our interviews

december 14, 2023

First of all, we would like to take a look at the leader of the Kurdish people, Abdullah Öcalan. What can you tell us about his situation? And in connection with his situation, what developments are there in Turkey?

Lately there was an earthquake in the Marmara region. The epicenter of this earthquake was in Gemlik and the Imrali island. In this situation, of course Rêber Apo’s [Abdullah Öcalan] lawyers wanted to meet him. But again they were not allowed to see him. There have been no meetings with Rêber Apo for almost three years. This shows the approach of the Turkish state towards Imrali and Rêber Apo. There is nothing alike in the world. They are giving disciplinary penalties of 3 months and 6 months on the basis of fabricated scenarios and then still dare to state things like: “We are a state of law. If there are no meetings in a state of law, it is because there is a punishment”. It is an approach that deceives and mocks everybody.

If there would have been an earthquake elsewhere, they would immediately show all the prisoners, convicts and let them meet with their families. But when it is about Imrali, even the law does not work. There is a one-man law. There is psychological warfare on the Kurdish people, psychological warfare on Imrali, more precisely, the genocidal war being waged on the Kurds is being waged from there. It is obvious how a state waging a genocidal war against a people approaches the leader of this people. The Turkish state approaches Rêber Apo the same way it approaches the Kurdish people. It does not accept the existence of the Kurdish people, so it does not accept the existence of a leader either. In this respect, we need to know where the policies of the Turkish state stem from. If we know how the Kurdish genocide works, if we know what practices the Turkish state has carried out for the Kurdish genocide for a hundred years, we will know what the practices in Imrali mean. In this respect, of course we see the genocidal Turkish state’s practices against Rêber Apo.

Of course, there is resistance against this. It is necessary to struggle against this. Otherwise, so without resistance, without developing the struggle, the freedom of Rêber Apo cannot be achieved and the isolation cannot be broken. Today there is a worldwide struggle for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo. The Turkish state is actually being forced, exposed and isolated. Everyone knows about the isolation, the way, the methods and pressure that is forced on Rêber Apo. There is no one left who does not know. The allies of the Turkish state know it, its friends know it. They are conducting this policy of oppression and isolation in Imrali in an environment known to the world. The other day Hakan Fidan said that the policy they are conducting is within Putin’s knowledge, within the knowledge of the Council of Europe, within the knowledge of the European Union. He is openly saying that it is the European Union, the European states that legitimize what they are doing. In other words, he is saying that they approve of this. This clearly shows that they are accomplices. It shows that the Council of Europe is an accomplice.

It is necessary to criticize the policies of the Turkish state and fight against it. It is necessary to take a stance against the Council of Europe, against the CPT and against the European states. Because there are agreements signed with Turkey. The CPT can go and visit prisons. They have been given such a right. The reason why Turkey signs such agreements is actually to cover up and legitimize its genocide policy against the Kurds. To deceive people and say that there is democracy, there is freedom, that there are human rights being followed. There are also institutions that follow this deceiving. They are trying to legitimize this by saying “we are doing everything within the framework of democracy, we are doing everything within the framework of human rights”.

The struggle against the isolation in Imrali and the struggle to free Rêber Apo is a very important political struggle. Because it has become a political institution. It cannot be said that it has adopted an attitude according to human rights and law. The European Union approaches Turkey in the same way, the Council of Europe approaches Turkey, European states approach Turkey in the same way.

In this respect, while fighting against the isolation, while demanding the freedom of Rêber Apo, it is also necessary to take a stance against these institutions, to struggle against them, to wage a legal struggle, to expose them, to ensure that they act in accordance with their own laws and regulations. On the one hand they call it CPT, they call it the Human Rights Institution, but on the other hand they do not act according to the policies of the European Union. This needs to be exposed and isolated.

The Marmara earthquake was expected. There had been rumors about it since years. It is also said that there will be an earthquake in Istanbul. Scientists expect that such an earthquake will happen. But it is not clear how many precautions have been taken. After the first earthquake happened in the Marmara region, the ‘earthquake tax’ was created, but that earthquake tax was not for precautions against earthquakes. In other words, it was not used to strengthen the buildings. Then the earthquake of Maraş, Malatya, Adıyaman, Hatay happened and 13 million people were affected by it. Nearly 200 thousand people died. The official numbers say 50 thousand, but it can be clearly said that it were close to 200 thousand people that died. The Turkish state hides the figures anyway, it hides everything in the war, but especially it always hides these figures so that society does not see the truth, so that it is not exposed to the policies. Now, if there is an earthquake in Istanbul, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people could die. None of this earthquake money has gone to earthquake retrofitting. Only maybe 10 percent of it was used. Ninety percent of it has been used for rent-seeking elsewhere, to make their own cronies rich. This is the situation. The people of Istanbul, the people of Marmara need to focus on this. In the future, tens of thousands will be sad, they will sigh. They need to hold the current government to account. They need to find out where these earthquake taxes have gone, how many buildings have been reinforced. In other words, such a social consciousness and social stance must emerge. The earthquake in Maraş, Malatya, Adıyaman, Antep was really big, but it seems forgotten right now. Not even a year has passed. How can such an earthquake be forgotten? Hundreds of thousands of people died, 13 million people were affected, but this government was not held to account. It is almost as if the people will be indebted to this government because the earthquake happened and this government is building houses. There is such a reality. It is very serious.

What is politics, if it isn’t for the people, if it isn’t for the society? Hundreds of thousands of people have died. In this respect, the opposition’s approach is really inadequate. The approach of democrats and intellectuals is insufficient. This earthquake is not an earthquake to be forgotten. It is not an earthquake to say that it was a disaster, it struck and we should do what we can. It is an earthquake that was predicted in advance. They say it will happen in Maraş, right? But no measures are taken. Even in Maraş, Malatya, Adıyaman, zoning amnesty is granted to all buildings that are not earthquake resistant. They sell people their graves. Now there is really no voice against this. This is a serious situation. This really needs to be on the agenda. This government needs to be grabbed by the collar, they need to be held accountable. So many people have died because of their policies. Ten cities have been destroyed. This is really unconscionable. Everything in Turkey is rotten, consciences are rotten too. Thousands of people waited for their deaths under the collapsed buildings. Thinking about their death, that they may die in a day, maybe in 5 hours, they stayed under the debris of the city. They waited for help, but no one helped them. Thousands of people experienced this feeling under the earthquake. They died by experiencing that feeling. What literature can describe this, what novel can describe this? Which human emotion can really bear it? It is really unconscionable. In this respect, the fact that this is not brought up by the opposition shows how inadequately the opposition approaches the problems and how they follow the agenda of the government. Instead of holding the government to account for these crimes committed by the government, it follows the government’s agenda and such an event is forgotten.

Tomorrow it will happen in Istanbul, tens of thousands will die, it will be approached in the same way. If the society approaches it this way, if the opposition approaches it this way, why should the government be worried? Why shouldn’t it take the earthquake money and give it to its own cronies? It says, “I will give it to them, and if there is an earthquake tomorrow, I will pay for it. It is a situation that really disturbs and creates uneasiness. It is really irresponsible to accept this, not to think about it, not to pursue it, not to hold it to account, not to write literature about it, not to write novels about it, not to write poetry about it, not to keep it alive in the memory, not to raise anger against it, anger against the government that caused this earthquake.

From this point of view, I am once again telling all democrats, democratic forces, socialist that they should bring this earthquake to the agenda. The murders are obvious. It was done on purpose. There is guilt. There is the spending of earthquake money. Even those were not held to account. Billions of aid was received, but AKP gave it here and there to solve its own economic crisis.

It is said that there will be an earthquake with its center in Imrali and Istanbul. A new approach to this earthquake issue needs to be developed. The Turkish government needs to develop a new policy. It needs to develop a new attitude. The people need to establish organizations and supervise it. They need to supervise the municipalities. The government needs to be supervise. How ready is ‘The Disaster and Emergency Management Authority’ [AFAD?] What can it do in case of an earthquake? The people need to follow up and hold them accountable. If this happens, then when an earthquake occurs, there will be the least pain, the least loss of life.

Since you have been talking about the isolation on Imrali, what is the situation of the political prisoners in Turkey? There is also struggle being waged and not long ago a hunger strike for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan was started. How do you evaluate this?

I would like to respectfully greet the comrades in prison. Indeed, in the prisons a high price has been paid for the struggle of this people and this since 50 years. Along with the guerrilla, it was our comrades in the prison who paid the highest price. In this respect, the actions of the comrades in prison must be valuated.

Right now there are almost 200 prisons in the state of Turkey. All prisons are full of Kurdish prisoners. They are isolated from each other and are under intense pressure. Even their families cannot go to them. In order to prevent Kurdish families from seeing their children, they have built prisons in the farthest places in Turkey and they drive them all over the country. But the comrades in the prisons have continued their resistance until today in accordance with their own traditions, in the spirit of July 14th, in accordance with the history of the prison resistance. Whenever there is an important agenda regarding Rêber Apo, about his freedom, about isolation, when there is pressure on Rêber Apo, the prisons have always felt really responsible, they have always done what was necessary. In this respect, the prisons fulfill their responsibilities. They show this attitude by melting their bodies in the prisons when they have no weapons, when they have no means. As a result of this, there are hundreds of seriously ill people in prisons. One of the reasons for these illnesses is that they are under so much pressure, they have gone on so many death fasts and hunger strikes. They are under psychological warfare under such heavy isolation, they are kept in an unhealthy environment, they are not taken to the doctor when necessary. All of these have of course created an important health problem in the prison.

The resistance of the comrades in the prison should really be saluted with respect. Their families support them and we need to support them even more. It is not enough if this responsibility is just left on the shoulders of the families. The whole Kurdish people should embrace the resistance in the prison. Our international friends, Kurdish friends and democrats started the global campaign for the physical freedom for Rêber Apo and status for Kurdistan. It is their campaign and it is being supported by our comrades in the prisons. They have taken action to ensure the success of the campaign. They felt responsibility again. They started such an action despite very difficult conditions. Of course, our people, everyone should understand this resistance, if they put forward such resistance under such difficult conditions, if they put their lives on the line, if they are melting day by day, our youth, our women, our people everywhere should develop more struggle. The stance of the comrades in prison is a stance according to the line of the party. It is a stance of loyalty to Rêber Apo. What Rêber Apo means for Kurdistan, what the Kurdish people’s struggle for freedom means is best demonstrated in prisons. For years, by going on death fasts, hunger strikes, fighting against the isolation of Rêber Apo and for his freedom, paying very heavy prices in this regard, both our female comrades and our male comrades have shown everyone what Rêber Apo means to the Kurdish people.

While looking at the prisons, it is also necessary to evaluate the prisons’ view of and approach to Rêber Apo. All our people need to understand the reality of Rêber Apo by looking at their children in prison. All the people in the prison are conscious people, educated people, people with a sense of responsibility. If they embrace Rêber Apo so much, then all our people should look at their own children and embrace Rêber Apo the same way. No people can deserve freedom without embracing their leadership. No people can deserve democracy without embracing the leadership. Only by claiming their leaders can they win freedom. A people who embrace their leader will gain freedom, but if they do not embrace their leader, they cannot gain freedom.

Why is there so much pressure on Rêber Apo? In few weeks 25 years will be over. It is not just a few years. In the past, seven folk songs were sung for those who had been in prison for seven years. Now the Leader has been in prison for 25 years. For what? For this people. Rêber Apo has never lived a day or a second for himself, he has given his whole life to this people. He continues to do so in prison. We all need to stand up for this leadership. Claiming this leadership cannot be left just to the prisons. What are the possibilities of prisons? What can they do? They can only put their lives on the line. In this respect, mainly our people, youth, women, international friends and democratic forces outside, we need to strengthen and participate in the campaign for the freedom of Rêber Apo. I take this opportunity to greet the comrades in prison once again. Despite all the oppression, they represent the honor and pride of this people. They represent all our martyrs, they are worthy of our martyrs. They are worthy of the Kemals, Hayris and Mazlums. In this respect, I greet them here once again with respect and love.

In the frame work of the global campaign for the freedom if Abdullah Öcalan and a status to Kurdistan, many actions are evolving. Most recently there was an action day to drag attention on the writings of Abdullah Öcalan. What can you tell us about this?

December 10th was Rêber Apo’s Book Day day, which was quite important. I would like to send my greetings to those who started such a campaign, it is a very important work that is being done. Indeed, starting, carrying out and developing days of reading Rêber Apo means spreading the thought that will ensure the freedom of humanity. It means ensuring that the ideas that will ensure the freedom of humanity and lead people to a democratic and free life are embraced all over the world. It means raising the consciousness of humanity. It means bringing closer the freedom of all humanity, of all oppressed people in the world.

It is clear that today, to free humanity, to free the peoples, laborers, women, youth, the oppressed from capitalist life, and to create a democratic socialist life, a democratic modernity, a modernist life, it is necessary to look upon the ideas of Rêber Apo. His ideas are now really important. We have made a lot of evaluations on this issue before, but I want to stress out this once again. The thoughts of Rêber Apo need to be discussed. All intellectuals, democrats and socialists need to discuss them. It expresses a very important political philosophy. There is a thought, a paradigm that collects all 5000 years of values and knowledge created by the human, criticizes mistakes and puts forward correct ones. This needs to be seen. There is a deficiency in this respect. Let it be discussed. If there is a contribution to be made, let it be made. Shortcomings can be discussed, but most essentially let it be discussed and evaluated. Rêber Apo evaluates 5,000 years of history that will lead all humanity to freedom. There is no other philosopher, no other ideologist who evaluates 5,000 years of history in such a holistic way. Yes, there are many social scientists; we respect them and their evaluations. They have also put forward important analyses to raise people’s consciousness. But there is Rêber Apo following an holistic approach, dealing with the entire history of humanity, dealing with social science in its entirety, dealing with politics in its entirety, and putting forward a comprehensive paradigm within this framework.

Rêber Apo is a socialist leader, a leader of humanity. Of course, his writings should be read, discussed and spread around the world. This is very valuable. Such a kind of treasure. It should be open to everyone, shown to everyone. It is really a deficiency for all of us that such a great idea has not been spread sufficiently until now. We are not saying it has not been spread. There are great efforts in the world being made. The books of Rêber Apo have been published, they have made friends. Conferences have been held and discussed in many places, but it is still insufficient. If the ideas of Rêber Apo are discussed in a very comprehensive way in the world, I can easily say that the life of this male-dominated intellectual, power, statist system will come to an end. The life of its last representative, capitalist modernity, will be shortened. We see what capitalist modernity has brought to humanity. It brings nothing but crisis, problems, war, fighting and poverty. It brings nothing but the death of society. Society is dying, humanity is dying. Reading the books of Rêber Apo is actually a solution, a remedy, a medicine. The more one reads and learns about Rêber Apo, the more one will find a cure for the diseases that humanity and societies are suffering from. It really is a solution. Rêber Apo has created a paradigm that synthesizes the knowledge and thoughts of all the philosophers and intellectuals who have struggled for humanity from the past to the present, taking from them, that is, based on them. Rêber Apo was nourished by Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, the era of Europe that was undergoing reform and Renaissance, and of course the theories put forward by Marx, Engels and socialists starting from the 19th century. He emerged as a Marxist, put forward this idea by appropriating them. But Rêber Apo saw the shortcomings and inadequacies of real socialism. He saw the lack of solutions on various issues, he saw the lack of solutions on women’s freedom, he saw the lack of solutions on ecology and nature, he saw the state as deficient in its evaluation and he came up with an alternative paradigm.

We can no longer live in a state-dominated, power-oriented, male-dominated world. The way out of this male-dominated, power-oriented, statist world is to spread the ideas of Rêber Apo. We see this as very important. He needs to be constantly read. This is actually a great service to humanity. Rêber Apo once said it like this: “I present these evaluations, these analyses in the consistency of strained honey. It is really that clear.” It shows people the way to salvation in the consistency of strained honey. Everyone should really read and learn this, and just as filtered honey is very useful, the thoughts of Rêber Apo are really valuable and useful for all humanity in the consistency of filtered honey. In this respect, I think that these reading days will give a great impetus to learning about Rêber Apo, and I would like to once again salute those who carry out this work for their efforts.

Recently there has been a conference on the Kurdish Question in the European Parliament. Have you been able follow it?

Indeed an important Kurdish conference took place in the European Parliament. We also saw the following at this conference. The discussions at this conference are increasingly centered on the paradigm of Rêber Apo. The democratic nation was discussed, women were discussed and the equality and freedom of peoples were discussed. Most of these are ideas guided by Rêber Apo’s paradigm. This also meant the following. Because the paradigm of Rêber Apo is very correct, because it responds to the need, I watched a conference where people spoke more easily on these issues, made evaluations more easily, made holistic evaluations and made evaluations with enthusiasm and conviction. It was important in this respect. Of course, important evaluations were made on the Kurdish problem. There were also discussions on solving the problems on the basis of the democratic nation, and there were discussions on women’s freedom. Yes, indeed, the slogan “Jin, Jiyan, Azadî”, its philosophy, also left an important mark on that conference. Now, when we talk about Kurds, Rêber Apo comes to mind. When we talk about the Kurds, Kurdish thought, the Kurdish view of the world, the Kurdish view of events, we think of Rêber Apo. Because there is no Kurdish thought anymore except the view and thoughts of Rêber Apo. There was a classical, primitive, nationalist thought. That is now left behind. It has no meaning anymore. It is of no use to the Kurds. In this respect, the thought that gives honor to the Kurds is the thought of Rêber Apo. That is why Kurds are confident now. Kurds are the ones who speak with confidence in front of the world. They see themselves as such: they can say that we have a stronger thought than other people, peoples and communities. They speak with such confidence. They need to know how they speak this way. It is the thoughts of Rêber Apo that have given the Kurds this self-confidence, that have made the Kurds so honorable and proud among humanity. It has left its mark on the conference. In this respect, I congratulate and salute the organizers of the conference.

Of course, there were also some incomplete approaches. In other words, there were some people who did not understand Rêber Apo’s paradigm correctly, or more precisely, there are some patterns of the mentality of capitalist modernity, people who could not overcome those patterns, who could not overcome that paradigm, and therefore, when evaluating, eclectic evaluations were made. Someone stood up and said we are against the state, we are against the nation state, but we are not against nationalism, for example. This is really the classical paradigm of the 19th-20th century. At that time, there was such an approach in the national liberation movement. That the nationalism of the oppressed nation is innocent. There is no need to call it nationalism. There is patriotism. There is commitment to values. Nationalism is an ideology. It is an ideology that considers its own nation superior and despises others. Where has there been peace where there is nationalism? A person who is a nationalist cannot think clearly, cannot make healthy evaluations. He molds events and facts to himself. You will not do this. In other words, you will put forward what is right. Of course we will defend the rights of the Kurd, but we will defend the rights of everyone. The ideology of nationalism leads to the nation state. Or the nation state stands up, takes shape and exists with the ideology of nationalism. We really need to pay attention to these things. When you think in the paradigm of women’s freedom, ecological freedom and democratic approach that will create the new world, you think in a holistic and correct way and you don’t live in the old paradigm.

But I can say that there were not many such speeches. There were one or two small statements. But in general, to summarize, this is really important. When evaluating on the women’s freedom, one gets excited and enthusiastic. We are uplifted by the fact that Rêber Apo revealed these thoughts of ours. A Kurdish People’s Leader came up with these ideas and now women are embracing him them. When we see this, of course we feel uplifted.

Lately, there have been many attacks by the Kurdish Freedom Guerrilla on the occupying Turkish army. Could you evaluate the situation of war in Kurdistan?

The new phase of the war in the South Kurdish Medya Defense Zones has been going on since October 21. The Turkish state has settled some places on the hills before. Right now the guerrilla and the Turkish army are fighting against each other in many places, especially on the border line. The war continues. The Turkish state cannot advance despite all its techniques, despite the support it receives from the KDP. The guerrilla cannot move as it wants because of the KDP supporting the Turkish army. The KDP puts obstacles to logistics and reinforcements. The guerrilla is fighting there under difficult conditions, fighting sacrificially, and this prevents the Turkish state from settling there and dominating it. Yes, it has settled in some places, but it is constantly being hit. They cannot sleep. And these are the ones that are up there, constantly controlling with UCAVs, using all kinds of techniques, constantly bombing with mortars and howitzers from the border, constantly bombing with airplanes and helicopters. The bombs dropped there are many times more than those dropped by Israel. But this is not seen. And it has been like this for years. I mean, not just for a month. They throw them into the mountains and burn the whole nature. Such a war is going on like this.

Against this, the war of our comrades is really sacrificial. We can say that for 50 years our movement has waged a sacrificial struggle. Here is what happened starting from the prison resistance. “You cannot darken our sun”, is the spirit created by thousands of our sacrifices. These have come together to this day. The sacrifice shown these days is walking on 50 years of sacrifice.

Despite the enemy’s technique, despite all kinds of opportunities, in those difficult conditions, our young comrades go against the enemy with enthusiasm as if they were going to a wedding. Can those guerrillas who go against the enemy, can that spirit be defeated? That spirit is now the spirit of the Kurdish people. It is the spirit of Kurdish youth, Kurdish women. This spirit will definitely defeat this genocidal colonialism. Let them say as much as they want, we will do this, we will do that, we will succeed. The time for that has passed. Yes, you can attack. You can also take casualties. The guerrilla can also suffer losses and pay a price. Our people can also pay a price. But this sacrificial spirit, the people’s reality created by it will definitely defeat genocidal colonialism. Comrade Abbas was saying that it is not possible to destroy or eliminate the PKK like that. The PKK is growing, the effect of Rêber Apo is growing, the Kurdish people are growing among the peoples of the world. There is such a reality. There is such a reality of struggle. In this respect, to think that you can defeat it with tanks and cannons is like Rome once thought that it would defeat Jesus, like Mecca once thought that it would defeat Mohammed when he came out, like the reactionary resistance in Europe against the Renaissance reform, like those who resisted strong thoughts, new ideas, new thoughts lost, Turkey will lose in the face of such a great struggle.

We really take morale from those comrades. Because they are the representatives of our 50 years of struggle, our spirit of sacrifice. They are representing it. They represent the sacrificial spirit of our people. I greet them here once again with love and respect.

To throw again an eye on the policies within Turkey; recently the Turkish state is opposing even more pressure on democratic institutions like the Turkish Medical Association. How do you evaluate these developments?

The Turkish state is waging an unjust, dirty and inhuman war. It is waging an ugly, evil war like no other state in the world. In fact, the AKP and MHP government is a government of evil. Now they are trying to suppress even the smallest voice to prevent this from being exposed. They say no one should speak. Because if somebody may speak, all of their shame will be exposed. That inhuman face, that genocidal face, that massacring face will be exposed. What have they made the Saturday Mothers go through for years? Why? They are afraid that the mask will fall off. Let them be afraid. They are trying to scare everyone and openly threatening that they will do same that they did to the Saturday mothers, with everyone that dares to stand up.

And now there is the topic of the Turkish Medical Association [TBB]. Why? Because Şebnem Korur Fincancı is saying “may there be investigations“. This is what she said. There is are allegations, so let it be investigated. An intellectual, a doctor… Now they have targeted the TBB because of this. They once targeted bar associations. They want to eliminate everything that will block the AKP-MHP fascist government in Turkey and prevent its policies. We have repeated it before, but let me emphasize it again. The reason for these attacks is this: They say that if there is the slightest democratic opportunity, if there is an opportunity, the Kurds will benefit from it. Because they say Kurds will benefit, they are hostile to and prevent the smallest step towards democracy. They say that if such a tradition is established, the Kurds will benefit tomorrow. They say this openly. They don’t say this for those in the mountains. They say it for HDP. They are practicing democratic politics. They say it for other democractic forces. In this way they want to strangle democracy. Because who can benefit from democracy? Kurds can benefit. That is why.

Every day they say Israel is doing this, Israel is doing that. Yes, they do. The Turkish state is doing it at least as much as Israel. The Turkish state has been doing it for decades. With the bombs of the Turkish state, not one Gaza but ten Gaza would have been destroyed. This is the truth. In order to prevent this fact from being exposed, to prevent it from being exposed, the Turkish Medical Association is being shut down.

In this respect, the struggle for democracy needs to be sharpened further. It must be waged together with the Kurdish people. There cannot be a struggle for democracy without opposing the genocidal war against the Kurdish people. Democracy is prevented in Turkey because they say Kurds will benefit from democratization. Yes, Kurds will benefit from democracy. Will the Kurds be genocided, will there no longer be such a people, will there be democracy then? Will we be democrats then? Then we will struggle for democracy. So this reality needs to be seen by everyone. In this respect, the reason for the closure of the TBB is part of the Kurdish problem. Some people are discussing it in a meaningless way. Let’s not call it the Kurdish problem, what will we call it? The nature problem, for example. When you say the nature problem, does nature create problems? This is how it is used for everyone to understand. As long as the Kurdish problem is not solved, as long as the Kurds gain their freedom, such practices will continue. This issue of the closure of the TBB once again reveals this reality.

Right now it is not just the Kurdish people and democratic institutions in Turkey that are struggling for a democratization of Turkey, there are also for example the Alevis that got more active lately.

Alevis plan to organize a rally for Democratic Turkey and Equal Citizenship. This is an important rally. Alevis are the second largest community in Turkey, after Kurds, who have not gained their freedom and democratic rights. In fact, the Alevi population may be as large as the Kurdish population, and there are some who say it is even larger. Because there are Turkish Alevis everywhere. Now, of course, there is nothing as natural as such a large community demanding its own rights and freedom of belief. But just as the Turkish state is locked in a genocide of Kurds, it is also locked in a genocide of Alevis’ beliefs. Genocide of belief means genocide of culture at the same time. Because beliefs also shape culture. In this respect, Alevis, like Kurds, are facing genocide collectively. They are facing religious genocide. They are facing cultural genocide. And this threat has increased. This threat is greater than it was a hundred years ago.

That belief is wanted to be completely separated from its essence and assimilated. It is facing such a situation. Today Cevdet Yılmaz said that they have given Alevis a presidency in the Ministry of Culture. What presidency, recognize the existence of people, recognize their own worship. Remove the obstacles in front of their worship. Don’t try to define their beliefs for them. No, he says, “I will change Alevis to suit me, I will make them suit me”. The Turkish-Islamic synthesis wants to destroy the Kurds, on the other hand, it wants to melt everyone into the pot of Sunni Islam.

Of course there is a reaction from Alevis against this. Alevis do not want to be slaughtered for their beliefs. Alevis have the consciousness to see this. Because Alevis do not learn what they are from Erdoğan. They learned from their fathers and grandfathers. They know what they are. And now the AKP is trying to make Alevis part of the state. Alevis are a democratic society that has remained outside the state throughout history. In essence, they are a democratic community. Non-state communities live with democratic values. In other words, state communities are not naturally democratic. We need to define it like this. In non-state communities there is no such power, oppression and tyranny. They have come to this day with their own values, democratic values. Alevis are such a community. Now this community is actually close to democracy. As such, of course they oppose the authoritarian system, the fascist system. The reason why Alevis are in opposition is the oppressive, undemocratic character of the Turkish state. They oppose it. They also opposed it during the Ottoman period. They were always in rebellion, they did not accept the state as it was. Now they want to be melted down. There is an attitude against this. There is a significant level of correct approach, but there are still those who have expectations from the state. When we talk about Alevis, we are talking about tens of millions of people. They can build their own cemevis and provide their own worship facilities. How did the pirs and grandfathers live in the past? There is apprenticeship wherever they go. Whatever their talents, whatever their means are, the poor also give. Those pirs continued their lives. It can continue to exist. Expecting the state to do so is like this. Now Sunni Islam is criticized, it is said to be like this and that. Why did it merge with the state? The state has taken it over. In other words, it has become the state religion. So should Alevis be like that now? They don’t want that. Since the majority of them don’t want it, they should take a more principled stance against it. This is not Alevism. It is the end of Alevism, it is a betrayal of Alevism. If he is a pir, his talibs meet his needs. In other words, they enable him to serve. This is the truth. Of course they want equal citizenship, that is true. Therefore, the way for Alevis to gain equal citizenship is democratization in addition to gaining freedom of belief. It is the struggle for democracy. Alevis cannot gain freedom of belief without democratizing Turkey and fighting for democracy. Their beliefs will be tampered with and they will be assimilated. In this respect, today they need to see the struggle for democracy as their true worship. Then they will worship correctly, they will practice their beliefs correctly, they will practice their beliefs in the true sense. In this respect, whoever is fighting for democracy in Turkey should be allied with them. Whoever is in favor of democracy in Turkey is a friend of Alevis. That is how they should see friendship. The answer to the question of who is a friend to Alevis is clear. Whoever is in favor of democracy is a friend. Whoever is fighting for democracy is a friend. They need to approach with such an approach.

In this respect, of course, the March for Equal Citizenship and Democratic Turkey is being organized. There is an important motivation and reaction. I would like to emphasize one point here. It is necessary to fight jointly with all Alevi segments, except those who are in very close relations with the state and target the state. There may be various different views. Whatever is right will be reached in time. Because Alevis are discussing their history and many things. But this is clear. What Alevism is is not a debatable issue. It is what everyone has seen from their grandparents. There is no such thing as someone else creating a new Alevism.

But of course the world is changing, society is changing. It can change without changing its essence, but its essence must not change, that is, its democratic side, its socialist side, its side in favor of equality and justice must not change. It should not take the approach that we have moved to the city and we can no longer be socialist as we used to be. In this respect, we support the struggle of Alevis for equal citizenship. It is an important democratic accumulation. They are part of the struggle for democracy. There are already two fundamental democracy dynamics in Turkey. One is the Kurds and the other is the Alevis. Socially, they are involved in the struggle for democracy the most. Of course, laborers are involved, women are involved. In this respect, it is important that Alevis take an active part in the struggle for democracy. In this respect, of course we support their struggle for democracy, their struggle for freedom, their struggle to protect their beliefs against the genocide of faith, against the genocide of culture.

The war between Israel and the Hamas has already entered its third month. What has been achieved so far out of your perspective? What has this war shown?

What did the Israeli-Palestinian war show? Problems cannot be solved with religionism and nationalism. Yes, the problem of the Jews is thousands of years old. They have been exiled several times, scattered all over the world, subjected to genocide. They have always been marginalized in many parts of the world. There was also their struggle to settle in Palestine as it is said in the Torah. The struggle of the Jews to come and settle in Palestine and the problems they had with the people there started at that time. So it starts, but it cannot go on forever. This issue needs to be solved with the right approach, with a correct understanding of sociality and social science. In fact, one of the most important characteristics of Rêber Apo is that he changed social science a lot. He says that social science in the age of capitalist modernity has created all these problems. It is this capitalist modernity that has developed so much religionism, nationalism and monism. Yes, there are problems in history, but it is this system that aggravates the problems. The First World War, the Second World War broke out. Is there any war in history as heavy as the Second World War, as heavy as the First World War? Is there? I mean, no. Heavy wars, big wars have always happened in the era of capitalist modernity. Understanding needs to change. Nationalism and religiosity need to change. The understanding of the democratic nation needs to develop. The approach to solving problems, that is, the understanding of a solution in a common homeland with the understanding of a democratic nation, not with war, this needs to develop. Otherwise, you can’t go anywhere with such blind fighting. Right now there is a blind fight.

Of course, there are Israel’s unjust practices here. There is the resistance of the Palestinian people against this. But based on Israel’s unjust practices, there should not be those who distort the struggle of the Palestinian people or openly kill civilians, such as religious groups, such as Hamas. Of course, this does not legitimize Israel’s current attack on Gaza. There is an attack against a people. In this respect, this issue really needs to be emphasized. As we have said before, Rêber Apo’s understanding of a democratic nation can be a solution. It can solve by recognizing each other’s existence. It is necessary to recognize the rights of the Palestinians where they exist. But this cannot be done with nationalism, religionism or statism. Instead, it is necessary to solve the problems with approaches such as democratic nation, democratic confederalism, brotherhood of peoples, common homeland. Of course, the following has emerged here. The widening of this war does not benefit anyone. The US is already worried about the spread of this war, as well as Iran and in fact, the Arab are worried. They don’t want the war to spread too much. The only one who wants this is the Turkish state. The Turkish state wants the war to spread so that it can benefit from it.

When they think of benefiting, they think of the Kurdish problem, genocide of the Kurds. That is what they think. Behind all the policies of the Turkish state right now is to genocide the Kurds. This is the first and foremost policy. This is its goal. That is why it wants the war to spread. Directly, but also through various means, the policy pursued by the US is directly opposed by Turkey.

The peoples, the democratic forces oppose Israel’s aggression against this war. Israel cannot continue like this. Even the US does not defend it, even its supporters do not defend it. The solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is of course very important, but there is also the Kurdish issue. The Middle East cannot achieve stability and peace without solving the Kurdish problem. But when the two fundamental problems, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the recognition of the Kurds’ right to freedom and existence, are solved, there will be real democracy and peace in the Middle East.

Turkey is doing what Israel is doing. More precisely, Israel is doing what the Turkish state is doing. It trusts the Turkish state. They were saying the other day. Israel will fill the tunnels with water. Now the Turkish state is doing the same. It is supposedly trying to collapse the tunnels by breaking them completely. It uses chemical gas. The Turkish army burns tires with some chemical gas and pumps it into the tunnels. And now Israel is doing that as well. Turkey is actually saying that Israel is doing it every day, committing massacres. What Israel is doing is genocide. We need to evaluate it like this. But the Turkish state is doing the same, it is doing it in excess. What did Hakan Fidan say before the Israel-Hamas war broke out? “We will destroy the entire energy infrastructure.” What is this? What does it mean to say that “I will destroy the infrastructure? I will destroy the possibility of life.” He said that. Now he is shouting that Israel is committing genocide, Israel is committing massacres. He is trying to cover up his own actions. But it is clear that it is not convincing. Yes, if another state, another country said it, it would be right, but not the Turkish state at all. It does everything it says and more. How many people live in Rojava [North-East Syria]? Close to 5 million. In New York, at the United Nations, Erdogan showed a map. They are trying to wipe out the whole of Rojava. You want to uproot it and take it away, but isn’t that genocide? You are doing this openly.

The Turkish state does what Israel does, or Israel does what the Turkish state does. In this respect, the Turkish state has no humanitarian value. It supposedly wanted to be a mediator in this prisoner swap. Right now we have two MIT officers [officers of the Turkish intelligence service] in our hands. Erdogan doesn’t ask one day. He doesn’t say, “I’ll exchange 10 prisoners, I’ll exchange 15 prisoners, so that you give the two back to us.” They are two of their most important men. In this respect, we should not take seriously anything the Turkish state says in this war with Israel. It is shouting like a thief in the night to prevent its own mask from falling off. Israel says everything. Yes, the peoples are saying it. But what Turkey says is to hide its own truth. Otherwise, Turkey does not think about Israel, Gaza, Hamas, this and that. The only thing Turkey is thinking about is the genocide of the Kurds. Not in favor of the Palestinians, not in favor of the Arabs. One day it will be more hostile to the Palestinians than Israel. It is such a state, it has such a reality. It has no principles.