our interviews

february 09, 2024

To begin with, I would like to ask you to take a look back. The Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan has been held in complete isolation on the prison island of Imrali for almost 25 years. What can you tell us about these 25 years, about Öcalan’s resistance, but also about the resistance outside of Imrali?

On the occasion of the upcoming anniversary of the international conspiracy1, first and foremost, I would like to send my grateful and respectful greetings to Rêber Apo2 who has shown great resistance in the prison of Imrali 25 years, representing the will of the peoples, the will of the Kurdish people. On the 25th anniversary of the conspiracy, we condemn the conspirators and promise once again that we will hold the conspirators to account and that we will liberate both Rêber Apo and the Kurdish people.

These 25 years have indeed been a historic time for the leader of a people. 25 years! Being in prison for 25 years and representing the will of this people honorably and worthily in prison for 25 years is very extraordinary, a very important stance. For 25 years Rêber Apo has been under constant special warfare attacks, under attacks of a psychological war. All kinds of psychological pressure is being exerted on him. But still, despite all this pressure Rêber Apo never gave in and never surrendered. He did not complain that there is “such and such” pressure” or persecution. He acted with the awareness that he was taking revenge against the war waged by the genocidal colonialism. In the same time he also gave a message and told us: “You are the ones being imprisoned”. He said this for the Kurdish people, for all the peoples and societies that did not achieve a free and democratic life. He revealed that even though he was in prison, he was free with his stance and thought, that he never gave up his stance of freedom, and that he never lived a second outside the rule of freedom.

In this respect, Rêber Apo’s 25-year struggle is really worth analyzing and examining. What emotions did he experience? How did he spend his days? What was he concentrating on and what did he want to do for the success of the freedom struggle of the people, for the success of the freedom struggle of humanity, for the liberation of women from the male-dominated system? It is really necessary to research and document these, to put them in writing, to make them the subject of novels, literature, research and analysis. Because the conditions under which Rêber Apo lived are very severe. He was kept in a solitary cell on an island. Later, some other comrades were brought to the island too as prisoners. But before, he was always in solitary confinement on an island.

He once stated: “I am standing firm here, I am carrying out the resistance in order to realize the aspirations of those who gave their lives in the struggle waged under the slogan of ‘You cannot darken our sun'”. He said that he took great strength from the resistance under this slogan. On this occasion, I would also like to gratefully and respectfully commemorate all the people who took action under the slogan “You cannot darken our sun” in Europe, Turkey and all over the world. They protected Rêber Apo while the conspiracy was being carried out and put up a great struggle. Today, if the conspirators have not succeeded, if the great struggle against the conspiracy has to some extent been rendered ineffective, it is because of the efforts of these people. They should always be remembered. Again, I commemorate with those resisting in the prisons, those who put their lives on the line fighting against the pressures on Rêber Apo in 2018 and 20193.

Today, once again a great resistance is being put forward in the prisons for the freedom of Rêber Apo. I also commemorate with respect and gratitude Comrade Viyan4, who took a stand against the captivity of Rêber Apo. She openly said, “There is no life without Rêber Apo”. She revealed an attitude against the captivity of Rêber Apo that all humanity, our people, militants and everyone should show.

Rêber Apo defined 15 February as the “Day of the Kurdish Genocide” and today, as every year, fasts are being carried out. I believe that all our people will continue this tradition and fast on 15 February as well.

For 25 years, neither our people nor our comrades in prison have remained silent against the captivity of Rêber Apo. They have indeed engaged in a great struggle for the freedom of Rêber Apo. There will soon be a big rally in Europe on 17 February for the freedom of Rêber Apo and for the Kurdish people to attain a free and democratic life. There is also a big march in North Kurdistan5 right now. There was a campaign launched with the slogan ‘Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan, a Political Solution to the Kurdish Question’. Today, North Kurdistan is organizing big marches within this framework. On 17 February, all Kurds should participate in the march in Cologne. Kurds from England, Sweden, all over Europe, Canada, Australia, wherever there are Kurds they should go to Cologne. They must show the attitude of the Kurdish people for the freedom of Rêber Apo. They must show what Rêber Apo means to the Kurdish people. I believe that these actions of resistance will have important results. I send my respectful greetings to all those organizing and participating in these actions.

The conspiracy against Rêber Apo expresses a purpose. The conspirators thought that if they took Rêber Apo in captivity, they would separate the head from the body and thus liquidate the body in time. They acted with such an approach. They considered the imprisonment of Rêber Apo as the liquidation of the freedom of the Kurdish people and the liquidation of the PKK. They had such an approach, because in history there have been Kurdish revolts, Kurdish resistances, and almost always their leaders were captured and executed, and then they crushed and liquidated all those resistances and the effects of that resistance within society.

Again in the 1970s, they executed the leaders of the revolutionary movement and then crushed the movement itself. The Turkish state thought that such a result would be achieved with the captivity of Rêber Apo as well. They believed in this. Indeed, with the captivity of Rêber Apo, the international powers were already saying “there will be no PKK anymore after 6 months”. Turkish state officials already claimed that they had “finished their job” via the captivity of Rêber Apo. They had expressed this many times.

There was Ertuğrul Özkök; he was the Editor-in-Chief of the news paper Hürriyet. He used to say: “War axes buried in the ground will never come up again.” Important generals were saying, “History will say that the biggest organization in the world is the PKK, but it will also say that the Turkish army, the Turkish state suppressed it”. Such assessments were being made in ’99.

From that day to today, 25 years have passed. Rêber Apo has grown, our movement has grown, and the struggle of our people has grown. Our people embrace RêberApo today more since that day. As the international conspirators and the Turkish state thought, their calculations that the organization and the people would break away from Rêber Apo did not work. Yes, it is true; liquidationism emerged immediately after the conspiracy. Liquidationism was actually a situation created by the international conspiracy. It was part of it, it was a formation they created. But they quickly lost their ground in the movement. It is known how they went down in history.

Very intense pressure was exerted on our people. But our people are always standing up for Rêber Apo. The conspirators failed in this aspect. The conspiracy could not achieve its goals. Yes, Rêber Apo is still in captivity, we have not yet liberated Rêber Apo, but we have frustrated the aims of the conspirators. The international conspirators have not achieved their goals. Today our movement is loyal to Rêber Apo, our people are loyal to Rêber Apo. The number of Rêber Apo’s international friends has increased even more. Rêber Apo’s reputation has increased even more. When we compare the reputation of Rêber Apo during the conspiracy period with his current reputation, we see that the impact of Rêber Apo’s reputation, the impact of his ideological power on the people, on the organization, on humanity is much greater then before. Everyone accepts this. In this respect, the situation has not materialized as they had planned.

The paradigm of our leadership is really important. It is the product of Rêber Apo’s life in the prison. It reveals how valuable life in prison can be. In history there are examples of great loneliness, seclusion and concentration in prisons. As a result of that concentration, there are thoughts, prescriptions for salvation and calls for humanity. Rêber Apo also entered such a concentration in imprisonment. As soon as he arrived on Imrali, he directly asked himself, “How can I take revenge on these conspirators?”, “How can I frustrate these conspirators?”, “How can I hold these conspirators to account?”. Here, Rêber Apo’s way of holding to account revealed a paradigm that eliminated the ideological foundations, the historical foundations and the reasons for the existence of those who carried out this conspiracy. And thus he really took the greatest revenge in history. He took revenge on the 5000-year-old male-dominated statist system. This is very important. He saved humanity from the statist mentality, from the statist hegemony. Rêber Apo destroyed and shook this statist hegemony, the hegemony of this statist ideology. Now the ruling classes and the statist system are facing the beginning of the end. With the paradigm of Rêber Apo, an ideological move, an ideological breakthrough has taken place that will bring the end of this statist system. This is very important. At the moment, the historical significance of this is being revealed, and step by step it will be understood even more. Again, he put forward an ideology that overthrew the male-dominated system over women. He put forward a stance, a paradigm that liberates women from the male-dominated system. This is very important.

Also there are great crimes against nature taking place. Humanity co-exists with nature, society co-exists with nature, but the statist system, especially the forces of capitalist modernity, have severely damaged the bond between society and nature. A complete opposition to nature has emerged. This anti-nature is actually anti-human, anti-society. Rêber Apo put forward a very strong ideological stance against this. While isolation was being imposed on Rêber Apo, while he was wanted to be cut off from humanity, from society, from everyone, he, with this intensification, revealed an important attitude against this male-dominated statist system. He has created an important development. The consequences of this will be very great. Rêber Apo’s paradigm is a milestone for humanity. His solution will indeed destroy that sovereign-exploitative system. It will destroy the statist system. Undoubtedly, Marx, Engels and classical socialists and socialist leaders have also made very important evaluations. They put forward an important attitude against capitalism, against the exploitative system. However, they could not overcome statism. Statism, the state, is a system that brings exploitation into existence and ensures the continuation of that exploitation. With this paradigm, Rêber Apo actually took a very big step for socialists. He liberated socialists and social thought from the statist mentality.

All this will of course be valued, will be valued even more and will spread to the whole of humanity. This thought has now spread, is being spread, read and learned. Especially women are very excited about it. The conception of the ‘Democratic Nation’6 offers a great power of solution against nationalist religious conflicts. It is already a great ideology of liberation for the Kurds. Kurds can only attain their freedom with the understanding of the Democratic Nation, with this paradigm. Narrow nationalist approaches, let alone leading the Kurds to freedom, confront them with genocide. Rêber Apo’s understanding of the Democratic Nation, his understanding of a solution based on the sibling-hood of peoples, and his attitude towards this statist understanding will definitely lead the Kurdish people to a free and democratic life by saving the Kurdish people and the freedom struggle from the deadlock.

In this respect, the Kurdish people will attach great value to this idea of Rêber Apo, they will embrace it, and they already do. Humanity also embraces it. As this paradigm becomes widespread, the face of the world will change. As the thoughts of Rêber Apo spread, the horizon of humanity will expand. Today’s despair will be shattered. Humanity will have a great hope, and in pursuit of this hope, in pursuit of the paradigm that creates this hope, they will struggle and follow it, and they will lead themselves to a free and democratic life.

With the beginning of the conspiracy against Rêber Apo, the martyrs who built a barricade of fire around Rêber Apo with their actions under the slogan of “You cannot darken our sun”, who started a great resistance, revealed how the struggle to liberate the Rêber Apo should be, what its line and standards should be. In this respect, it is based on a very strong foundation. By giving their lives, they have already revealed what must be done to realize the freedom of Rêber Apo. In a way, their resistance and stance was an instruction for all of us, for all our people. Since then, great sacrifices have been made. Young people, women, men, old people sacrifice themselves for Rêber Apo. We are going through such a history of struggle.

Today, this 25-year struggle has reached new heights. On 10 October, the campaign ‘Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan, a Political Solution to the Kurdish Question’ developed. Book-reading events were held so that the paradigm of Rêber Apo is better understood. There is currently an important march in the cities of Northern Kurdistan. All these show that the struggle for the freedom of Rêber Apo has gained an important level. At the moment, the struggle for the freedom of Rêber Apo is no longer an ordinary struggle. It has become a fundamental struggle for the Kurdish people and in the international arena, humanity and democratic forces are waging a great struggle for the freedom of Rêber Apo. Now this is on the agenda of our people, on the agenda of humanity, and on the agenda of all kinds of democratic forces. Gradually, this campaign and struggle for the freedom of Rêber Apo will gain a level unprecedented in history. It has gained an important level especially with the participation of women, youth, socialists and all democrats who want to get rid of the state system. On this occasion, I respectfully greet all the international friends participating in this campaign and I salute all our people.

This struggle must be continued uninterruptedly. Because the freedom of Rêber Apo is the freedom of the Kurdish people. All this pressure and persecution on Rêber Apo is to realize genocide on the Kurdish people. There is a direct link between the freedom of the Kurdish people and the freedom of Rêber Apo. Moreover, a people cannot gain its freedom if it does not claim its leadership. How can a people who do not embrace their leader gain freedom? A people that does not claim its leader cannot deserve freedom. In this respect, our friends, humanity must embrace this leadership for a free and democratic life. Free and democratic life cannot develop strongly in the world without embracing this leadership. I would like to take this opportunity to once again greet all those who support this campaign. They are really doing great work. They are true friends of our people. They are true friends of humanity. They will be remembered as the honor of humanity in the future. The intellectuals, democrats, socialists, philosophers who struggle for the liberation of Rêber Apo today will take their place in history in the future as the most valuable people of humanity, as those who show the most valuable attitude.

There has been an embrace of the prison resistances since the past. Even in the 1980s, when we were in prison, our families really embraced it. The current embrace of this resistance by the families is based on the embrace of the families in the 80s. It is the continuation of that tradition. Even then, our families were under pressure, tortured, detained, beaten and insulted at the prison gates. But they did not give up on their resistance and did not give up protecting their children. Indeed, this is a resistance that will be written in history. This great resistance continues from then till now.

In this respect, all our people should embrace these families. These are the honorable people of our struggle. Despite all the pressures, they do not stop. They did not give up fighting for the future of their children. The genocidal Turkish state exiled and tortured their children driving them away to the farthest places, but they still embraced them. Here we saw in 2018 and 2019 how the police were punching our elderly mothers, pushing them and dragging them on the roads. In the face of all this, they did not give up the resistance. They embrace it today too. This is important. Families embrace it, but it is not enough for only some families to embrace it. The whole people must embrace them. Because our comrades in prison embrace the leader of this people. By embracing the leader of this people, they are fighting for the freedom of the people.

These friends, these comrades, these people were locked up there as a result of their efforts for the freedom of the Kurdish people. They are being tortured in prisons for the Kurdish people. They are serving from 20 years to 30 years for the free and democratic life of the Kurdish people. In the most difficult conditions, without complaining once, without questioning their choices, they reveal their stance in the prison. After 30 years, they come out of prison. They show the same stance again.

Some comrades have been imprisoned for 30 years and even though their sentences have been completed the government still does not release them. The government forces our comrades to sign clauses7 stating that they regret their crimes. Again our comrades show no regret, they represent the will of this people in prison. In this respect, all our people, democrats, must protect the families of these prisoners, they must not leave them alone. They are the honor of the people. Mothers of peace and mothers of prisoners are the pillars of our revolution. They are a source of morale.

One year ago, a devastating earthquake struck Northern Kurdistan, Turkey and Syria. Tens of thousands, probably even hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives, many more were injured and lost everything they possessed. Now, after one year, the impact of the earthquake and the failing of the state can easily be observed and the people are taking to the streets to hold the failed policy of the government to account. How do you assess this situation and what do you want to say to the people? Also especially in regard of the upcoming local elections in Turkey.

First of all, I would like to commemorate those who lost their lives in the earthquake west of the Euphrates in Northern Kurdistan and in Hatay, Syria. I wish condolences to their families.

It was indeed a severe earthquake. Especially the Kurds west of the Euphrates were very much affected. Alevi Arabs in Hatay and of course the Turkish people were also affected. It was a big earthquake. I can say this; if such an earthquake had happened elsewhere and the government did nothing during the first four to five days, the government there would have lost power. The people would have destroyed that state.

The earthquake was of high magnitude. If we add up the statistics for provinces west of the Euphrates and Syria, over twenty million people were affected. It caused great trauma and pain. As always, the Turkish state played with numbers. They played with numbers during the Corona epidemic, they played with numbers during the earthquakes, they play with numbers during the war. This is disrespectful. Supposedly, if the government released the real numbers this would create bad publicity or demoralize the public.

The more the facts are revealed, the more caution will be taken, the more accountability there will be. If the facts are not revealed, of course the accountability and evaluation will not be on an effective level. Now there are estimates that around 200 thousand people have died. The other day, Murat Kurum8 blurted it out; he said 150 thousand died. He tried to conceal this later, but the words had already left his mouth. They said it themselves; they called it “the biggest earthquake of the century”.

The person responsible for such a high death toll during the earthquake was the Minister at the time. Erdoğan was praising him, he was doing this on TV. They claimed to have made zoning amnesties in Maraş, Malatya, Adıyaman and in Hatay. They sold coffins to the people. The Minister caused the death of between 150 to 200 thousand people. And then he just left, he didn’t take responsibility. They just left the people to die. There was appropriation in some places, but of course they only took care of ten percent. Nearly eighty-ninety percent of those effected were out in the open, and in some places this still has not changed. This is why the earthquake has become so painful.

One feels great anger seeing the attitude in Turkey against the earthquake. Anger at seeing the pain of those people. Is it possible to not hear their cries? In Turkey, twenty million people were affected. The entire population in many states are only four to five million. The severity of the situation is of such magnitude.

During the time, the people showed solidarity. Some civil societies took upon themselves to provide aid for those in need. Young people stepped up. Here in Kurdistan, a large percentage of people went to help. They went from the east of the Euphrates to help the Arabs and Alawites in the west. They protected the Kurds and the Arabs once again.

The Kurds really suffered a lot from this earthquake west of the Euphrates. In this respect, this earthquake should not be forgotten. To make the people forget, the government promises to build more houses, mocking the sufferings of the people. The people are being mocked. What’s important is that is to prevent deaths, to not leave people to die or to not put them in danger because of the houses that are being built, as we have seen in the past. Are preventative measures not being taken everywhere else in the world?

The AKP government is responsible for the losses in the earthquake. An earthquake may occur naturally, but precautions are taken against natural disasters, precautions are taken against floods, precautions are taken against fires, precautions are taken against earthquakes. Today, precautions against earthquakes have become very advanced. There was an earthquake in Chile too, but they built an urban system that is resistant to all kinds of earthquakes. It is the same in Japan. They have taken measures in places where the most severe earthquakes occur. Turkey is also on the fault zone, but the AKP government, as I mentioned earlier, uses even earthquake taxes to its own benefit. It has distributed these taxes to its own cronies making them rich. They distributed these funds to contractors, saying “We have built this road and that road.” First, take measures to save people’s lives. In this respect and of course, this government is guilty, Erdoğan is the main culprit.

Then Murat Kurum, the Istanbul mayoral candidate is also guilty. But the opposition has also taken a very weak approach. They should raise hell against those responsible. They should have made it louder, clearer and more explicit that this government is responsible for these deaths. They should have made it clear that the people should hold them accountable. The opposition failed. And when the opposition was threatened, they softened their criticisms even more. In this respect, the memory of those who lost their lives in this earthquake was not honored. As a requirement of being loyal to their memory, those responsible should have been held accountable for their crimes.

Tens of thousands died under the rubble, under rocks and concrete. Not knowing whether they would die one hour or six, they suffered there, waiting for death. And no one came to their aid. Because there was no organization to save them. The AFAD9 was never there and no one even criticized this. There is still a very slack approach. This issue should not be taken off the agenda, it should not be let go. It needs to be grabbed by the collar. It was not exposed well even in the May elections. Even in the May elections, this was the issue that would expose the AKP government the most, it was not done. This question still needs to be addressed.

Now we are nearing the local elections. What has been done to the localities? The government forced a centralized system leaving no local administration. Everyone should think about this when going to local elections: What is their understanding of local governance? Does such a system give the people a will? Do the cities act on their own will? Does the municipality have a will? Is the society organized there? Authorities will not come from Ankara to save Maraş or Hatay. This should also have been questioned.

One of the reasons for the many deaths is this centralized, statist system in Turkey. Turkey used to have this system in the past. This AKP-MHP government has worsened it, making it become even more centralized. Almost every official looks to Erdoğan’s mouth. The opposition also failed to embrace people in this earthquake.

The Kurdish people were tormented and destroyed. In a way, after the implementation of the ‘Eastern Reform Plan’, this earthquake served as a final blow. With the Eastern Reform Plan, it was aimed to completely expel the Kurds from the west of the Euphrates, to remove them from Kurdistan, to make the west of the Euphrates completely Kurdless. After the massacre in Maraş, the policy the government had been carrying out aimed to force the people west of the Euphrates to migrate to metropolises, especially England and generally Europe. It paved the way for demographic change. The MIT10 allowed smugglers to be set free, allowing them to freely take people away. They convinced people out of the west of the Euphrates and took them to Europe for supposed economic problems. There was no such economic problem. That’s not true. If the reason for driving people away was economic hardship let this be investigated. Many Kurdish villages west of the Euphrates are more beautiful and fertile than Turkish villages. But there was no population decrease in any of the Turkish villages. But Kurdish villages have been emptied. So this has nothing to do with it. It has nothing to do with the economy. It is purely a state policy, a policy of de-Kurdification. This is clear.

Now, with this earthquake, Alevi Kurds have started to migrate more to metropolises and to Europe. The state has taken this as an opportunity. Even from this, one could understand the character of this state better. The government has encouraged this migration. The Alevi Kurds west of the Euphrates and the Alevi Arabs in Hatay need to be protected. Taking advantage of the earthquake, the state is implementing a policy of de-Kurdification and de-Arabization, this must be prevented. This is part of the Kurdish people’s struggle for freedom. Otherwise, this is a policy of genocide. Changing demography, de-Kurdification, expelling Kurds from their homeland and dividing them by distributing them around the world is the state’s policy.

From this point of view, I believe that all Kurds, both here, in Europe and around the rest of the world, should help the Kurds and the Kurdish villages west of the Euphrates that have been damaged by the earthquake, revitalize those villages and protect their Kurdish identity. This is everyone’s duty, conscientious duty, moral duty, patriotic duty. On this occasion, I also think that those who left their villages because of the earthquake should return to their villages.

The other day I heard that Tacim Baba died in Ankara. He went to Ankara after the earthquake and died there. This is the reality of the earthquake. I wish him God’s mercy. He sang really beautiful Kurdish songs. By singing Kurdish songs, he was taking a stance within the Kurdish question, against the Kurdish genocide. After the earthquake, he left his village where he had lived for 80 years despite all the pressure he had faced and passed away in Ankara.

There have been many earthquakes in Turkey. What is the cause of these earthquakes? We need to know why these earthquakes happen. Why do social earthquakes happen? In order to suppress the freedom of the Kurdish people, to suppress the Kurdish people’s struggle for freedom, to put the Kurds through genocide. The fabric of society is being played with. Society is being made anti-Kurdish, anti-human. There are little social values left in society, little moral values left. They are turning the whole society into a mass that will carry out the Kurdish genocide. This is the cause of the social earthquake, crisis and deterioration.

There is a cultural earthquake in Turkey. While people of culture should be humane, democratic, oppose injustice and oppression, even artists are being oppressed so that Kurds are brought to a stage where they cannot breathe. Artists are prevented from opposing oppression, persecution and injustice. Artists are being silenced. An artist is a person who expresses their conscience. One who will oppose oppression, oppose persecution, oppose injustice, stand by those who are wronged. Now they are suppressing the artists who oppose injustice. There really is a cultural earthquake in Turkey right now. There is a cultural earthquake and crisis.

There is no real art or artist. Art and artist means speaking out against the rulers, objecting, rebelling, revealing the conscience of the people. Now art and artists have become the trumpet of the government. This is where problems stem from.

The cause of the economic earthquake is obvious. It is the war, the war against the Kurds. So is the judicial earthquake. The reason is to suppress the Kurdish people’s struggle for freedom. They don’t leave the slightest crumb of democracy so that the Kurds do not benefit. The problem is not Can Atalay11, if the Kurdish freedom struggle was not at this level or if the state did not have such an antidemocratic understanding to suppress the Kurdish people’s freedom struggle, there would not be such an approach to Can Atalay.

An earthquake is still rattling the state, it does not recognize its own constitution. The reason for this is that if there is the slightest democratic right, if there is a breath of air, the Kurds will benefit. This needs to be understood. All intellectuals, democrats and politicians in Turkey need to see this reality. Without seeing this reality, correct politics cannot be done. Correct politics cannot be produced. The right words cannot be spoken. The truth will be avoided. If the truth is not to be avoided, if the truth is to be told, it must be revealed that the source of all these earthquakes, all the problems, all the crises is the lack of a solution to the Kurdish question, that these crises have emerged in order to suppress and crush the Kurds.

There is a judicial crisis, there is no judiciary right now. I can say this; the judiciary of today has something which the fascist courts of September 12th did not have. Even during the fascist coup, the soldiers paid attention, to some extent, to certain measures. Now it is not like that. Now everything is done through orders. There is no court, there is no constitution. There is only a palace with a special warfare center inside, and there is a certain circle ruling. Whatever they say will happen, and it does. There is no such thing as a court deciding, a court evaluating, nothing like that. Maybe there are some crimes in ordinary society, for example theft. Maybe the court may be functioning in those cases. But on very important issues, there is absolutely no judiciary or court in Turkey.

Local elections are important. Democracy starts from a local level. If there is local will, there is democracy. If there is a democratic administration, democratic behavior and democratic culture in the localities, we can talk about democracy. In this respect, local elections are important. Local governments, which will be the source of democracy or the foundation of democracy, will be elected. Undoubtedly, the law on local governments in Turkey is very limited. Despite having very little authority, local governments are still important in terms of expressing the will of the people. Because in the past in Kurdistan, elected local administrators, co-mayors of municipalities have played an important role. They demonstrated democratic culture and democratic belief. They did not seek profit, they listened to the voice of the people. Of course, although it had not reached the desired level yet, a very important local government experience has emerged. It is important in this respect.

Addressing the current election process, let me state that it was very important to hold pre-elections in Kurdistan. This was important for the development of the understanding and culture of local democracy. It was also important for the people to take ownership of politics. Politics is about people taking ownership of their own affairs and thinking about their own affairs. Otherwise, politics is not about letting someone you don’t know being elected as an MP or president. Democratic politics is about the people taking ownership and being involved in their own affairs. This is how democratic politics should be understood.

In this respect, the pre-elections were important. The people took ownership, created excitement and enthusiasm. Of course there were some shortcomings. It is understood that there was a lack of preparation. But we saw that the Kurdish people have a democratic culture, that they embraced such a democratic experience, that they were excited and participated in the elections with enthusiasm. This is an important achievement for the Kurdish people, for the Kurdish people’s struggle for freedom, for the democratic future of the Kurdish people. In this respect, we congratulate them for their efforts in this direction. It was a good experience. It was really important, it was also an example for Turkey.

Kurdish politics, Kurdish democratic politics is already setting an example for Turkey. The paradigm of Rêber Apo is an example for Turkey, an example for the world. There was the co-presidency project, half of the MPs are formed of women. These have set an example for Turkey, putting pressure on classic Turkish politics. While the Kurds who are being portrayed as backward are becoming so democratized, having a co-presidency system, while half of their MPs are women, it is clear that male-dominated politics are still precedented in Turkey. I was listening to Özgür Özel12 a while ago. He said, “We have appointed so many women mayors in Izmir. There were none in the past, we are taking this many young people into the administration, we are taking women into the administration.” All of these are the fruit of our struggle. It is the effect created by Kurdish democratic politics.

In this respect, it was an important effort. The importance of politics for Kurds in parliamentary elections, presidential elections and local elections is this: will it develop democratization or not? Will it strengthen democracy? Will there be a struggle against genocidal colonial fascism or not? Will it push them back or not? This is an attitude for the development of democracy. It is a struggle against the Kurdish genocide policy of genocidal colonial fascism. For Kurds, this is the measure of politics. This is the measure to be considered.

The right attitude is to evaluate how much they are developing democratization and how much they are developing democracy. Because democracy is as necessary for Kurds as bread and water. The solution to the Kurdish question develops through democratization. Every day democratic solutions and democratic politics are being discussed. How will a democratic solution come? It will come with democratization. It will come with the development of democracy. Otherwise, someone will not suddenly think of a solution to the Kurdish question. If there is democratization, steps in this direction will develop. We need to see it like this. Of course this election will also be part of the struggle for democracy.

For the Kurdish people, it is very important to be in alliance with the people of Turkey and the democratic forces of Turkey and to act together with them. It must be known that the solution to the Kurdish question lies here. In this respect, for a long time, especially within the framework of Rêber Apo’s approaches and perspectives, Kurds have always formed alliances with democratic forces, socialist forces, and social segments that have an interest in democracy. Recently, the ‘Labor and Freedom Alliance‘ as established. These are important. We need to embrace them. This is how democratic politics and democratization will come.

By allying with democratic forces and socialists, the struggle for democracy will develop with a joint attitude, struggle and alliance of the two most dynamic democratic forces in Turkey, the Kurds and the Alevis. We must pay attention to this during the elections. Kurds should pay attention first and foremost. Everyone should be sensitive about alliances and partnerships. Mostly the Kurds because the Kurds need it. Kurds need democratization and the development of democracy the most. They are paying a great price for this. For 50 years a great price has been paid.

In this respect, of course, both the democratic forces in Turkey and the democratic forces in Kurdistan should cooperate, strengthen their alliances, embrace the existing alliances, and carry out this struggle by valuing the existing alliances.

Some circles may block alliances, they may denigrate alliances. Kurdish people should not listen to them. Those who denigrate the alliances are not friends of the Kurds. They do not want the well-being of the Kurds, they do not want Turkey to democratize. They want the Kurds to be left alone. The Kurds have never benefited from nationalist approaches that are not democratic, that are not in favor of democracy, that do not have a democratic understanding, that do not think about the brotherhood of peoples. In this respect, Kurds should develop their main approach in democratic politics and in this election process in line with the development of democracy and democratization.

Historic actions were made by the Guerrilla in January. After these actions, the devastation of the Turkish state was evident on the partisan channels of the AKP-MHP government. After the actions, the people on those channels did not know what they were saying. They were so out of balance! They were arguing about who gave the guerrilla information, who supported them, who gave them this and that. They were really showing themselves by talking such nonsense. Then we realized that they were very surprised. They were devastated, they suffered a big blow.

Our guerrillas have been in this struggle for 50 years. They have 50 years of experience. Which guerrilla movement in the world has 50 years of experience? Is there a guerrilla army that has fought as hard as our guerrillas? Is there a guerrilla force that has been fighting for 50 years against NATO’s second army, especially one like the Turkish state. Of course our experienced guerrilla have the capacity for action.

We also remind them of this. Rêber Apo says: “The greatest technique is human.” The Turkish army have all the techniques at their disposal. The guerrilla, on the other hand, is equipped with limited means. They take from here and there meanwhile the Turkish army get everything they want from all over the world. They gets everything, yet they cannot protect themselves. What are you talking about? Of course the guerrilla, the force of self-sacrifice with 50 years of experience will carry out such actions.

They say America has given the guerrilla information. It’s as if the guerrilla are carrying out such actions for the first time. It is obvious how many police stations have been raided, how many ambushes have been made. I’m saying this because they’ve lost control, the puppets of the Turkish government don’t know what they are saying. Instead of admitting guilt, they point fingers to the outside. If something happens, the cause is ‘others’. Of course, with this mindset, they cannot go anywhere.

Why is this war going on, why are the guerrilla making sacrifice actions? Because our 50-year struggle is the struggle of a colonized people. The mood of these young guerrillas when they go to war is obvious. Who can stand in front of them? The soldier is there out of fear, counting down days until their return from duty. How will they fight? Or maybe he is poor, he came there for money. How could they fight against such guerrillas.

Those actions really shook and stunned the Turkish state. After that they started vowing to do this and that “until not a single terrorist is left.” This is what they say. We have been asking a question for the past 50 years; who can take away the passion of freedom from these people?

The Kurdish people’s passion for freedom, their desire for freedom is obvious. The people’s passion for freedom creates the guerrilla. Could you kill such a passion? It is the result of a struggle of 50 years. All Kurdish people grew up in this war, saw this war, saw the sacrifice, saw their childrens’ struggle against colonialism. The government can shout and call as much as they want; Kurdish youth will resist. They can be prevented, limited, but they will overcome this. ‘Guerrilla’ means to overcome the enemy constantly with precautions. A guerillais someone who fights against a better equipped power with fewer means. As they say, asymmetric warfare, this is what guerrilla is. This is why the guerrilla are writing history.

The greatest technique is the human being. In other words, human effort and labor will and is frustrating the most advanced techniques being used against freedom. The guerrilla has struck and will strike significant blows. The guerrilla is not a force that will surrender to the shouts and calls of the Turkish army. The guerrilla is a sacrifice force, it has 50 years of experience, it has popular support. The hearts of 90 percent of the Kurdish people are in favor of the PKK. The hearts of Kurds in KDP13 areas are also in favor of the PKK. If they did not apply pressure on the people, the KDP could have seen for themselves that this is true. This is the reality. In the face of such a reality, of course that resistance will emerge.

A great struggle continued in 2023. This struggle will continue in 2024. Of course, the Turkish state uses every means and method to suppress this struggle. It has used chemical weapons extensively in the past. It used tactical nuclear bombs. The last time it used chemical weapons again; 5 of our comrades were martyred. I commemorate with gratitude and respect our comrades who were martyred in the chemical attacks, as well as our comrades who were martyred in all actions. Their sacrificial spirit will lead this struggle to success. With their actions, with their spirit of sacrifice, with their resistance, they are already the assurance and guarantee of this success. They demonstrate the invincibility of this struggle. From this point of view, 2023 was the year of the rise of the sacrifice forces. This will continue even more in 2024. We can state it like this.

Of course, the betrayal of the KDP continues. It is again trying to gain control of guerrilla areas, trying to cut the roads that will supply the guerrilla with supplies and ammunition. But the KDP helps the Turkish state, the Turkish army for everything tending even to their wounded soldiers. We are in such a reality. The KDP is working with the Turkish state to end the war with the supposed defeat of the guerrilla. This is not enough, the KDP and the Turkish state are now trying to drag the PUK14 into this. All these attacks are actually happening partly at the request of the KDP. They are trying to see if they can drag the PUK into this system. In this respect, just as the guerrilla struggle has responded to all pressures and attacks, it will continue in 2014 with the same stance.



Footnotes added by the translator:

1 This refers to the international complot against Abdullah Öcalan, which was initiated on October 9, 1998 and culminated on February 15, 1999 when Öcalan was unlawfully kidnapped to Turkey, where he has since been held on the prison island of Imrali in the Sea of Marmara. In the original interview in Turkish Karasu calls it ‘uluslararası komplo’, which literally translated means ‘inter-state komplo’ underlining the role of the states within it.

2 Abdullah Öcalan

3 Karasu refers to the great resistance, and particularly the hunger strike led by Leyla Güven, in the prison for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan.

4 Viyan Soran was a militant of the Kurdish freedom movement who burned herself in the south Kurdish region of Heftanîn on February 1, 2006 in protest against the concept of annihilation against the Kurdish people and the associated isolation of Abdullah Öcalan.

5 According to the official state borders, Northern Kurdistan falls in southeastern Turkey.

6 The concept ‘Democratic Nation’ is one of the central concept within the political philosophy of Abdullah Öcalan, opposing the common understanding of ‘nation’ and ‘state’ under the capitalist modernity.

7 Effective Remorse Law (Pişmanlık yasası) is applied when a person regrets the offence committed by his/her own free will and contributes to the criminal justice system with “positive” actions i.e. proving loyalty through a wide range of acts to the state and its laws.

8 Former Turkish Minister of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change and now Istanbul mayoral candidate

9 AFAD (Disaster and Emergency Management) – is a governmental disaster management agency operating under the Turkish Ministry of Interior.

10 MIT (National Intelligence Organization) – is the Turkish intelligence agency.

11 Can Atalay is a member of the , Workers Party of Turkey’ (TIP) and former MP, who was imprisoned in 2022 for his activity in the Gezi Protets.

12 Özgür Özel is the Chairman of the Turkish ‘Republican People’s Party’ (CHP).

13 KDP – Kurdistan Democratic Party

14 PUK – Patriotic Union of Kurdistan