attacks. Nevertheless, there will be resistance. No place will just surrender with or without resistance. Moreover, the municipality symbolizes the organization of the people. It means for organized people to conduct their own work. If the people have decided on something, if a united and organized voice arises from this, the municipality work would truly find meaning. The services of the municipality is not limited to a building but rather the streets and everywhere else. This is how everyone should approach the municipality, which is an important part of local administration. This must be the fundamental approach in the new period.

On the other hand, the duty of democratizing Turkey withstands. We attach great importance to this factor as well. Let me express the following in this regard: Some circles were complaining that AKP-MHP fascism was very effective in various parts of Turkey, that there was a fascist lockdown, that people were completely brainwashed, that these regions were full of racist, nationalist, and chauvinist mentality, and that it was very difficult to change them. These elections have nullified such an approach. It has become clear that society in Turkey is open to change. It is not ossified or anything like that. Of course, there are such regions, but the fascist-dominated areas are a very small minority in Turkey. The vast majority are actually in search of democracy. They feel suffocated because of the economic crisis and the crisis that emerged as a result of the Kurdish hostility and war policies created by AKP-MHP fascism. They are hungry and are looking for perspectives and a solution. There is huge pressure, there is terror, and people cannot breathe. If a party is able to provide the people with that which they need, the people would be willing to organize in the name of democracy and freedom. Whether this was the Black Sea region or Central Anatolia, it would not matter. During the elections, positive results were achieved in places that were thought to be impossible. Therefore, the forces of democracy, the DEM Party, and the Labor and Freedom Alliance should develop a broad peace and democracy movement in Turkey. There is already a basis for this in Kurdistan. The people there run their own affairs. It is important to spread to new areas, to attract people with different views, to make appropriate propaganda and education, and to spread concepts of democracy and freedom.

In this respect, all political circles and parties in Turkey should regard this situation as an advantage. They must work on mobilization, propaganda, and organizing. The situation right now shows that there is potential for this to evolve. Indeed, such an effort would find supporters, bring down this government in the shortest possible time, and develop an alternative democratic administration.

I need to underline the following: a new process has started in Turkey. The democratization process, democratic consciousness, political organization, and action will develop. Fascism will be overthrown, all its effects will be erased, and democratization will prevail. Kurdish freedom is a fundamental pillar of this. No matter what was inflicted on the Kurdish people in the past, no matter how much pressure was put, the Kurdish people did not step-back. They are the motor force behind Turkey’s democratization. They are standing upright and vivid. It is necessary to work in every part of Turkey, in every city, from Istanbul to Izmir, from Ankara to Çukurova, to the Black Sea, to the neighborhoods, reaching the workers, laborers, and women, young and old. It is necessary to reach people of all genders, colors, and beliefs. It is necessary to explain this fascist, genocidal, colonialist mentality, politics, and system and ask them for democratization. The path to this is open and whoever walks it, wins. The tenet of patriotism brings a strive for democracy and a revolutionary mindset with it. On this basis, the democracy movement can develop strongly. They have won so many municipalities and are getting so many votes. If this work is properly conducted, the democratic bloc would gain as much as 20-30 percent and become the first party.

Following Kilicdaroglu’s defeat, Özgür Özel’s CHP introduced a new dynamic to the elections. It became the first party. Ecevit’s CHP had made a similar breakthrough fifty years prior. But even with his greatest efforts, Ecevit failed to become the person to empower democracy because he was too ideologically entangled in the given politics and mentality to be able to innovate. This mindset is essentially a manifestation of cultural genocide articulated as enmity toward Kurds.

Coming back to today, could the current developments provide a new opportunity for the CHP? We don’t know if the Özgür Özel administration can really change the current situation. Can it overcome the dominant mentality and politics? Although the CHP is credited with founding the republic, this does not imply that they are its emissaries. The CHP has always considered itself to be the protector of the republic. They really state this outright. Establishing a republic is one thing, establishing a democratic republic is another. For Turkey to become a republic, there needs to be a mental and political transformation. One must internalize the true meaning of the concept of the republic, carrying the sincere desire to democratize it. It is essential to be devoted to democratic ideals. Is it possible for them to present such a program?

They should remember that the Kurdish issue lies at the core of all of Turkey’s issues if they are to propose an adequate democratic program. Be it the war, the economic crisis, or the political crisis; the isolation being imposed on Imrali is the cause. Can the CHP create new policies regarding these matters? Can the CHP adopt trustworthy steps that will widen the door to democracy and a democratic resolution of the Kurdish issue? We hope the CHP takes this action. We genuinely do.

Under the CHP, certain government officials are distorting historical events; they are not being truthful. They’re attempting to portray the Kurds as people who are against the Republicans, as though the Kurds undermine the will of the republic. They wish to use this as the foundation for a century of anti-Kurdish sentiment, a new pretext for more massacres and genocides against Kurds. All they’re doing is spreading false information. These are defamatory statements. It is imperative to examine the historical facts closely.

The Kurds were the ones who resisted against French and British occupation. The areas where the Kurds live were the only areas safeguarded from occupation. Again, in the example of Greek occupation, some Turkish chauvinists were encouraging people to flee saying that when the Greeks approached Eskişehir, Ankara should be left and the people should flee to Erzurum. All while, the Kurdish deputies were encouraging people to stay determined, saying that not even a step back would be taken. This is the true story of how Ankara was protected. Who can deny this? We all know this very well. The Kurds did the greatest service to the establishment of the Republic. Still, some individuals are trying to deceive society with lies.

The Republic did not protect the Kurds, it did not develop a democratic attitude. When they formed an alliance with the Kurds, they promised to implement the decisions they took. Supposedly, they were going to grant the Kurds autonomy. They made all kinds of promises, they put it in the constitution, but then they changed it all. When we look at the constitutions current form, it could be easily seen that many of its articles are based on the denial of Kurdish identity, even if this includes historical misrepresentation.

One article, in particular, states that: “Everyone who is bound to the Republic of Turkey by citizenship is a Turk.” This is what they define a Turk as. The Republic of Turkey has only existed for a hundred years. But were there no Turks in this world a hundred years ago? If the Turks are being reduced to a hundred-year-old society, they may as well not exist. The founding of the republic, represents only the founding of the republic. Not the founding of an entire society. This mentality which denies history, is unaware that it is also denying itself in the process. Even so, this article is given special status; it is unamendable. The name of this article cannot be changed, and its amendment cannot be discussed. The amendment of this article cannot be proposed, discussed, or requested – even asking for its amendment constitutes crime. The mentality behind such articles has become so abstract, so superficial, and so far from reality that it even denies itself. There is no need to elaborate further. Everyone knows, or should know, these obvious facts. The ruling circles and powers know history very well; they are conducting this policy to deliberately deceive.

So, will there really be some honesty and adherence today to the minimum democratic values? Actually, we would favor this and, of course, if this is achieved it will find support. Though, there must be a clear and transparent program regarding the CHP’s plans for the future. If this is the case, if the CHP can renew and democratize itself, it can really develop itself. It would be good if this happened.

In recent months, the guerrilla forces of the HPG and YJA Star have been able to inflict heavy blows on the Turkish military. As a result, not only the government but also the army has been battered. How do you assess this situation and what can you tell us about it?

First of all, I commemorate with respect, love, and gratitude all the martyrs of the HPG and YJA Star and all the martyrs of the freedom struggle, particularly comrade Eser Warşîn, our most recently declared martyr in Dersim. April 16 marks the anniversary of the martyrdom of Hozan Sefkan and his comrades, and April 17 is the anniversary of the martyrdom of comrade Arab Aziz. I commemorate all our martyrs, and particularly all our Arab martyrs, with respect, love, and gratitude. It is also the anniversary of the Anfal Massacre3, therefore I would also like to commemorate those who were martyred in the attacks by Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship in South Kurdistan and all the Anfal martyrs in particular.

The current period has been greatly influenced by the guerrilla. The foundation for the current political climate was established with the revolutionary actions that were carried out by the guerrilla throughout the winter. The guerilla the force which contributes greatest to the freedom movement. The main reason the AKP-MHP fascism suffered such a defeat in the municipal elections on March 31, is the success of the guerrilla. The guerrilla’s military losses and blows against AKP-MHP fascism cleared the path for the party’s electoral defeat too. This should be known to all. These revolutionary efforts were effective, significant, and of utmost importance. It was unlike anything that had ever been done before. Nobody can fight like the HPG and YJA Star guerrillas, as we’ve already said. In the areas where the guerrillas are fighting, no other force could survive. Under the conditions that the HPG and YJA Star guerrillas face, no other army could survive let alone fighting victoriously. With their networks of tunnels and teams, the guerrillas of Zap, Avashin, and Metina see the power in themselves to defeat any military force. The guerrillas have achieved successes that the US, Chinese, or Russian troops could not match. One could look at the situation of the Turkish army to understand this.

In the past, the Turkish army, as NATO’s second-largest army, was regarded as the army that supposedly gave energy and spirit to NATO. Now we see what has become of it. This was reflected in the press the other day. They were discussing the impact of the defeat on the Turkish army, calling it the ‘Mount Amediyê Syndrome’. Infact, the Turkish army has had its share of syndromes, whether in Zap, Nusaybin, or Kurdistan altogether. Generally speaking, they stumble from one syndrome to the next. For 40 years, the Turkish army has been suffering defeat after defeat. There is a Turkish idiom for this situation: “a defeated wrestler can never have enough of wrestling.” This describes their situation the best. Over and over again, they carry out operations and promise to destroy the PKK and end ‘terrorism’. Every summer, Tayyip Erdogan says, “This summer, I will bring the PKK to an end” How many summers have passed? He has been in power for twenty-two years, twenty-two summers have passed. What have you done? Who still believes your word? No one does.

In fact, some of them went as far as to claim that Turkish soldiers want to come to fight on Mount Amediyê. But in reality, hundreds of them preferred to resign. Some even committed suicide and shot themselves. Others use illness as an excuse to not fight. Nevertheless, the Erdogan government does not want to stop, this is clear. So, their soldiers became the unfortunate pawns of something which resembled a vivid war movie.

Who can stand against the guerrilla, a force so enthusiastic and determined? The insubordination of those Turkish soldiers is only natural. It is not those people who should be vilified but the ones who sent them there. They are responsible, they should come to fight themselves if they are so brave. Let Tayyip Erdogan’s children come. Most of them have not even completed their mandatory military service. Who are they fooling? They use money to buy individuals, then send them to kill others, which ends up with their deaths. Do they ever wonder what its like for those so-called soldiers? They really went through hell during the winter. Zap became a grave, a hell for fascism. This is the plain truth.

We had warned them that this would be the case, we told them not to bring the situation to this. But no one wanted to listen or understand. Now the guerrilla is fulfilling its duty. As a movement, we evaluated the past, learned our lessons, and adapted accordingly. We did not stop but continued working and preparing undisrupted. On the basis of the successes of this political-military struggle, an even greater enthusiasm, excitement, and energy has emerged. The initiative is in our hands, and we are ahead in our preparations.

I can state that we are currently engaged in the most critical phase of struggle. The Erdogan government has no other choice left, as we have previously stated. It will collapse even if it accomplishes this final war, though it will still fight with whatever it has left to able to extend its existence. Erdogan is behaving quite similar to Saddam. By looking at Saddam, Erdogan sees how he himself will die since this is the fate of all dictators. This makes him terrified so he emphasizes the homicidal war against the Kurds, his anti-Kurdish mentality, and fosters nationalism, racism, and chauvinism in Turkey in an attempt to bring about a fake unity between himself and the people.

I want to send a warning to the political circles in Turkey, especially to the CHP: they ought not to be a part in this war. They should not share the same fate as the AKP. What is the Turkish army doing in Iraq and Syria? They should ask these questions. Questioning this does not make them renegades or traitors. On the contrary, a patriot would not allow the children of their country to be sent here and there to be killed for the interests of one person. A true patriot would put an end to this situation, save these people from disaster.

Also, no one should be fooled by special warfare propaganda. Some people appear in the press claiming how victorious the Turkish army and war industry is. The truth is hidden in the battle fields. The HPG headquarters already shared the necessary information during Newroz. The world saw that the much-vaunted Turkish technology has no chance against the modern and capable guerrilla. Their so-called sophisticated technological equipment was shredded to pieces. It is a pity that the money and income of the people and laborers of Turkey is wasted like this. It is also incomprehensible and unacceptable that this is being done in order to kill Kurds, the same people who they call “one of us.” Anyone who does not oppose this under the pretext of patriotism has fallen prey to nationalism.

In that respect, what comes next is more important. Everyone who is in favor of democracy, freedom, justice, and equality should approach this critical phase with caution. Everybody must participate actively in the duty to get rid of this fascist regime that has been hanging over Turkey like a nightmare for 20 years. This is the beginning of the end of fascism. Let’s achieve this together under the leadership of the resistance of the guerrilla.

Let’s take one more look at Wan and what has happened there in recent weeks. Amongst your movement, how do you internally evaluate the situation there?

Our leadership has evaluated the situation in Wan and described it as a new spirit, a new style. I agree. I agree on the basis of a self-criticism: this should have emerged much earlier. In the face of such fascist, colonialist, genocidal special warfare attacks, this determination and spirit should have spread everywhere. That courage and sacrifice should have been encouraged before. Of course, fascism was always going to attack. But if you are organized and prepared, fascism is not omnipotent. The state, the power is not omnipotent. This was proved in Wan, it was proved in Shirnak. These places were insulted so many times, the special warfare attacks increased so much. All kinds of torture, injustice and disrespect was inflicted on these places. There is no dirty method left which this government has not already opted. They even destroyed cemeteries, they even exhumed corpses, they built apartment buildings on cemeteries, they tied corpses to the back of their cars and drove like this through the streets, they banned funeral ceremonies. Under this fascist regime, neither the people nor the dead are at peace. They inflicted all the repression and pain they could.

Now Turkey’s prisons are full. There was great resistance conducted in the prisons against this pressure and persecution from November 27 to April 4. This resistance now continues with new methods. Why this resistance? Both outside and within the prisons, there is great anger. There is no possibility for the young people, women and children to live. They invented a concept called ‘Torture and Child Abuse,’ which they are inflicting on prisoners. Here, what they refer to as ‘abuse’ is in fact rape. They act too shameful to use the word ‘rape’, then why are they so shameless to do such things? They do such indescribable things and try to legitimize their crimes against humanity by playing with words and concepts. This is what is happening under the rule of the AKP. They made are forcing imprisoned Kurdish mothers under torture, to say the following words about their daughters: “It is better to become a prostitute than to go to the mountains”. Is there a bigger insult than this?

Our social culture and our principles of free life must be taken into account. That is why I say that it is unavoidable to react or to resist. Such attacks must be resisted against everywhere and at all times. There is no power that can break the power of the people. There is no power greater than the people, the youth and women. The youth nullified the attackers in Wan and caught the experts of special warfare red-handed in Shirnak. They are like an organized army. Most military forces are equipped with money; they use all kinds of lies and deceit to fool people. With pressure, lies, and money, they deceive people and insult young people and children in all kinds of ways. We must never give them the opportunity.

On that note, the spirit created in Wan and Shirnak really is contagious. These people have shown a righteous, honorable, and patriotic attitude. This is the attitude that everyone must show at all times, everywhere. From now on, this attitude must be shown everywhere. Wherever there is the slightest attack, we must immediately demand hold its perpetrators to accountability. Nothing changes by just complaining. Some people complain, saying that the Turkish state puts pressure on them, tortures them, and so on. But the question is, what have you done against it? Why do you put yourself in such a miserable and helpless position? Don’t you have a mind, hands, feet, and power? You too can organize, become conscious, and be able to fight. While your opponent is organizing and attacking you, desiring so much to destroy you, why don’t you resist? Why don’t you feel responsible? Patriotism and democracy mean responsibility, consciousness, organization, and freedom. It means taking responsibility for your own life and ensuring your own defense and security in the face of any attack on your life. This is called the consciousness of self-defense. We practice this. Self-defense will only develop if it is conducted in an organized manner. Waiting for someone else to save you and always complaining will not work. The attitude of waiting and asking from others is the attitude of a slave, not a fighter, not a free person. A free person struggles and succeeds. They become the power they need. Rights are not given, they are taken. Everything is won through struggle. In that respect, we will struggle.

I would like to congratulate the people of Wan and of Shirnak. They have created a new situation. All the cities, towns, and neighborhoods of Kurdistan and Turkey should be inspired by this. The result is clear: only if one fights can one win. Anyone, anywhere, anytime, can do this. This is the reality. From now on, the right attitude to show in the face of all kinds of attacks from AKP-MHP fascism, is this attitude of resistance. Everyone must take to the streets, and the squares must be filled by people. Whoever is attacking must be confronted. We must confront with all our means; we must be organized. Of course, there should be no solo efforts. We must act carefully, plan, and be prepared. Like this, we can handle the attacks.

At this point, our people know the reality of special warfare. But awareness about its remedy is still too weak. The youth wanted to act, but we said that the most appropriate response against special warfare is the revolutionary peoples’ war. And what we see right now in Wan and Shirnak, is the revolutionary peoples’ war. It is people’s war, the people’s resistance. Everywhere, the people ought to resist and struggle. There is nothing that can impede the struggle of the people. For this, we should really renew ourselves based on strong self-criticism, especially regarding the approach of the youth and women. We must put aside those passive, submissive moods and attitudes. Whether it is the ideology of the petite bourgeoisie, the middle class, or whatever class; we must let such understandings go. We must struggle for freedom with a Apoist consciousness and will.

On this basis, we will educate and organize. We will do this by living in a communal way and resisting all kinds of attacks. As Rêber Apo said, “Even if we have the power to defeat the world, we will never attack anyone, but even if the world unites and comes against us, we will never compromise our legitimate democratic rights.” We will never give up the cause of free life. This is our philosophy. This is the philosophy of Kurdish women, youth, and free Kurdish people. From now on, we will work on stronger organizing and struggling according to this philosophy. There is nothing else that counts. It was these great resistances that reminded us of who we are. Once again, I would like to salute the spirit of resistance in Wan and Shirnak and call on everyone to internalize this spirit of resistance and to show such an attitude of resistance and victory against all kinds of special warfare attacks.

The resistance of young people in northern Kurdistan has been particularly remarkable recently, but there are also problems. Many young people are fleeing and leaving their homeland. What can you tell us about this? How do you assess the attitude of the Kurdish youth in this period?

The attitude of the youth was good and positive during this period. The youth took an active part in the development of the freedom movement. Starting with the World Youth Conference in Europe; the youth played a leading role during demonstrations both in the diaspora and in the four provinces of Kurdistan. They developed effective actions by themselves, and especially during the month of March, they left their mark with their actions. On 8 March, young women were at the forefront. On Newroz, again, the youth were at the forefront. The will of the youth was also strongly demonstrated in the elections. The Kurdish youth showed that Kurdish society is a young society, that they are conscious, educated, insistent, and determined on a free life, on struggling, and being selfless. They are a Apoist youth. Therefore, no attack can stop them or break their will. They have revealed and demonstrated this. In the past, they did not struggle against special warfare attacks effectively, they failed to grasp organizational unity; they were not so resistant. Many young people were hit or abducted. We observed this in the press. But the youth have to reflect on themselves more. When one gets abducted by the enemy, why was he/she strolling around, alone, in the first place? If they have guns, why don’t you? You live in a world where the enemy is armed and determined to destroy you. What do you expect? That’s how to approach it.

Also, displacement is part of the enemy’s special warfare policy. Special warfare is not always waged using the same methods, this differentiates depending on conditions. Those forces implementing special warfare are practicing genocide; they are changing the demographic structure. They commit massacres, cultural genocide, and assimilation. They attack with genocidal methods, from forcing migration and changing demographics to displacement from the motherland. One needs to be very aware of this: Why do so many Kurdish youth go abroad when there is such a great struggle for freedom in one’s own country? We cannot reduce this to oppression, persecution, and fascist terror. If you are young, you have a duty to struggle. There are so many young people struggling and proving every day that this is possible. I call on the youth. Join the guerrilla, come to the mountains. Organize, organize secretly, and go underground. Do whatever may be necessary, but remain in your homeland and live in your country. If something small happens, if police want to arrest you, this should not be a reason to immediately leave the country and run away. This is not the way; it is not legitimate.

We shouldn’t expect too much from other places. There are claims that job opportunities are better in Europe, that so and so is better there. We all went to Europe. When I was there, I told my lawyer that if they had deeded all of Germany to me, I wouldn’t stay for even a day. We shouldn’t emulate those places so much. It is important to be able to return to one’s own country. If the youth organize themselves a little bit better, they should be able to return to their country. If they are not working for the struggle for freedom in the places where they are, if they are not playing an important role, of course they should return to the country. If they are in prisons, they should join the struggle, join the guerrilla.

During our last interview, we drew attention to the fact that the German state was fighting the Turkish Republic’s fight. We said that Germany was detaining and trying Kurdish people, later sending them to France or Sweden so they would be deported to Turkey. The Turkish state alone does not have the power to do such a thing, it requires the voluntary participation of the German state. After we said this during an interview, the German state directly deported someone to Turkey. If it is because of us, I cannot say anything.

More than ten years ago, they massacred Sakine4 in the middle of Paris. Two years ago, they massacred comrade Evîn5 in the middle of Paris. Everything could be expected from those who commit such massacres in plain sight. We will ensure our own security. We will be careful where we are. We will not entrust ourselves to others, hoping that they will protect us. We will not be comfortable and think that it is safe for us there. This needs to be emphasized.

Why were these massacres committed, why were they never officially clarified? France is covering it all up. They are cooperating, they are a partner in interest and bargaining. They have turned politics into trade. Their reality must be exposed and fought against. We need to take our own precautions. They have been keeping Rêber Apo in a system of solitary confinement and torture for 26 years. They murdered Sakine in Paris in the middle of the day. Those who do this are ready to do anything. So we must understand what they are capable of and develop our own measures. Especially the Kurdish youth should be more sensitive, organized and know how to approach correctly.

Finally, we want to look at the escalating situation in the Middle East. What do you have to say about the current situation and what is your perspective?

Iran has attacked Israel. Everyone says it was expected, since Iran had announced that it would retaliate. We are observing the situation, gathering information on it and based on this we evaluate and discuss. Our leadership announces the evaluation of our movement to the public when necessary. So that which we express, is our joint evaluation.

In light of the current circumstances, I would like to state briefly that it appears to be the start of a second Gaza War. This process of invading and massacring the people of Gaza was initiated through a variety of provocations and games. Both Tayyip Erdogan and Hamas played a part in this. However, the USA and Israel are the ones responsible. We’ve said this before. The victims are the people of Gaza. Some of those third parties became involved in order to obstruct the energy path, while others did so in order to remove the obstacles that stood in the way of it. They therefore provoked one another. They therefore paved the way for Israel to invade Gaza, carry out these atrocities, and overthrow its government. It appears that the same thing is being attempted to be done now. Iran is now being used as a pretext, just as Tayyip Erdogan and Hamas were used back then. I believe that Israel is laying the groundwork for future assaults against specific elements in Gaza and other regions by indulging in tension and conflict with Iran.

Iran carried out the most recent strike, but the Israeli and Turkish governments have prepared a major provocation in an attempt to lure Iran into this conflict, which has lasted for more than six months. Iran was drawn into the war by the Turkish press, particularly that of Erdogan’s administration and the AKP press. The Israeli government has acted in a comparable manner. This was the extent of its most recent attack on the Syrian embassy. In fact, the Iranian leadership has been acting sensibly in response to all of these provocations in the recent past. Put otherwise, he wasn’t too provoked.

Iran handled the consulate attack in Syria with this stance. It has already made it clear that it will retaliate. And it retaliated in the form of a show of force. It did not really matter what the results were in this retaliation attack. Nevertheless, Israel and Iran are now clashing. In this way, Iran is being drawn into the conflict. These parties generally conduct attacks externally, to gain strength internally. For example, the AKP administration, Tayyip Erdogan, used all the Hamas and Palestine propaganda to gain votes during elections. He did it purely as a tool of domestic politics. Now the Netanyahu administration is trying to draw Iran into the conflict, to create the grounds for further attacks on Gaza. Iran’s attack was a bit like that. It seems to be more about pleasing the Iranian society or its supporters, giving them the gift of success, rather than striking a blow against the other side.

We are against this kind of war. We are against imperialist wars, colonialist, occupying, and genocidal wars. Problems cannot be solved on this basis. We believe that democratic politics is the solution to all social problems created and accumulated in the Middle East over the past five thousand years. We underline that the solution project is Democratic Confederalizm based on Democratic Autonomy. Rêber Apo developed these concepts as a new paradigm and put it to the service of the people with the program he defined theoretically. He has produced an ideology, politics, project and program that will end all these wars and solve the problems. We want the peoples to develop their own will, to learn organization, to become conscious. Let them have more say over their own lives. Let them bring democracy where they are. Let them not allow such monist states, nation-state dictatorships to exist and oppress them. Accordingly, it is necessary that the true solidarity of the peoples is established. Therefore, democratic people’s administrations should emerge. On this basis a Democratic Middle East Confederalizm should emerge. This is our solution project. It has become clear that all other approaches will lead to war, conflict, massacre and tears.

Our call is to all the peoples of the region. Let’s face this reality, nationalism, bigotry and other similar concepts will not get us anywhere. Solidarity, a democratic attitude, Democratic Autonomy and Democratic Confederalizm form the solution. We can all live in this beautiful region, in the Middle East, under democratic administrations and in solidarity. There is room for everyone to live in these lands where humanity stems from, and where sociality was developed – the place that was once called paradise. We need to get away from this ravenous hunger, this gluttony, this excessive exploitation. This is against the morals, culture and history of the people of the Middle East. So, we say let us turn to our history. Our call is on this basis. With all forces acting on this basis, we will struggle until the end to create the Democratic Middle East Confederalizm, the democratic unity of the peoples of the Middle East. On this basis, we greet everyone who joins this struggle and wish them success.


1 Referring to Kurdish peoples leader Abdullah Öcalan.

2 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.

3 The Anfal operation was a genocide between 1986 and 1989 carried out by the Iraqi Baath regime under Saddam Hussein against the Kurdish population and other minorities such as the Assyrians and Chaldeans in southern Kurdistan/northern Iraq.

4 Sakine Cansız (nom de guerre: Sara) was a pioneer of the Kurdish women’s movement and co-founder of the PKK. She and two other female comrades fell victim to a Turkish assassination in Paris on January 9, 2013.

5 Emine Kara (nom de guerre: Evîn Goyî) was a pioneer of the Kurdish women’s and freedom movement. She and two other Kurdish activists fell victim to a Turkish assassination in Paris on December 23, 2022.