BEHDINAN – An interview with Duran Kalkan, member of the KCK Executive Council, about the continued international efforts to bring an end to Abdullah Öcalan´s isolation, the most recent developments regarding Turkey´s attacks on South Kurdistan, the latest attacks of the Iraqi army on Şengal [Sinjar] and the importance of increased international protest against Turkey´s war policy:
The isolation of the Kurdish people´s leader Abdullah Öcalan is still ongoing and continues to have a huge impact on the region. How do you evaluate isolation and the struggle against it?
First of all, I would like to respectfully greet the resistance on İmralı and also Önder Apo [Abdullah Öcalan] himself. Yes, the increased isolation continues. This does not only mean that we aren`t receiving any news from İmralı, but that the heavy pressure and torture there continue. We are talking about ongoing physical and psychological torture. The requests of his lawyers and family to visit Önder Apo are left without any response. On İmralı, we are faced with a torture and isolation system that does not recognize any legal or moral rules. This system is being implemented by the fascist AKP-MHP government and the global capitalist system. Therefore, the İmralı system is an expression of the true face of the global system. It also shows the true face of Turkey´s system. Whoever wants to understand the ideological and political stance of somebody, simply needs to look at their stance regarding the isolation and torture system on İmralı. İmralı is the place where you can understand who is a real democrat and who opts for oppressive dictatorship. Currently, there are absolutely no changes regarding the situation on İmralı. Not only do the heavy pressure, isolation and torture on İmralı continue, but also the occupation of Kurdistan and the Kurdish genocide are ongoing. Recently, a new attack has been started on [the South Kurdish areas] Zap and Avaşîn. These attacks are closely connected to the torture and isolation system on İmralı.
Of course, these attacks and the occupation are not only directed against the areas Zap and Avaşîn. They constitute an attack on all Kurds, all four parts of Kurdistan, the Kurdish people living outside of their country and on the existence and freedom of the Kurds. Therefore, this is not only an attack on the Kurds, but on all peoples of the Middle East and on humanity as a whole. This is an attack on the free and democratic life of humanity. We know this very well. The fascist, genocidal and aggressive mentality and policy continue in full force. They continue on the streets, in the schools, the cities and the villages. In the form of oppression and tyranny, they continue against the guerrilla forces, all peoples and women and against all workers and the working population. In this world, nothing exists that is not being affected by the isolation and torture system on İmralı. Therefore, taking a stance against this system on İmralı does not only mean to support the Kurds or simply to show solidarity with Önder Apo.
Actually, taking such a stance needs to be understood as part of the struggle for a free and democratic world. Because everybody is in need of a free life and a democratic government. All peoples, all of humanity need such a world. Exactly because this kind of world does not exist today, the isolation and torture system on İmralı still continues. Therefore, yes, this struggle can be understood as a sign of solidarity with the Kurdish people and Önder Apo. But actually, this struggle means that everybody is also fighting for their own freedom and democracy. Therefore, it is important to wage a more organized struggle. Especially the international developments regarding this struggle are very important and meaningful. The Catalonian parliament has recently taken a clear stance. And the lawyers have taken initiatives on an international level. They continue to put pressure on the CPT [European Committee for the Prevention of Torture] in order to break the torture and isolation system in İmralı. These recent efforts are extremely meaningful and important. In the name of our party and our people, I would like to thank everybody involved for their efforts.
For more than three weeks, the war in Zap and Avaşîn has been going on. What is the current situation in these areas? What has Turkey been able to achieve so far in this war?
For more than three weeks, the occupation and genocide attacks of AKP-MHP fascism have been going on in Zap and Avaşîn. It is important for everybody to recognize that this is the heaviest war both the Turkish state and the Kurdish people have waged so far. This war is much more intense and heavy than all the wars before. This is especially true for the level of violence. We are looking at a 24/7 attack with the help of the most modern war technology. In Zap and Avaşîn, the future and the fate of the Kurdish people is being determined. Through the heroic resistance of the guerrilla forces, AKP-MHP fascism is now being buried in Zap and Avaşîn.
At the end of the first two weeks of the attacks, our Central Command issued a balance sheet regarding the war. Every day, new figures are being published. After two weeks, it was reported that more than 300 occupiers had been killed or wounded. Now, the third week of the attacks has come to an end. So we can expect that by now a total of 400 to 500 occupiers have been killed or wounded. Yet, the Turkish state simply ignores and hides all this. Recently, they started to be in need of more chauvinism. They are now openly showing the corpses of their killed soldiers. They try to get the people to attend the burial ceremonies and thus fuel their racism, chauvinism and nationalism. But what does all this really show? It shows what kind of situation and defeat the Turkish state is experiencing in Zap and Avaşîn. The Turkish state has really gotten stuck there. Its plans have been defeated by the resistance of the guerrilla forces in Zap and Avaşîn.
The Turkish state has deployed all kinds of fascists and proxy forces to Zap and Avaşîn. They have been preparing for this attack for months and years. So we are not faced with a regular army, but with mercenaries whose only purpose is to carry out massacres. Ideologically speaking, they are all racist, chauvinistic and nationalist MHP members. And they also include Islamic proxy forces like the Islamic State [IS] and Al-Nusra that had earlier been deployed as part of the attacks on Idlib and Efrîn. Now, they are also using paid village guards. The Turkish state has succeeded in getting the KDP in line with its own policy. They are deploying all tyrannic, murderous and cruel forces available to them in Zap and Avaşîn. The Turkish state had planned to achieve results there, but the actual reality is more than obvious. It is obvious that they have reached a dead end and are experiencing a serious break down. The media has also been reporting about this.
There are reports about many corpses [of Turkish soldiers] that have been brought to [the North Kurdish areas of] Gever and Çelê and about filled morgues there. All this is real. The numbers that are being published by our Central Command are also absolutely true. They can even be considered too low. So, the losses of the Turkish state are even greater. All this clearly shows that they are breaking down. We can see this clearly when we look at two recent developments. First, they have recently tried to organize burial ceremonies in many different places. This is a clear sign of their military failure in Zap and Avaşîn. Otherwise, they wouldn´t have wanted to do this. But now, they feel the need to mobilize society with the help of their racist, chauvinistic and nationalistic propaganda, to deceive the people and make them attack the Kurds. Secondly, they are directly attacking the Kurds. We all saw how they went to the party center of the HDP, insulted women there and destroyed HDP cars.
They have started to go on a manhunt for Kurds. It almost seems like they will attempt to lynch Kurds everywhere. What does all this show? It shows that they are breaking down. Therefore, we can clearly say that AKP-MHP fascism is being buried in Zap and Avaşîn today. The fascist, genocidal mentality and policy of Turkey are being defeated in Kurdistan. It is currently suffering its greatest defeat ever there. This mentality and policy which were created by the İttihat ve Terakki [Committee of Union and Progress; active at end of 19. and beginning of 20. century] will be defeated! Thus, the society of Turkey will be freed from this tyranny that it has been suffering under for 130 years. This is definitely the kind of influence that the struggle in Kurdistan is having on Turkey today.
AKP-MHP fascism was defeated during the war in 2021. So, it could have refrained from carrying out yet another attack of this kind. They also made some attempts to this end but eventually they opted for this new attack. Because AKP-MHP fascism doesn´t have any other chance to remain in power. It opts for war in order to remain on its feet. The kind of policy that is based on this racist, chauvinistic, fascist and genocidal mentality that is hostile towards the Kurds knows only this way. The war in Ukraine also had a certain influence on their decision. Apparently, in order to keep the AKP-MHP in the anti-Russian camp, the USA and NATO have given a green light for the AKP-MHP government to attack the PKK.
Germany and England are the forces that are most complicit in these attacks. They are smuggling oil out of the region and are now planning to do the same with gas. Due to the war in Ukraine, they can´t receive any gas from Russia, China and other Asian countries anymore and are now trying to fix this by smuggling gas out of the Middle East with the help of the KDP and Turkey. That is why these forces demand the KDP and Turkey to destroy the PKK since they say that the PKK prevents these plans. That is how they are provoking the attacks against the PKK. They support and encourage these attacks. So on the one hand, there is the policy based on a racist, chauvinistic and genocidal mentality, and on the other hand there is the attempt to smuggle gas and oil and thus make even more money. Germany and England are responsible for the current occupation attacks. And the KDP also encourages the attacks. The media that is affiliated with the AKP-MHP has repeatedly said that they will proclaim the Misak-ı Milli in 2023. This means that they seek to occupy the whole Middle East. They talk about all this very openly.
Germany, the USA and England seek to receive gas from the region and thus allow for a comfortable life in their countries. That is why they make the AKP and KDP attack the PKK thus paving the way for the current developments. It is important for everybody to recognize this. Yes, the PKK continues to resist. But if the PKK is ever crushed, the Kurdish genocide will be completed and then it will be the turn of all other Kurdish organizations. There will simply be no more Kurdish organizations left. Today, all the responsibility for the existence and freedom of the Kurdish people lies on the shoulders of the PKK. Therefore, if the PKK is crushed, the Kurdish genocide will be completed. After that, it will be the turn of the Arabs and other nations. This ongoing phase started on August 26, 2016 when the Turkish army crossed the border and occupied Cerablus [in North Syria]. At the same time, on that very same day, the Turkish army also started an attack on the Medya Defense Zones from [the North Kurdish area of] Çelê.
On that day, when AKP-MHP fascism and the Turkish army crossed the border into Iraq and Syria thus starting their occupation attack, US Vice President Joe Biden was in Ankara, just like the KDP Party Chairman Mesut Barzani. While Erdogan was giving the order for the attack, Biden and Barzani were with him. They started this attack together. This war has been going on without any interruption for six years now. Today, it continues in the form of the attacks on Zap and Avaşîn. If they succeed with these occupation attacks, they will start attacking even more places. At the UN, Erdogan showed a map of the area that he wants to occupy. He claims that this is an Ottoman area that belong to them and that they will take it back. The US Vice President of that time is now the President of the USA. So, we need to ask the following question: Has the USA really given Kurdistan, Arabia and the Middle East to Turkey? Is this the policy of US President Biden? They say that they are against the Armenian genocide, but today AKP-MHP fascism is carrying out a genocide against the Kurds and is receiving the biggest military and political support for this from the USA. So, is the USA against the Kurdish genocide or does it support it? The leadership of the Democratic Party, but also of the Republican Party and the US state itself need to take a clear stance on this issue. Do the USA and NATO support Turkey´s occupation plan? Do the USA and NATO say `yes´ to the Kurdish genocide that is being carried out by the Turkish state? If they do say ´yes´, what is their stance against the Armenian genocide really worth? If you claim to be taking a stance against a genocide that happened 100 years ago and shed tears about this, why are you not against a genocide that is happening right now? Truly taking a stance would mean doing something against today´s genocide. Everything else just means acting for the sake of your own interests.
The KDP needs to take a clear stance as well. We have said before that the KDP has sold certain areas [of South Kurdistan]. Yes, it has sold them. And it continues to support the occupation with all its power. So, does the KDP say ´yes´ to the occupation of Kurdistan by Turkey? Do all members of the KDP accept this? Do the patriots and intellectuals in the KDP also agree with this? The stance of the current KDP leadership is clear. It uses pretexts like: `We don´t have any other chance. Turkey is putting pressure on us. Without our relations with Turkey and the trade we do with them, there would be hunger and life would be impossible in South Kurdistan`. But this claim is simply not true. South Kurdistan definitely does not need Turkey in any way. It can provide for its needs through trade with other regions or by its own production.
They also claim that Turkey is putting pressure on and threatening them. They claim: `We are not strong enough. We cannot resist. The PKK puts us in a difficult situation. How could we ever fight against Turkey?` This attitude is wrong. But let´s say you are really not able to fight. Well, then resign from the government. If you cannot do this, if you are unable to fight and to protect Kurdistan, resign from government. There are other parties, e.g. the PUK, Goran and Komela. And there are the KCK and the guerrilla forces. If there is another government in Hewlêr, everybody will see how well it will provide for the needs of the people, how it will resist the attackers and protect Kurdistan. The KCK and the guerrilla are up for this. Just like the other Kurdish parties are up for this, too.
Now, when I say this, they will probably respond by saying: `We have been democratically elected. This is how many votes we received. If you want to be in the government, take part in the elections.` Let us speak the truth here: Everybody knows what the elections that they are talking about were like. Is there really any democracy, equality and justice [in South Kurdistan]? Do democratic and just elections really take place there? Absolutely not. These elections are characterized by force, threats, fraud and cheating. The elections [in South Kurdistan] have absolutely no meaning. They have nothing to do with reality.
The KDP won´t benefit at all from calling the PKK a `terrorist organization`. They didn´t call IS a terrorist organization at the time, but are now speaking of `PKK-terror´. What `terror` do you think you are talking about? The heroic guerrilla forces of the PKK are shedding their blood every single day to protect the mountains, valleys and plains of Kurdistan against the occupier. Whoever collaborates with Turkey and the AKP-MHP will suffer the same end as the AKP-MHP. Therefore, both the international system and the KDP need to recognize this reality. If they don´t, that is their problem. In this case, the end that the AKP-MHP is experiencing now in Zap and Avaşîn will also entail a very bad ending for them.
Together with the start of the war in Zap and Avaşîn, the Iraqi army also increased its attacks on Şengal [Sinjar]. What are the reasons for these attacks especially at this point in time?
Instead of taking a military and political stance against the occupation attacks of Turkey in Avaşîn and Zap, the Iraqi state attacked Şengal at the same time. It is very difficult to understand why Iraq is acting like Şengal was the country´s only problem and why it has declared this area its top priority. The people of Şengal, its women and self-defense forces put up a brave resistance against the recent attacks. I would like to greet all those who resisted and congratulate them on their resistance. Just like a resistance against IS took place which prevented a genocide and saved humanity from a huge threat, now the people of Şengal and [their self-defense forces] YBŞ/YJŞ have given şehits [fallen] and resisted again. This is a very important and meaningful development. This shows that the people can resist and gain victory by relying on their own strength.
As our party and movement, we will always stand at the side of the democratic autonomy of the people of Şengal. We will always stand side by side with them against the occupation and genocide attacks. Our Ezidi-Kurdish people know this. We have said repeatedly, that nobody should force the PKK to intervene in Şengal again.
While the Turkish state is occupying Iraqi earth, it makes absolutely no sense for the Iraqi army to attack Şengal, especially on a holy religious holiday of the Ezidis. We find it difficult to understand how the Iraqi state was able to do this. As far as we understand, there is a lot of pressure on the Iraqi state. They have formed a coalition with Turkey and the KDP. They use the so-called October 9 Agreement as a pretext. But all this is just a made up story! Such an agreement does not exist. The Ezidi Group in the Iraqi Parliament has openly rejected this agreement. This is the right stance to take. Any decision that is taken without the participation of the Ezidis won´t be binding for Şengal.
Turkey and the KDP are putting pressure on Iraq. That is true. Yet, it seems like the USA encouraged the Iraqi state to carry out these recent immoral attacks. Without the USA, the current Iraqi government would not have attacked in such a way. It would not have heeded to the KDP and Turkey this much. The USA is putting pressure on Iraq thus making it carry out such attacks. This is absolutely certain. What does the USA want to achieve with its attacks on the PKK? What does it seek to establish in Kurdistan with the help of the KDP? It is important for everybody to understand the answers to these questions. It accepts whatever the KDP asks for. Because it is the KDP that also makes the USA put pressure on Iraq. Yes, Turkey is putting pressure on Iraq, but the heaviest pressure comes from the KDP. So, it was the USA that put pressure on the Iraqi state thus making it attack Şengal. Yet, it eventually recognized that the situation had become really dangerous. Now, they want to solve the problem and recognize the will of the Ezidi-Kurdish society through dialogue and common agreements. They are now talking directly to this society that has also suffered 74 genocides. Thus, they want them to live a free life. This is the most democratic and human attitude possible.
The attitude of the KDP is very bad. They fled [in 2014] in front of the eyes of everybody. Therefore, they need to admit that they fled and promise to never do this again. This would allow everybody, including themselves, to free themselves of this burden. But with their current attitude, the KDP won´t get anywhere. The KDP needs to free itself from its hostility against Şengal. It needs to make up for fleeing from Şengal by adopting a self-critical, patriotic and democratic attitude. Furthermore, the KDP won´t get anywhere by fighting against the PKK. It won´t benefit from this at all. The KDP might be able to save the day, but all of its attacks against the PKK will simply hurt itself. In South Kurdistan, the people and many Peshmerga see this very clearly and reject the war against the PKK. Their attitude is right and very meaningful. Yet, the protests need to become broader. There needs to be intense pressure on the KDP leadership. The people of South Kurdistan need to definitely take a stance against these developments. Zap and Avaşîn is their land. They need to support the guerrilla forces. Many youth have recently joined the guerrilla forces. We congratulate them on this decision. Yet, this number alone is not enough. The South Kurdish people need to collectively stand against Turkey´s attacks. They have the right to do so. This is their duty. Patriotism demands this of them. So, they really need to make the KDP take the right stance here.
What does the KDP leadership want to do? Ok, they might have saved the day, earned some money, but what will you do when they [Turkish state] want to annihilate you as well tomorrow? If they are really willing to give up their Kurdish identity, they should go and live in Istanbul. They have bought huge mansions there already and own a lot of property there. If they want to give up their country, they should do so now. But they definitely need to stop playing with the existence and freedom of the Kurdish people. They need to not become an instrument for the occupation and genocide in Kurdistan. They have become a new form of village guards. Just like the village guards in North Kurdistan, they are now playing the role of village guards in South Kurdistan. They need to save themselves from this. If they don´t, they will annihilate themselves. They might even admit that they have already given up all of this and that they only care about money. There is nothing I can say about that, but if they are only a little bit connected to their society, nation, patriotism and their country, this attitude will harm them. They need to recognize this and definitely let go of this attitude.
How do you evaluate the resistance of the guerrilla forces and the people against the occupation?
For more than three weeks, the guerrilla forces have been putting up a heroic resistance in Zap and Avaşîn. Of course, this is not an easy thing to do. The guerrilla forces are waging a war 24/7 and are resisting the occupation attacks that are being carried out with the help of the most modern war technology. The guerrilla forces succeed to do this by overcoming all the given obstacles and by thus showing an almost superhuman attitude. They do all this based on a huge amount of bravery and selflessness, and by giving şehits. In the name of the leadership of our party, I would like to congratulate the guerrilla forces on their heroic resistance that has already dealt heavy blows to AKP-MHP fascism and has thus brought it to the brink of collapse. And I would also like to greet all the heroic commanders and members of the HPG and YJA-Star.
For six years now, we have been resisting the uninterrupted occupation attacks and have given huge sacrifices in the course of this. We will continue our resistance until we have reached victory. This resistance will definitely lead to victory. There is absolutely no reason for anybody to have doubts about this. Victory might come sooner or later. We might have to give bigger or smaller sacrifices. But the Kurdish people, the Kurdish guerrilla forces and the PKK will definitely win. Today, the war is not only limited to Zap and Avaşîn, but is taking place in all parts of Kurdistan and Turkey. AKP-MHP fascism wants to encircle the guerrilla forces in a narrow area and thus annihilate them there. So, we are spreading the war as a response. We don´t respond to these attacks only in a narrow area, but have declared all of Kurdistan and Turkey a war zone. Consequently, the war is taking place everywhere in Kurdistan and Turkey.
Elsewhere, important resistances have taken place and have thus united with the resistance in Zap and Avaşîn. In the Medya Defense Zones, from Xakurkê to Heftanîn, but also in Efrîn and Bursa, important actions have been carried out which have dealt huge blows to AKP-MHP fascism. This has shown how widespread and strong the anti-fascist struggle of the guerrilla forces and the PKK is. This resistance will only continue to grow stronger. Therefore, I would like to greet the Efrîn Liberation Forces, the HBDH militias and the YPS fighters and wish them success for their struggle against AKP-MHP fascism. I would also like to congratulate them on their successful actions. These actions are an expression of their common spirit, goal and resistance against fascism.
At the same time, the youth, women and our people are carrying out democratic protests. We can see this in all four parts of Kurdistan. Day and night, our people outside of Kurdistan, our people in Europe are on the streets. All this has turned the resistance which is being led by the resistance on Imrali and by the guerrilla forces into a national people´s resistance for freedom. So, there is a really huge resistance. The revolutionary-democratic forces of Turkey and the world have also joined this resistance thus creating a broad coalition for the struggle. I would like to greet everybody who is taking part in our offensive of the 50. anniversary of our struggle and who is taking a clear stance against the colonialist and genocidal occupation attacks of AKP-MHP fascism. I would like to wish all of them success.
The Kurdish youth need to not remain passive but stand up wherever they are. They can do all sorts of actions. They have the power to do this. In North Kurdistan and the cities of Turkey, they can do a lot of things. The Turkish state continues to attack South Kurdistan, Şengal and Rojava. Our people have the right to take revenge for these attacks. They have the duty and the responsibility to do this. In North Kurdistan, there are a lot advantages that we can make use of in order to increase our struggle. For example, there are thousands of Kurdish youth in the ranks of the military and the police. The Kurdish people need to finally refrain from serving the state. So, every youth, no matter where they are, needs to act and struggle like a Kurdish fighter. They need to attack the fascist, genocidal enemy for the sake of freedom and democracy. If they do this and if everybody stops providing support for the state, this state will collapse. Then, AKP-MHP fascism won´t be able to stay in its feet for one more day.
Therefore, we call on everybody who works within the state, especially the youth in the military, to hamper the functionality of the state and carry out their patriotic responsibility by fighting. Then, not only the AKP-MHP government, but the fascist, genocidal mentality and policy in Turkey will break down. This will lead to freedom for the Kurds and turn Turkey into a democratic country. Today, Turkey constitutes a huge burden for the Kurdish people, Arabia, the Middle East and humanity due to its fascist, genocidal mentality and policy. But once this mentality and policy have ceased to exist, Kurdistan will turn into a tower of freedom and Turkey will become a country that spreads freedom and democracy everywhere. If all of us live up to our tasks and responsibilities, victory is certain and near. By waging such a struggle, we will definitely succeed and achieve victory.