our interviews

february 11, 2024

We are approaching the 25th anniversary of the 15th February International Conspiracy against Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan1. What were the reasons and aims of the conspiracy? How does the conspiracy continue today?

As an indebted comrade, I send my greetings to Rêber Apo2. During the conspiracy, dozens of our imprisoned comrades and friends in all four parts of Kurdistan and abroad set their bodies on fire. In the person of comrades Halit Oral, Aynur Artan, and Sema Yüce, I commemorate everyone who, under the ‘You cannot darken our sun’ campaign, gave their lives during these actions.

Our people, our movement, and our international friends should understand well the reasons, aims, and menthod of the International Conspiracy which is continuing today. On the 2nd anniversary of the conspiracy, when the lawyers went to Rêber Apo, they said, “There are a few days left until the anniversary of the conspiracy. The people want to  mourn.” Rêber Apo smiled and said, “They should not mourn; they should learn lessons from this conspiracy, draw conclusions, and everyone should know their role very well.”

This is the truth, we must understand this very well. When we look at the history of the Kurdish people and their revolts, they have always faced conspiracies. Rebellions were either started prematurely through conspiracy or conspiracies were made by playing with the honest and sincerity personalilties of the Kurdish people. Leaders of those rebellions were martyred through execution or other methods. This is how the occupiers and genocidal and conspiratorial forces achieved results. They thought that they would also gain results from the 15 February conspiracy against Rêber Apo. But this was not achieved.

During the conspiracy, great developments were taking place in the Middle East. America wanted to intervene in Iraq; Afghanistan was on the agenda. For example, the ‘Greater Middle East Project’ was also being prepared. All these were preparations, plans, and projects of the international powers towards the Middle East. The struggle of our movement and our people had reached a certain level, and despite the support and assistance of all international powers, the occupying Turkish state could not achieve results against us.

The movement was developing in every sense, which created a problem for the international powers. This problem was either to be solved somehow or to be destroyed and neutralized. They were going to light the fuse for this. The USA, Britain, and Israel had already stated that a new process had begun in the Middle East when the conspiracy took place. Rêber Apo said that World War III had begun. One of the reasons for the conspiracy was the intervention in the Middle East, and the other was to solve the Kurdish question on the basis of Rêber Apo’s paradigm. This did not align with the plans of the capitalist powers. Therefore, they wanted to intervene in Iraq by risking World War III to realize the ‘Greater Middle East Project’ and neutralize the Kurdish issue.

The first stage of the conspiracy was the handover of Rêber Apo to the Turkish state; the second stage was the disintegration of the PKK; and the third stage was the neutralization of Rêber Apo over time. They approached the PKK with such schemes. These external powers wanted to create alternatives according to their own benefits. People who had never shed a drop of blood or made any effort for the Kurdish people saw this as an opportunity. They wanted to disband the party by driving people away from it, but they failed. Nevertheless, the conspiracy was realized. Rêber Apo spoke about false friends in this regard. He revealed the hypocrisy of Greece, the hypocrisy of the USSR, and the true face of the forces of capitalist modernity. Again, the necessities of comradeship were not fulfilled.

When the conspiracy happened, everyone was shocked at first. Everywhere the Kurdish people lived, especially in the prisons, many people carried out self-sacrifice actions under the ‘You cannot darken our sun’ campaign for the future of themselves and the movement. Rêber Apo’s greatness must be seen here. He took responsibility, saw the situation of the Kurdish people, and realized that the occupying forces were playing with the future of the Kurds. Without Rêber Apo, the struggle of the Kurdish people would have been defeated again. That is why Rêber Apo took responsibility; he took the most difficult decision and said, “I have to live.” Not for himself, but for the Kurdish people, for the Freedom Movement, he said, “I must frustrate this conspiracy.” Then he sent a message saying, “Enough is enough! The solution is not self-immolation and martyrdom. The blood of the martyrs must not remain on the ground; we must be worthy of them, but these actions must stop.”

With his intervention, Rêber Apo brought the movement to its senses and brought the process to a more correct agenda. He made a lot of political efforts. He created the new paradigm. This is how the conspiracy against Rêber Apo and our movement was frustrated. No one believed that it would come to naught. As a result of Rêber Apo’s resistance and efforts, the struggle has continued on for 25 years. No one should live a comfortable life without the physical freedom of Rêber Apo. The conspiracy continues today. Yes, the existence of Rêber Apo, the paradigm he developed, the fact that the movement could not be liquidated, and the uninterrupted continuation of the struggle are historical things, but Rêber Apo is still in prison. Therefore, the conspiracy continues with different methods.

On the 25th anniversary of the conspiracy, Kurdish People’s Leader Öcalan’s ideas and thoughts are being received with great enthusiasm and hope at the international level. What is the reason for the universalization of Mr Öcalan’s ideas and thoughts?

To answer this question, it is necessary to look at it from a historical perspective. Such influential ideas affect not only a region or a society, but the whole of humanity. This was always the case in history. Sometimes these figures appeared as prophets, sometimes as philosophers, and left their mark on history. These come once every hundred years. Rêber Apo is also like this.

At the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, important developments took place in the world. After the collapse of real socialism and the formation of a polarized world, humanity fell into an ideological vacuum. After real socialism, there were many people who believed that there would be a revolution in Germany. When they saw that it did not happen, they fell into disbelief and comitted suicide. Such a psychology was created after the collapse of real socialism. People saw that there was nothing spiritual or ideological left to give them hope, morale, and motivation.

Rêber Apo was, of course, following the changes and transformations in the world, but he developed and deepened the paradigm on the prison island of Imrali. This was the greatest response to the conspiracy and the good news given to humanity. Rêber Apo gave hope to the people with the paradigm he developed. Those who were in search, who were under the oppression of capitalist modernity, and who did not know how to struggle against racism saw the answer to their questions in Rêber Apo’s paradigm. Especially the system of ‘Democratic Modernity’ had a great impact after Rêber Apo’s prison writings were published and distributed in different languages. If women and young people anywhere in the world see hope in this paradigm, if they rise up on this basis, if they search for it, we should know very well that there is something very honorable here, an important strength, and nothing can prevent this.

When we look at it, from Bangladesh to Mexico, from the Middle East to all over the world, the voices of women are rising; they say that they see their freedom in this paradigm, in the reality of Rêber Apo. Reading and discussing the prison writings of Rêber Apo has a bigger impact on people than expected. Because this paradigm is the answer to everyone’s search. In the 21st century, the paradigm of Rêber Apo illuminates the future of people and humanity. Societies, especially women, see democratic and free life here. Therefore, the ideas and thoughts of Rêber Apo will spread more, will be loved, and will be more effective. This is a historical response to the conspiracy.

In order to end the isolation of Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan, on the one hand prisoners in Kurdistan and Turkey are on hunger strike, on the other hand Kurdish people and their international friends outside are organizing demonstrations. How do you evaluate this situation?

We evaluate the situation from time to time. The agenda of the Kurdish people is Rêber Apo. When the conspiracy of 15th February took place, the first self-sacrifice action was carried out by Halit Oral. Then these actions spread. Reflexes developed stronger in the prisons. Here I would like to salute all our comrades who are in resistance. And I can tell that when they organize themselves according to Rêber Apo, they will definitely achieve positive results. The prisons have an important role and mission, I think that the actions of prisoners will continue.

Outside, mothers have begun hunger strikes. I especially send my greetings and respect to them. Mothers who have reached that age are taking responsibility. I listened to one mother’s speech. She was about 70-80 years old and said: “We promised, we will either die or be successful. There is no option other than to be successful, we will resist until the end”. This is a spirit, a stance.

The important thing is that everyone should receive this message and think about how to respond to it. They should also think conscientiously. There are deficiencies at this point. Accordingly I would like to say a few words especially for Kurdish youth. Universities are the pulse of society. How could these young people be so comfortable? How are they students, where is their energy? For example, they have decided to send a thousand postcards for Rêber Apo; of course it is very valuable, very important, I greet this decision. It is very important even if they throw a stone, it is very meaningful even if they take a small action against the enemy, or if they rise up. But young people need to be more radical, they need to rally around these mothers, it is not enough to just visit them. We are not going through normal days, we are experiencing extraordinary days. We do not know how Rêber Apo is doing, no news has been received for 3 years. There is nothing like this in the world. No one knows whether he is alive or not, what his health condition may be. This is a reason for the Kurdish youth to rise up. Our 50-year struggle has a history, it has thousands of martyrs, and still in the mountains of Kurdistan, honorable young women and men struggle and resist everyday with their heads held high. Every conscientious person must take a stand against oppression and injustice.

Of course we have hope. Mothers are on hunger strike, no news has been received from Rêber Apo for 3 years, Kurdish youth and Kurdish women must rise up against this situation. They should not be content with praying, throwing stones, or sending postcards. Yes, we respect all this, but more radical actions must be developed. The current period is a period that requires this. Our comrades in prison have been on hunger strike for more than two months, again, mothers in Kurdistan and Turkey are on hunger strike. These actions should develop more, have more participation and have more impact on the international arena and politics. Every Kurd should think, as a human being, when they put their heads down on their pillows in the evening; they should ask themselves the question ‘How should I play my role against this oppression, what should I do in the face of Rêber Apo’s situation, the hunger strike of the mothers, the guerrilla’s resistance against chemical weapons and the heavy blows to the enemy’. If there is a question somewhere, there will be an answer, there will be a search.

The genocidal attacks on North/South Kurdistan and Rojava3 by the regime of AKP-MHP continue. At the same time the Turkish army is suffering heavy blows from the guerrilla. How do you evaluate the ongoing war and the attacks against the Kurdish people?

The Kurdish people are a political people. They see their future. Undoubtedly, there is a belief in Rêber Apo’s policy of freedom and the democratization of society. Our 50 years of struggle, resistance and experience is a historical achievement, we also believe in this. But we also need to know this; the process we are in, as I stated, is not a normal process. The Kurdistan guerrilla forces, the ‘People’s Defense Forces’ (HPG) and ‘Free Women’s Units’ (YJA Star), have dealt heavy blows to the enemy in the ongoing tunnel warfare. A historical resistance is being displayed against the most advanced technique and chemical weapons. On this occasion, once again I bow in front of all our martyrs and commemorate them with respect. I lovingly greet the comrades who are currently resisting in the battle positions. They represent the future of the Kurdish people and humanity, history is being written by them.

But our people and everyone should know this very well; we must never become complacent. Feeling content is betrayal for the Kurdish people, for us. We should neither forget nor be complacent. Complacency takes people away from the reality. Nothing should make us become complacent. We are struggling in a period of the most severe processes. There are many opportunities and possibilities for us to achieve historical results, but there are also great dangers. Therefore, there should be faith, hope, morale and enthusiasm, but these should not be reasons for complacency or justification for throwing responsibilities to others. Everyone must play their part. Mothers, youth, women, children; some should revolt, some should pray, some should throw stones, everyone should do something. They should not just sit and watch, they should not say that our friends are resisting and our work is going on. There is no doubt that the guerrilla is resisting, but everyone must resist and play their role.

The fact that the enemy has become so savage is because it has reached a breaking point. The enemy also feels that it’s end is coming, and because of this fear, it is becoming even more brutal. Wherever there is a Kurdish gain, it aims to destroy it. In the mountains of Kurdistan, attacks against the guerrilla continue uninterruptedly. The guerrilla responds to these attacks. Again, the Turkish state attacks the border villages of Rojava 24/7 to force the people to migrate. The people of Rojava have been paying the price for years. But they have seen days when they lived without an identity, and now they also saw the a free life provided by the revolution created as a result of price and struggle. That is why the people of Rojava are resisting and will continue to resist against all attacks.

The Turkish state is drowning as a result of this war, their economy has collapsed. Erdoğan seems so arrogant but whoever he sees is begging for money, begging for weapons. Society is paying the bill. Remzi Kartal4 was talking about this in a television program recently. Some researchers estimate that the bill for the 40-year war against the PKK and the Kurdish people is 3 trillion 600 billion dollars. With this money, Turkey would have grown 4 times more, become stronger, democratized and the welfare of life would have increased. But the people are now poor and hungry. Despite this, the Turkish state persists in the war. Erdogan’s role is to wage war against the PKK. But he has reached the ending point. Their politics is blocked. For the first time in 50 years, our people and movement are in a position to utilize the opportunities very well and achieve historic results. The only condition is that everyone plays their role in this process.

Recently, MIT5 officials, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Defense have visited Hewlêr [Erbil] and Baghdad. What is the purpose and frame of these meetings?

Everyone should know well that the main subject of the talks is the PKK. The Turkish state will make whatever concessions are necessary for this because it is looking for partners and friends. There is only one goal, only one conversation, and that is the PKK. They target Şengal and Rojava because Kurds have gains there, but the main target is the guerrilla and the PKK. First Ibrahim Kalin6 and then Yaşar Güler7 visited Baghdad. The Turkish state still has an Ottoman obsession. They say that Iraq “was a province of ours, how come they don’t do what we want”. They consider themselves superior. They have already occupied the territory of Iraq and South Kurdistan enough. They have placed their troops in dozens of points and have a hand in all the problems in Iraq. Kirkuk, Şengal, Mosul, Turkmen, Sunni, ‘Kurdistan Democratic Party’ (KDP) etc; in other words, they want to adjust Iraq in every issue. They have assumed such a role and are asking for support for the war in Iraq and South Kurdistan. Of course, Iraq should not give support. Iraq also has problems and weaknesses, but it is a separate state and country. No state tramples on its honor and says to an occupying power, “Come in, occupy my territory, fight on my territory”.

We do not think that Iraq will make a dirty co-operation with the Turkish state at this point. Such a thing would not be right, nor would it be in Iraq’s interest. There is no reason for such a thing to happen according to the Kurdish people’s and the PKK’s perspective. But the Turkish state is seeking and endeavoring in this way. After Baghdad, they came to Hewlêr, the capital of South Kurdistan. They held talks with Massoud Barzani, Nechirvan Barzani and Masrour Barzani. The result of the talks was that they will continue their relations that they have had until today. These are not honorable or beneficial relations for the Kurds. They should not continue in the future.

I would like to say this to the Kurdish people, to the people of Hewlêr, to all those who are around the KDP; let’s look at it conscientiously, on the one hand there is a state that does not accept the identity of the Kurdish people, that massacres and persecutes them every day, and on the other hand there is a Kurdish movement fighting for the freedom, identity and rights of the Kurdish people and for the democratization of Turkey. The people of South Kurdistan should say to the KDP, “What are you doing with the enemy of the Kurds, the Turkish state, you are doing wrong, the PKK is Kurdish, what harm has it done to us, you may have disagreements, but this is not a reason to fight against the PKK by uniting with the invaders”. They should say that this is not moral, this is not the right policy. Our people need to think about this.

I also say this for the KDP; look at history! The Turkish state is a state that executed its own ancestors. Erdoğan would sell even his father for power. The KDP also knows this, they need to be a little brave. They do not necessarily have to be friends with or support the PKK. Let’s leave this aside, but they should not join forces with the occupiers and fight against the PKK. This will gain them nothing. Lets remember 2017 when the referendum for an independent state was held, wasn’t the Turkish state the first to mass its tanks on the border, pointing fingers, threatening? Without the PKK, they will not accept the autonomy in South Kurdistan either. They’re being forced. Our people must also take a stand against this. The KDP should give up this policy. The Turkish state is an occupying state. If they have schemes of breaking the resistance and destroying the PKK, the KDP should look at the past. For 50 years they could not do this. During the international conspiracy, everyone said, “This time it is over, the PKK is doomed,” but nothing like this has happened, nor will it happen. If you cannot obtain results, why do you insist? Talks mean the continuation of the war. Our demand is that the KDP should stay away from such policies.

The Turkish state uses the PKK as a justification, but was the PKK there in the Azerbaijan-Armenia war? In Syria, it uses the PKK as a justification as well, but the real aim is to occupy the whole of Syria. It wants to determine the future of Syria itself. It has placed thousands of gangs. What is the Turkish state doing in Libya? Wherever the Turkish state is, the problems are getting bigger, and it brings war there. It is the same in the whole of Middle East. The Middle Eastern society actually knows what kind of fabric the Turkish state is made of. They react against the Turkish state. But the reality of the powers is different. The Third World War in the Middle East started with the conspiracy. The Middle East will be democratized with the physical liberation of Rêber Apo, the resolution of the Kurdish question through democratic means and the democratization of Turkey. The only solution to the problems in the Middle East are the concepts of ‘Democratic Nation’ and ‘Democratic Modernity’. This is the PKK and the paradigm of Rêber Apo. The PKK is effective in the Middle East at this point. If the Kurdish question is solved through these methods, the problems in the Middle East will also be solved. The KDP should also think and act in this way.

On 17 February, a big rally will be held in Cologne, Germany for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo. What is your message regarding the rally?

On 17 February, the march for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo is very important. The campaign ‘Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan, a Political Solution to the Kurdish Question’ has spread all over the world. Many friendly institutions, organizations and institutions have taken to the streets to express their stance. This is a great honor for the Kurdish people and their friends. On this basis, a big march will be held on 17 February. Just as our people in Europe turned towards Rome with hundreds of thousands of people when Rêber Apo went to Rome during the conspiracy process, just as all of our people in four parts of Kurdistan rose up, the hope, love and belief of then should also be present today.

On 17 February, all of our people in Europe, women, youth, children, old people, everyone should participate in this march. Because this march will affect our future. With this consciousness, this passion, this excitement, morale and motivation, we must take to the field and make a historic march. Anyone who does not participate in such a process is a sinner in my opinion. I believe that every Kurd will play a role at this point. On this occasion, I congratulate and wish success to everyone who organizes, prepares and will participate in the march.

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.

2 Refering to Abdullah Öcalan.

3 North Kurdistan refers to southeastern Turkey. South Kurdistan refers to northern Iraq. And Rojava, which is Kurdish for ‚west‘, refers to northeastern Syria.

4 Co-chair of Kongra Gel and former MP for the ‘Democracy Party’ (DEP) in Turkey

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

6 Head of the MIT.

7 Turkish Minister of Defense.