march 15, 2022
The Policy of Genocide
An interview with Elif Ronahi, member of the KCK General Presidential Council, about the characteristics of the Turkish state`s genocidal policy, the global history of genocides and ways for the peoples of the world to defend themselves against the systematic annihilation of their cultures and languages:
Representatives of the KCK [Kurdistan Democratic Communities Union] often emphasize that a genocide is currently taking place in Kurdistan but also in other parts of the world. This is a really serious observation. What makes you call the policy being pursued against the Kurds a genocidal policy? Who is responsible for this policy?
When we as the KCK declare that a genocidal policy is being pursued against the Kurdish people, we are of course not doing so carelessly or are even exaggerating the actual situation. When we take a closer look at the history and reality of Kurdistan, we quickly realize that this is a country that has been divided into four parts. As part of this policy, numerous genocides have taken place in Kurdistan over the course of the past 200 years, especially in the last 100 years. They are carried out in a variety of ways, including political, cultural, economic and religious genocides, but also gender-based genocides that specifically target women.
Particularly in the course of the development of the nation state, monopoly capital and the accompanying industrialism, Kurdistan was subjected to a comprehensive genocidal policy. Because of its very strategic location, many countries focus on Kurdistan and the Middle East. This also explains why Kurdistan has been divided into four. This deliberate division alone constitutes an act of genocide and is part of the broader genocidal policy. The Turkish state is primarily responsible for this, but also Iran, Syria and Iraq. Iraq maybe not as much as the other countries. The country has recognized the official status of the Kurds, even if its form is characterized by certain peculiarities. However, it remains crucial that an artificial Kurdish identity has been or is being created there in accordance with the interests of monopoly capital and the Iraqi nation-state. Only this form of artificial Kurdish identity is being recognized in Iraq.
If we take a look back in history, we can see two dimensions of the genocide directed against the Kurds: Firstly, a genocide is taking place that is driven by the monopolistic, hegemonic forces of the nation-state. Secondly, we can see a genocide being carried out through the collaboration of the Kurds themselves, especially their feudal and religious authorities. With the help of these traditional collaborators, a genocide is being carried out against the Kurds. Although the form may have changed today, in essence this genocidal policy has not changed. Thus, with these two methods a genocide is taking place today.
We can identify one more method, which also comes in two different forms: First, a genocidal policy aimed at the actual physical annihilation of the Kurds. There is a second method connected to this: the policy of assimilation. If the first form does not lead to the desired results, this second one is applied. With the help of this cultural genocide, it is intended to completely achieve the actual goal. So, on the one hand physical extermination and on the other hand – if the desired results are not fully achieved – the assimilation policy. These two methods are closely intertwined.
In the history of Kurdistan, there is, for example, the Sheikh Said Uprising in 1925, which clearly resulted in a genocide. The `Sheikh Said Uprising` was deliberately provoked by the Turkish state in order to bring about its beginning in a controlled and premature manner. Neither Sheikh Said himself nor the Kurdish people were ready for such an uprising at that time. The numerous state-organized provocations were decisive at the time for Sheikh Said to begin an uprising in 1925 despite the lack of adequate preparations. The ‘Sheik Said Uprising’ was then used by the Turkish state as a justification for its comprehensive policy of physical genocide. If we consider the events of 1925 in the context of the general developments in Kurdistan, we can clearly speak of a genocide against the Kurds. Since 1925, examples of this genocidal policy against the Kurdish people can be found every year. We are therefore dealing with a concretely traceable history of genocide. Between 1925 and 1935, numerous laws were passed in Turkey that were part of the state’s genocidal policy, such as the 1934 Forced Resettlement Law [Zorunlu İskân Kanunu]. With the help of these laws, a comprehensive genocide was perpetrated against the Kurds. This state policy affected the cultural and social spheres, but also resulted in their exclusion from political life.
The reason for this policy is the denial of Kurdish existence. How can one recognize the culture, language, politics or social structure of a people whose existence one denies? This is simply impossible. Accordingly, in Kurdistan, the genocidal and assimilation policies have always been implemented together in the closest possible way. The goal of this policy to this day is to break the will of the people and force them to surrender. The existence of the Kurdish people is simply not being recognized. Very few comparable examples of such a policy can be found in the world. Yes, numerous peoples have been assimilated, colonized or their lands annexed and occupied throughout history, but while doing so, their existence as a people was recognized. But the existence of the Kurdish people in Kurdistan is being denied. And because the existence of the Kurds is not recognized, all kinds of measures against them are considered legitimate. During Ismet Inönü’s1 reign, the slogan `Here we buried Kurdistan` was spread in the province of Ağrı [in North Kurdistan]. This kind of state cannot recognize the Kurdish people. This is still the case today. In November of last year , Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar made the following statement in the Turkish parliament: `A place or country called Kurdistan does not exist.` And yet the Turkish state maintains continuous relations with the KDP [Kurdistan Democratic Party]. It uses the KDP to pursue its interests and to crush the PKK [Kurdistan Workers` Party]. Is this alone not a clear sign that a genocide is being committed against a people? It is still being claimed today that there is no Kurdish people and no geographical region called Kurdistan.
The developments of the last 200 years and today’s events can therefore clearly be described as a genocide against the Kurds – even though the form of this policy may have changed from time to time. This policy affects the cultural sphere, literature, music and, due to its prohibition, also the language of the Kurds. Today the Turkish state or the country’s current government will tell you: `We accept the Kurds. We only reject the PKK.` But this is complete nonsense. Would someone who accepts the Kurds take people to court because they spoke Kurdish? Or consider somebody guilty because he openly calls himself a Kurd? Yet this is still exactly how the Turkish state is treating the Kurds.
So the nation state, including Turkey, Iran and the Arab countries, pursues a common method, policy and ideology. The nation-state ideology. In all four parts of Kurdistan, first the necessary mentality was spread, and later the corresponding institutions were built. Since then, there have been huge attacks in terms of mentality and ideology in order to implement various political strategies against the Kurds. In practice too, this policy has been implemented very comprehensively: one nation-state, one language, one flag, one national anthem and one culture. This uniform understanding has always led to the denial of the existence of the Kurdish people and all the other peoples. This is especially the case in Turkey.
Looking at the events of 1915 and later, we can clearly see how the Armenian, Assyrian and Pontus-Greek peoples were expelled and annihilated at that time. A little later, this genocidal policy began to be applied against the Kurds. Those Kurds who deny themselves and collaborate with the different states can become president or prime minister there. But Kurds who clearly embrace their existence through their identity, language and culture have never been accepted. It is really important that the international public recognizes this fact. Many countries, including Turkey, have signed the UN Charter and the UN Genocide Convention or expressed their support for these international agreements. Based on the UN Charter and the UN definition of genocide, today’s policies in all four parts of Kurdistan can clearly be described as genocidal policies, policies of cultural and linguistic annihilation. This is the kind of policy we are faced with today.
We must recognize the following: Starting in the 1970s, and especially after the military coup of September 12, 1980 in Turkey and North Kurdistan, the PKK decided to wage a struggle to defend the existence of the Kurdish people. At that time, the PKK based its struggle on the following thesis: `The Kurdish people exist, but they have been colonized.` Once the PKK began this struggle, the genocide against the Kurdish people was significantly intensified. The hegemonic powers, i.e. NATO, stood behind this decision. In particular, the USA, England, Germany and Israel played a leading role. What exactly was the nature of the policy that was implemented in Kurdistan starting in the 1980s? Many extra-legal executions took place. Hundreds of people, members of our society, were shot in the open street in front of their own families and thus fell as Şehits2, are still considered missing or were thrown into acid ponds and are thus still untraceable. 4000 villages were depopulated and destroyed at that time! Many of the people in these villages were murdered in the process. The survivors were displaced. They were forced to flee to the big cities of North Kurdistan and Turkey or to European countries. What was the aim of all this? At that time, a movement and a leadership had developed that fought for the protection of Kurdish existence and freedom. In response, representatives of the Turkish state proclaimed: `Just as we have put down all previous uprisings in Kurdistan, we will also deal with the PKK.` But they have failed.
The PKK has been fighting for the Kurdish people for 44 years. After all this, their existence is generally recognized today. But what form of Kurdish existence is mainly being recognized? There is an attempt to give recognition to a Kurdish identity that does not stand up for its own culture, honor, language, literature and music, but predicates itself on the politics, culture, language or music of other peoples in their respective countries. This Kurdish existence is only being recognized under these circumstances. However, the Kurdish people today are still resolutely standing up for their honor, existence and freedom and are fighting for it on various levels. This represents a very significant development.
The previously mentioned destruction of thousands of villages constitutes a policy of genocide. Today, thousands of political prisoners are being held in Turkey’s prisons. Many of these prisoners have actually already served their sentences and should consequently be released. But this is simply not happening. They are put under massive pressure to make them accept the following: ‘Surrender and work as an agent for us. You are not allowed to fight for the Kurdish people. If you accept our conditions, we will release you. If not, you will remain in prison.`
The last quarter of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century have seen significant technological and media developments. Media and communication technologies have spread massively ever since. However, these developments are being used for severe ideological, mental and cultural attacks against the Kurds. In addition, a very comprehensive rape policy is being pursued in Kurdistan today. With all these different measures, both the guerrillas and the people are being attacked. In concrete terms, this can be seen in the `Subversion Plan` [`Çökertme Planı`] adopted by the National Security Council of Turkey in October 2014. On the one hand, this plan is directed against society, but at the same time it also targets the guerrillas. What is the aim of the `Subversion Plan`? The goal is both the physical annihilation and assimilation of the Kurds. This plan includes a great variety of attacks to physically destroy the Kurdish people, break their will and deprive them of their dignity. Today, the youth in Kurdistan are being offered three things: sex, sports and art promoted by the Turkish state. Kurdish youth are promised by the Turkish state that they will receive extensive political and economic support as long as they deny their own identity. Currently, attempts are being made to win over Kurdish youth for this cause. As part of Turkey’s genocide policy, a particularly large budget is allocated to this area.
At the same time, a war is being waged against the guerrillas. In the course of the past year, this war has taken on a whole new dimension. A great variety of chemical weapons were used against the guerrillas in 2021. Is this not a genocide? Let’s look at the Geneva Convention, for example. Is the way the Turkish state is waging war in accordance with the Geneva Conventions? Definitely not. Is NATO not aware of this? Don’t the hegemonic powers know that? They do, but it serves their interests. The Kurds are neither simply killed nor really kept alive. Thus, they are only given the choice between plague and cholera. At the same time, they fall into the grips of a genocide. The aim is to destroy the Kurds culturally, mentally and morally. For this purpose, the Turkish state first founded the JITEM [Jandarma İstihbarat ve Terörle Mücadele, English: Secret Service and Counterterrorism of the Gendarmerie] in the 1980s and a little later the special units of the police [Polis Özel Harekât] and of the gendarmerie [Jandarma Özel Harekât]. The village guard system3 was also established at that time for this purpose. Thus, numerous legal and illegal structures were established within the army and security forces, whose task to this day is to continuously attack the Kurdish people or Kurdish society. These attacks destroy the moral values of the people.
A few years ago, an AKP representative reacted to a young girl throwing stones during a demonstration with the following words: `Instead of throwing stones, you should instead become a prostitute.` Recently, a Turkish officer made public confessions and declared that he could no longer support the current policy. In Kurdistan in particular, especially in the Botan region, the Turkish state actively promotes prostitution with the help of village guards, the police and the gendarmerie. This has now reached such an extent that today the Turkish state gives all its security forces and officials, all its official and unofficial employees the task to rape. The aim of this rape policy is to destroy Kurdish women and break their will at an early age. This rape policy is not only directed against women. Kurdish men are also being targeted. There are numerous cases of rape and sexual abuse of men who are in detention. What kind of method is used to force Kurdish men to surrender? A man’s daughter, wife or other relatives and acquaintances are raped and video recordings of the rape are made. These recordings are later used as leverage against the targeted men. Women are also put under pressure in this way. They are threatened with the publication of these videos if they refuse to work as agents for the Turkish state. Since the feudal social structures in Kurdistan make the publication of such videos impossible, those affected react as follows: `No, don’t publish the video. My family and acquaintances must never know about it. I am ready to do anything.` That is how the Turkish state breaks the will of many women and men and forces them to surrender. But in the meantime, the Kurdish people have become aware of this policy and are fighting and rising up against it.
There is, for example, the example of a four-year-old child of a Kurdish family who was raped and murdered by Turkish state officials about ten years ago. If that is not part of a genocidal policy, what is? In addition, there are the attacks of the Islamic State [IS]. What the IS did in Sinjar, was that not genocide? All the attacks in Sinjar, the massacres, rapes, and the selling of Kurdish women on slave markets. Ezidi Kurdish women were sold! If this is not a genocide, what is? Or everything that is currently happening in Afrîn and Serêkaniyê. Is this not a genocide? Do all the international powers not know about all these crimes of the Turkish state?
But all the powers consider such a Kurd to be beneficial to their own interests. In other words, a Kurd whose identity has been artificially created, who exists physically but has been alienated from the essence of his Kurdish identity. The aim is to give recognition to such a Kurdish identity that has been robbed of its essence. And the Kurds who reject and resist against this policy are being attacked in the way described before. This was done in Sinjar, just as it was done in Rojava and Afrîn. Such a massacre also took place in Ankara: People who gathered in front of the main train station in Ankara [on October 10, 2015] were attacked by the Turkish state with the help of IS. Over 100 people were murdered there at the time. Earlier [on July 20, 2015], there had been a similar attack in the province of Riha [Turkish: Urfa]. There, dozens of young people had gathered to bring toys and the like to the children of Kobanê. The Turkish state blamed IS at the time. But the state itself is directly responsible for this massacre, in which 33 people were murdered.
It is clear that a rape culture and rape policy is being pursued against women and men in Kurdistan. This is also done, as I mentioned earlier, with the help of the village guards. The Turkish officer I mentioned earlier witnessed this policy himself. He could not stand all this any longer, quit his job and later made public confessions. No people deserves to become a victim of such policies. No society in this world should be treated with such disrespect. No society should be attacked in such a massive way. Who knows what this Turkish officer did himself and what he saw until his conscience could not bear it any longer, until he resigned and made everything public. And this is only one of hundreds of examples. In the last eight years, according to official figures, 50 people have been run over by tanks and other military vehicles in Kurdistan. On top of that, 90 people have been injured by armored military vehicles. If this is not a genocide, what is? There are hundreds of similar examples in Kurdistan.
All these people are victims of this policy: one language, one nation, one culture and one flag. Of course, the PKK will continue its struggle against this policy. Because Önderlik4 is also waging this struggle, he is currently being held prisoner on Imrali5 as part of this genocidal policy. He is prevented from communicating with the outside world and from educating the Kurds. Therefore, all contact between Önderlik and the international public, as well as his people, is cut off. He is currently in absolute isolation. If this is not an expression of a genocide, what is?
We must understand that Turkey is a state that assassinates its own president and generals when they work for a solution of the Kurdish question. This state is capable of anything when it comes to the Kurds. The Turkish state has assassinated its own representatives for admitting that a Kurdish question exists in Turkey, for advocating its solution and for demanding the recognition of the rights of all Kurds. There were attacks, helicopter crashes or an alleged heart attack of Turkish President Turgut Özal. But was the cause of death really a heart attack? Definitely not. All these Turkish state officials were assassinated because they were committed to solving the Kurdish question. Such a mentality, such a state, such a political leadership exists in Turkey. Today, it has clearly turned into a fascist state. The Turkish state is convinced that its survival depends on the destruction of the Kurds. Is it really conceivable that such a state would accept the existence, culture and freedom of the Kurdish people? Every day Erdogan cries it out loud: `The annihilation of the Kurds is a question of our own survival. If they are not destroyed, we cannot survive.´
However, the Kurds and the Kurdistan Freedom Movement have clearly developed a solution. Why should we not live a common life with all the different peoples in the four parts of Kurdistan on the basis of the Democratic Nation? Surely all of them can preserve their own existence, identity, freedom, culture and language and at the same time meet on the basis of a common denominator. But even this idea is being rejected. The Kurds want to live together with all other peoples within the framework of a democratic-confederal system in the countries they live in. This is what they are fighting for. But their proposal is being rejected. Although this is the best and most obvious solution – from the point of view of not only the Kurdish, but also the Arab, Turkish and Persian peoples. But why does this encounter rejection? Because Kurdistan has very rich natural resources and the region is geostrategically very important, recognizing the Kurdish existence would mean for the hegemonic and regional powers to lose access to all that. Therefore, the hegemonic powers want to continue the genocide against the Kurdish people. And the directly involved countries in the region are also interested in the annihilation of the Kurdish people for this reason.
Under what conditions do they accept the Kurds? Only if they betray their own identity, past and future, as well as their culture. Attempts are being made to promote such a Kurdish identity. They only accept a Kurd who lives up to this. However, today the Kurdish people are very aware of this policy. Moreover, they have a leadership and a movement that are resisting against this policy at various levels. And the people themselves are also waging this struggle. Exactly because the Kurds do not accept this policy, a genocide is being committed against them. This is exactly why the state is implementing a policy of systematic rape against the Kurds, especially against Kurdish women. Because the Kurds reject this policy, neither their language nor their culture is being recognized. But the Kurds are fighting for their identity and culture under all circumstances. And they will continue this fight until they achieve all their goals.
Since the beginning of capitalist modernity, genocides have increased all over the world. Many peoples have since been completely wiped out or culturally assimilated. Western societies today nevertheless seem to regard the issue of genocide as something that has little to do with the reality of their own lives. Apparently they are not aware of the great losses they too have suffered due to capitalist modernity. What have the peoples of the world lost as a result of this genocidal policy in the past centuries?
In my answer concerning the situation in Kurdistan, I already mentioned that in many countries of the world, physical genocides and an assimilation policy have been carried out in close connection with each other in the course of the past centuries. Just a look at the last century shows this clearly. Many peoples, both the peoples of Europe itself and all the peoples who have made their way to Europe, have become victims of this policy. So it would be a huge mistake to think that this genocidal policy only affects the Middle East, Africa or countries in the southern hemisphere and that Europe and North America are not affected by it. No, this policy is being pursued there as well.
It may be that in Europe or North America today the existence of peoples is not openly being denied. But this does not mean that genocidal policies do not take place there. Capitalist modernity uses these policies also against ethnic groups or classes in Europe and North America. Moreover, many peoples are forced to flee to Europe because of the genocidal policies in their countries. Genocidal policies are also being pursued against them in Europe. Against the culture, art and philosophy, i.e. the way of life, of these peoples, a comprehensive genocide is being committed there. The peoples there are in a situation of complete encirclement.
Why is this policy being pursued? A closer look at the past 100 years quickly reveals that science has to a very large extent lost its connection to social reality. By losing its connection to society, science has become a servant of the hegemonic forces, their ideology and power status. No matter how much science calls itself independent of power and politics, at its core it is not. It has really become completely alienated from society today. We are dealing with a science that is geared to serve the economic, i.e. industrial, needs of the hegemonic powers. In order to prevent the ongoing genocides, a change in mentality is needed, and therefore also in the field of science. The scientific field must establish a close connection with society and fully free itself from the grip of power and the aforementioned politics. Science must become truly independent. The more independent it becomes, the more it will turn into a science that is fully focused on the needs of society. This kind of science will be able to prevent genocides. It will be able to prevent the annihilation of even more cultures and languages. Proper science provides society with proper consciousness and knowledge. In turn, a society that has the right consciousness and knowledge knows exactly when to do what. In this regard, today’s science really suffers from severe distortions.
In particular, within the framework of capitalist modernity, the hegemonic forces have ensured that science today promotes genocides and assimilation. Was it not this kind of science that developed the atomic bomb for the attack on Hiroshima? A genocide was committed there at that time. A genocide was also committed against the Jewish people. The Jews themselves describe the genocide they suffered as ‘unparalleled in the world’. But today, Jews in Israel are carrying out a genocide against the Palestinian people. Genocides were also committed in many parts of Latin America and Africa. Another example is Sri Lanka. In many places in this world, genocides have been committed or are still being committed. In addition, many peoples of this world have been expelled from their homelands and other peoples have been settled there in their place. The demographic conditions have thus been completely changed in many parts of the world. Also in Europe today, this genocidal policy continues to be implemented in a very subtle way.
Both humans and nature are affected by this policy. Can we really still speak of an ecological life today? Nature has been exploited so massively that it has now lost its natural balance. Numerous international institutions have proven this with their research. It is assumed, for example, that today 210 million people have left their homes and had to flee to other countries. We can clearly see that the ecological way of life has been destroyed. Industry today serves only the interests of the hegemonic forces. We can clearly see that a social economy really does not exist today. The very phenomenon we call an economy has been destroyed. The people of this world have been put in a position where they have to struggle every day anew only to ensure their economic survival.
The peoples and cultures of this world are in great danger today. Hundreds, thousands of languages and dialects have already been destroyed. This is happening all over the world, including Europe. When we look at the lives of people who flee to Europe, we see that maybe their existence, their identity is accepted, but their own meaningfulness, freedom and culture are not recognized. Under what conditions do these people find recognition in Europe? There, a certain kind of individual and society exists, which is in line with the interests of the system of capitalist modernity. A society, ethnicity or culture that wants to break out of this system is corralled and rejected. They are given only the following choice: ‘If you want to live, you must stop striving to live outside the system.’ Those who do so become part of the existing system and henceforth are concerned only with their own survival. But this person abandons his own culture and language and becomes alienated from them. This constitutes an enormous loss. All those who are not willing to accept this policy are today fighting against it. So, the decisive thing in this context is to focus on struggle and resistance, that is, to really fight.
Today, capitalist modernity has created such an artificial, virtual society that the real and true society has ceased to exist. The truth has been destroyed. Today, an artificial, virtual society is really being created. For this purpose, ‘social engineering’ is being used. The system addresses people with the following message: ‘You don’t have to think for yourself. I will think for you.’ Of course, capitalist modernity thinks only of its own interests, its own system, its ideology and the institutions it has created. What is the greatest danger here? The creation of an artificial, virtual society and the ‘social engineering’ based on it. This means nothing less than the complete destruction of social dynamics. In Europe, exactly this policy is being pursued against the ethnic groups, cultures and classes of the European peoples, as well as against the peoples and women who have been forced to flee to Europe. Europe imposes very clear conditions and standards. The more you accept these conditions, the more you exist. But the more you reject them, the less your existence is recognized. Isn’t this kind of policy a form of genocide? Doesn’t this mean being subjected to genocide?
Today, the world is in great danger. Due to massive industrial development, nature, human habitat and many animal species are being completely destroyed. This poses an enormous danger to our world. Various international institutions regularly publish statistics that show the extent of this danger. If humanity really wants to prevent its own destruction, it must wage a very determined struggle for its existence and freedom.
Numerous peoples have been or are still being annihilated. Not only their language and culture, no, they have been and are still being completely annihilated. This does not necessarily have to happen in the form of a physical genocide. Instead, they are deprived of their geographical homeland, that is, the basis of their cultural development. This is how entire peoples are being annihilated. Accordingly, it is really important to recognize this and acknowledge that the world is facing such a great danger.
The connection between society and nature has been destroyed. This poses an enormous danger. A look at the relationship between man and woman also shows us the enormous contradictions that characterize it. This also constitutes a great danger. All peoples could live off the wealth of this world. But it has been monopolized in the hands of a few. All the material and ideal values of peoples and humanity have been either monopolized or destroyed. This is a huge contradiction that is growing bigger and bigger. Consequently, it is very important to fight against all these fundamental contradictions.
We can clearly state that not only cultures and languages are being annihilated today. Europe can also not claim that it has nothing to do with the genocidal policy. On the contrary, Europe pursues this policy in the most subtle way. It uses so-called ‘soft power’ and the ideology of liberalism for this purpose in a very skillful way. Europe may not directly wage war for this purpose. But relying on ‘soft power’ instead of war poses an equally great danger. We can call this the most dangerous form of war. Through classical warfare, a people may be physically destroyed and thus disappear completely from the face of the earth. But when a people is step by step completely confined physically, culturally and linguistically, as well as in the realm of literature, music and freedom, at a certain point it is no longer possible to say clearly whether that people still exists or not, whether it is free or not. Holding a people captive in such a contradictory situation is one of the worst forms of war. But this is exactly what Europe is doing with the help of its soft power. Through soft power, it brings young people from different countries to Europe. They get access to education and develop a certain mentality there. This allows the European countries to use these young people later, for example, as diplomats against their own home countries. With the help of these young people, Europe can specifically change the culture and the educational system in these countries according to its own interests. Accordingly, the youth of the affected countries are exposed to massive mental attacks. The youth affected by Europe’s ‘soft power’ policies are also deliberately used to prevent the emergence of a strong social resistance in these countries. They are being deprived of the chance to receive education in their own country. And they are being alienated from their country and culture. Instead, a foreign culture and form of education is used to shape them. The individual affected by this policy can try as hard as he or she wants to develop. But an individual who has been alienated from his society has lost his sociality, his everything. This person may continue to exist as an individual, but as a social being she or he no longer exists. This is exactly what the European system pursues in a very subtle way. This is what we mean when we talk about ‘soft power’. This policy is really being pursued everywhere today. The various methods by which people are made docile without force are really very subtle. This represents the most basic and effective method of liberal ideology. And this policy is quite successful. So we can clearly see that in all parts of this world – from the Middle and Far East, to Africa and Latin America, but also in North America and Europe – capitalist modernity uses ‘soft power’ very intensely. Soft power not only leads to the annihilation of the cultures of numerous peoples. Rather, it forces these peoples to capitulate economically and politically and to give up their freedom. Today, the entire humanity, all societies and women of this world are in a correspondingly great danger.
More and more cultures and languages are being lost today. A cosmopolitan way of life is being deliberately promoted and perceived by many as something positive. At the same time, cultural resistance is the strongest and longest form of resistance against capitalist modernity worldwide. How can the peoples of this world defend their cultural richness against state, power and capitalism?
The system of capitalist modernity can no longer be changed with the help of reforms. Therefore, a truly radical struggle is necessary in this area. Historically, cultural movements have always been able to preserve their existence and development. Many movements have waged very intense struggles for the protection of their cultures, languages or dialects. But these struggles were always considered a great danger by liberalism as well as by real socialism. They understood the cultural resistances as a demand for separate nation states. Therefore, they always considered them dangerous and attacked them. Yet these resistances did not represent a danger in this sense. But nevertheless they were and are still considered dangerous.
For all the peoples, cultures, dialects and ethnic groups whose annihilation is imminent today, it is very important to defend their existence against the respective hegemonic ethnic group. This applies to their existence, freedom and culture. Accordingly, this struggle must be waged holistically.
For this struggle, the idea of the Democratic Nation really offers the best solution. The Democratic Nation makes it possible not to see the existing nation-state borders as a problem or obstacle to one’s own goals and, accordingly, to organize oneself within the framework of the Democratic Nation wherever one lives: Democratic Confederal systems can thus be established in various cities, villages and regions. Within the framework of these systems – in line with the slogan ‘United in Diversity’ – all cultures and languages can be protected. In this sense, the Democratic Nation is really the only possible solution. The system based on it can be built on the basis of mutual respect for the different cultures, languages, music or folklore – that is, without excluding or marginalizing the other. Both in the Middle East, but also in other parts of the world such as Europe, Latin America, India or China, the conditions for this are absolutely there. So it’s really important that we build this system all over the world.
Today, the hegemonic forces are also aware that it is no longer useful for capitalist modernity to insist on the nation-state. Accordingly, for about 200 years, the forces of Capitalist Modernity have been making attempts to overcome the nation-state. Examples of this are the foundation of the European Union and the United States of America. But China is also associated with these efforts. In South Africa, too, there have been corresponding developments. We could cite numerous other examples. The hegemonic forces have recognized that the nation-state no longer serves their interests, and even endangers them. Therefore, they have been trying to overcome nation-state borders for 200 years and have been developing alternative forms of organization, such as the EU and the USA. However, it would be wrong to claim that the interests of the peoples, their cultures and democracy have been sufficiently taken into account in this process. This has happened only to a certain extent. We can see this especially with regard to the EU. But this is definitely not enough to save peoples and languages whose destruction is imminent.
Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to promote a strong organization and to lead a radical struggle. We must understand the resistance spirit of the 68 youth movement as the basis for this struggle. Only with this spirit of resistance can the peoples and languages of our world be saved. Only through organizing, through the Democratic Nation, the building of Democratic Confederalism and autonomous structures at the level of villages, cities and regions can this succeed. To put it holistically, this is how everyone will be able to protect their freedom, meaning, culture and traditions from the great dangers of our time.
To achieve this, it is very important to analyze the current state of science in detail. This also applies to the liberal ideology developed by capitalist modernity. This ideology must be analyzed precisely and we must all become aware of it. Industrialism and the economy, which were developed on the basis of this science and ideology, must also be studied closely. It is absolutely necessary to accurately analyze, disclose and become aware of all these aspects in order to advance the struggle on this basis.
It may well be that the physical existence of the peoples of Europe is not in danger today. But it is very important that they realize once again that the respective culture and language constitute the foundation of the history, memory and future of a people. We can clearly see that the peoples and societies of Europe have become seriously alienated from their own values. Therefore, there is a need for a new renaissance, a cultural and moral revolution in Europe. A revolution of conscience.
The youth of Europe, the revolutionaries there, the European anti-fascist and anti-capitalist movements must organize themselves on this basis. This is really important. In order to pave the way for this necessary universal struggle, they need to build alliances with the local peoples, the oppressed peoples and all the languages and cultures that are to be destroyed, and develop strong relations with them. Together with them, they must organize themselves strongly. Because organizing yourself is crucial. It is especially important to fight against the mentality developed by capitalist modernity, to protect and develop your own culture against the culture promoted by this system, that is, to defend your own language and culture. This means defending your own consciousness. Without the conscious development of self-defense, it is really impossible to protect one’s own language, tradition and ethnicity. Protecting all of this is really important.
We can clearly see that all these various forces all over the world are really intensively searching for a solution. However, as long as they see only themselves as the center of this search and insist only on what is their own, their search will not be successful. Instead, we must understand all peoples as the center of this quest. Just as everyone appreciates their own culture, they must also look at other cultures with the same appreciation. Once that happens, all the different identities of our world will come together on a whole new level. Then cultures threatened with annihilation will not only be saved, but it will be possible to pass on the cultures and traditions to new, strong generations.
This struggle is led by women. The nature, mind, emotions and way of thinking, as well as the character of women, correspond better to this struggle. She has a stronger aspiration to lead this struggle. Therefore, women will live up to their aspiration to lead this struggle. This is also true for the youth. I am sure that on this basis, through our struggle, we will succeed in developing and protecting universal values as well as local values, that is, the different peoples, cultures, economies, nature and the ecological balance. We will successfully defend all this, develop it further and thereby protect humanity as a whole.
1Ismet Inönü was Prime Minister of Turkey three times (1923 to 1924, 1925 to 1937 and 1961 to 1965). He was also Turkey’s president from November 11, 1938 to May 22, 1950.
2In the Kurdistan Freedom Movement, all people who lose their lives in the struggle for freedom are called Şehits. Great importance is attached to their commemoration, as they are seen as inspirations and guideposts for the further struggle.
3Village guards are recruited from the local Kurdish population, especially in rural areas, financed and equipped with weapons by the Turkish state. The goal is to destroy the close relationship between the guerrillas and the Kurdish population or to restrict it as much as possible.
4This refers to Abdullah Öcalan. Elif Ronahi uses this designation as an expression of her great respect and strong bond with Abdullah Öcalan.
5Due to strong pressure from NATO, but also with the active participation of Israel and Russia, Abdullah Öcalan was forced to leave Syria on October 9, 1998. After an exodus that lasted several months and took him to Greece, Russia and Italy, among other places, Abdullah Öcalan was kidnapped in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on February 15, 1999, and taken to Turkey. Since then, he has been imprisoned on the prison island Imrali.