Originally published: https://kck-info.com/interview-kalkan-apr2023/

Parts of an interview with Duran Kalkan, member of the KCK Executive Council, about the latest developments in Kurdistan, the Middle East and the world, including new developments in the struggle for Abdullah Öcalan’s freedom, Turkey’s uncompromising stance towards the halt of all guerrilla attacks, the recent Turkish airstrike on Sulaymaniyah, conclusions to be drawn from the earthquake in Turkey and the great importance of the upcoming Turkish elections:

Imprisonment of Abdullah Öcalan – “The CPT is a committee that legitimizes torture”

This is not an ordinary situation there [on the Turkish prison island Imrali]. It is a very important situation that concerns not only the Kurds but all oppressed peoples, especially women and the working population. A historic struggle is taking place there. The isolation [of Abdullah Öcalan] is implemented on this basis. There are no new developments with regards to the isolation. There have been absolutely no changes. The political agenda in Turkey is changing, there are the upcoming elections and the ongoing war. It is debatable whether these things are really changing anything. These things happen, but is there really a change with regards to the political agenda? We think that this needs to be discussed. Real politics are not changing. There is no change in Imrali and in the torture, isolation and genocide system. But these are the real factors that determine politics in Turkey.”

“Now, there is lots of talk about the upcoming elections. Yet, there are no changes. There was the issue of the CPT going to Imrali, which has been discussed since last September. Finally, the CPT announced that it had finished its report and had sent it to the Turkish administration in March [2023]. This is the last statement on the isolation, the Imrali torture and genocide system. But there is no information about the content of this report. There is no information about what is included in it and what isn’t. The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture simply says ‘we sent it to them, the rest is up to the Turkish state’. That is, to the AKP-MHP fascist government. In other words, it is up to those who implement this isolation, the system of oppression and genocide in Imrali. The rest, they say, is up to them. Whether they publish it or not, whether they provide accurate information about its content or not. This is a remarkable situation. They [AKP-MHP government] are the ones who impose the isolation and run this system. If the CPT has taken decisions regarding the torture situation in Imrali during its visit to Turkey, there is no point in telling the AKP-MHP fascist dictatorship or the Turkish state about this. Because they are the ones doing all this. Those who are doing it of course know what is happening. What is the point of telling them what they are doing? They are doing all this on purpose. They [CPT] say that these are their rules, but we really cannot understand these rules. This has nothing to do with freedom and democracy and cannot be considered to be rules. If there is going to be a decision on the practices of the Turkish state and the AKP-MHP government in Imrali, this should at least be announced by the CPT. The CPT needs to create pressure, and its report should be sent to more institutions. It sends it to the perpetrator as if they didn’t know, and says that they are free to do whatever they want with it. They are the ones carrying out torture and implementing the isolation. Therefore, they won’t do nothing. They will just put the report in the shelf. The CPT has made this statement in order to relieve the pressure created by the protests of the Kurdish people and their international friends. But this did not work. It looks like they are doing something, but in fact they are not. There is deception and trickery involved. Thus, the CPT has given itself away more and more. It should not be like this. This is what the current situation looks like: The Imrali system is carried out in collaboration [of the Turkish state and international powers and institutions]. For 25 years, the isolation and torture of Kurds and the Imrali system have been carried out in collaboration. For more than 2 years, the complete isolation has also been carried out in collaboration.”

“Nevertheless, we need to expose them. This is a so-called legal system and democratic rule of law. But, all of this has nothing to do with democracy. There cannot be such a law that actually gives all kinds of authority to the torturer. The persecuted and the oppressed do not have any rights. It looks like there are rights, but in fact this [CPT] is a committee that legitimizes torture and cannot say anything to the torturers. So how will this committee prevent torture if it doesn’t say anything to the torturer? The situation on Imrali is not only the work of the Turkish state. It also reveals today’s state of European democracy and law. There is a unity [among these forces], and we need to emphasize this. We must not give up the legal struggle, but the main thing is of course the ideological and political struggle. The protests and activities continue. Lately, there have been important initiatives. All over the world, Kurdish people, their international friends, revolutionary democratic forces and intellectuals are standing up and marching for the freedom of Leader Apo [Abdullah Öcalan]. In other words, there is an attitude of support and unity of action for Leader Apo spreading from Amara [village where Abdullah Öcalan was born] to all four corners of the world. The April 4th celebrations [birthday of Abdullah Öcalan] were indeed numerous and strong. They show how the society, the Kurdish people and democratic circles are united with Leader Apo. Shortly after that, an important conference was held in Hamburg where Leader Apo’s ideas were discussed under the title ‘Challenging Capitalist Modernity’. Undoubtedly, the idea that challenges capitalist modernity is the theory of democratic modernity. Leader Apo has developed this theory which was discussed at this conference. Very important and serious discussions took place there among the world’s intellectuals, democratic revolutionary forces and libertarian democratic circles. This means that even though AKP-MHP fascism, with the support of the CPT, Europe and NATO, has tried to impose an unprecedented isolation, Leader Apo has broken this isolation. He has broken the walls of Imrali. He has thus shared his thoughts with the women, youth, workers, laborers and all oppressed people all over the world. Support for Leader Apo is growing and spreading like an avalanche all over the world today. The efforts to understand, adopt, integrate and put into practice the thoughts and theses of Leader Apo is growing like an avalanche and spreading all over the world. This includes all the oppressed, especially women. This is what is important, what is essential. This is what will destroy the Imrali torture and isolation system. This happened in a much more comprehensive way on the occasion of Leader Apo’s birthday this year. And it will continue in the future. In fact, it is precisely this struggle that determines politics and will bring about lasting results. This struggle will destroy the Imrali torture and isolation system, tear down the walls of Imrali, destroy fascism, make Turkey democratic and Kurdistan free. Thus, it will make the most important contribution in history to humanity’s march towards freedom.”

Halt of Guerrilla Attacks – “The AKP-MHP fascist dictatorship continues its attacks on an even higher level”

“After the severe earthquake on February 6, the leadership of our movement declared a halt of all military attacks by the guerrilla forces. Thus, it wanted to increase the possibility to heal the wounds of the people who had suffered greatly due to the earthquake. Later, despite all kinds of aggression by AKP-MHP fascism, our leadership took the decision to maintain this halt of all attacks until the election in order not to become a party to provocations in this process. This decision was publicly announced. Our halt of all attacks continues. We are acting in accordance with the decisions we have taken and the statements we have made. As long as there is no attack on the guerrilla, the guerrilla does not carry out any attacks. If there is an attack, the guerrilla defends itself. This applies to all freedom forces. Especially in terms of the cities [in Turkey], our administration has made a concrete call. Yet, this war cannot be stopped with a unilateral decision to halt all attacks. The halt of attacks must be bilateral. In the past, Leader Apo declared countless unilateral ceasefires. But why didn’t he get any response? Now this has become much clearer. The AKP-MHP fascist dictatorship continues its attacks on an even higher level in the Medya Defense Zones [areas in South Kurdistan/North Iraq]. It continues its attacks against the tunnels and bases of the guerrilla. And these attacks are not limited to these areas only. The AKP-MHP attack everywhere. Lately, they have carried out attacks in Çukurca, Merdin and Gever [areas in North Kurdistan]. Before that, attacks took place in Amed and Dersim. They attacked Sulaymaniyah and Şengal. And they attack Rojava every single day. They shoot at civilians, not just armed forces, there basically every night. They have declared all Kurds, all those who associate with the Kurds and cooperate with them on the basis of freedom as enemies and are attacking them. The HPG Press Center [HPG – People’s Defense Forces] publishes the results of these attacks on a daily basis. AKP-MHP fascism has not stopped its attacks. They even consider this decision [halt of all guerrilla attacks] as a weakness and want to take advantage of it. They are making up excuses to try to weaken the guerrilla even more.”

“This is how they reveal their real intentions. How aggressive they are, how they resort to all kinds of provocations and conspiracies; this can clearly be seen. This needs to be understood. Indeed, the attacks continue in Zap, Avaşîn, Metîna, Xakurkê and Heftanîn [all areas in South Kurdistan/North Iraq]. War planes carry out bombardments, drones strike these areas, just like helicopters, artillery and tanks do. Of course, when the guerrilla has to defend itself, it engages in defensive actions. It defends itself where it deems necessary. But the Turkish state does not stop. Everyone needs to know this.”

“The attacks of AKP-MHP fascism despite the halt of all guerrilla attacks declared after the February 6 earthquake needs to be recognized and understood. Everyone must assume responsibility. In fact, there have been a few statements from some circles, but they are weak. We still think that there need to be stronger attitudes, both from internal and external circles. No one should misunderstand the guerrilla and make any miscalculations on this basis. The decision to halt all attacks taken by our leadership due to a great moral and conscientious approach, taking into account the current political situation, should not be misunderstood. This decisions puts responsibility on everyone. It puts responsibility on all political circles, social circles and state forces. That is why we say that everyone needs to fulfill their responsibilities.”

“There were also attacks against the Medya Defense Zones in previous years. Today, we are witnessing the anniversary of the process in which the AKP-MHP fascist dictatorship launched an invasion attack against all of [the South Kurdish areas] Zap, Avaşîn and Metîna in order to occupy them completely. On April 14 [2022], the air strikes began. And on April 17, the ground attacks started. Although they have been attacking for a year using chemical weapons, tactical nuclear weapons, phosphor bombs, different kinds of forbidden bombs and all kinds of technical resources, with the support of everyone from NATO to Russia, they have not been able to occupy these areas. They have failed to achieve their goal of crushing the guerrilla. The guerrilla has waged one of the most meaningful resistances in history there. It has defeated the invasion attacks and thus prevented the enemy’s success. The AKP-MHP dreamed of invading Zap and then Rojava in a short time – thus crushing the PKK and completing the Kurdish genocide – and then carrying out elections, which were said to be held a month later, with a great victory. Now all their dreams have been shattered. The great guerrilla resistance has revealed this. We have seen during this one-year resistance that what is really decisive in war is the commitment to the cause, the sacrifice and courage of the fighters, their consciousness. Creativity, professionalism and heroism. In Zap, Avaşîn and Metîna, the Apoist spirit of resistance and victory, the spirit of sacrifice have fought and resisted. In such an environment of inequality, the guerrilla has not let this aggressive force that has all kinds of resources pass. This is very, very important, very meaningful. It shows that the guerrilla can carry out the freedom struggle of the peoples and the oppressed under all conditions. Everyone can learn a lesson here.”

Turkey’s Attack in Sulaymaniyah – “This is linked to the attacks against the PKK and to the elections”

“Two helicopters had crashed before the attack in Sulaymaniyah. Afterwards, the Turkish state announced the suspension of flights to Sulaymaniyah Airport. This recent attack came right afterwards. Statements threatening the PUK administration have recently been made [by Turkey]. They are constantly making statements to put pressure on the US. They hate the US for their partnership with the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] and the administration in North and East Syria in the fight against ISIS. The North and East Syrian administration has said the following publicly, and so have US representatives: ‘The AKP administration’s policy weakens our struggle against ISIS.’ The recent attack happened just before the elections. There had already been threats to the PUK. And this attack could be a threat to the US as well. The Turkish state is already constantly attacking North and East Syria. So this is all part of the recent attack.”

An attack recently took place on the SDF General Commander. He said that this was not the first attack. ‘I have been subjected to similar attacks many times, but all of them failed,’ he said. They have attacked not only Mazlum Abdi, but many other leaders in North and East Syria. This needs to be acknowledged first. We have indeed seen how people like Heval Şahin [Mazlum Abdi] are under surveillance. We must develop precautions accordingly, but the whole world must also recognize this reality. There must be an attitude against this. Of course, this attack is also related to the elections. AKP-MHP fascism has mobilized the MIT and the counter-guerrilla to the highest possible level in order to find and hit the PKK leadership. Based on the possible result they might thus achieve, they want to win the elections on May 14. This is very clear. They have done this in the past, and this has had some effect. Consequently, they are making the following calculation: ‘If we hit some members of the PKK leadership, some prominent Kurds, we will get votes from racist, chauvinist, fascist and nationalist circles in Turkey. We will unite all these votes and thus win the elections.’ Today, Tayyip Erdoğan’s election propaganda is completely based on this. The method he has chosen for the presidential election is the massacre of Kurds. It is the massacre of PKK leaders, Kurds who are fighting for freedom. Everyone needs to see this. The fact that this is seen as a normal situation shows what kind of a world we are living in. No one should consider this to be normal. How did the attack [in Sulaymaniyah] happen? Does this attack have any legitimacy? What is life in a world where such an attack takes place, what is the state of humanity? Everyone needs to discuss this. Everyone needs to take a clear stance in the face of the recent attack in Sulaymaniyah. Because everyone is responsible. Everyone is giving [the AKP-MHP government] a pass. They cooperate with this administration. They give money and establish relations with it. There are even those who want to help [the AKP-MHP government] win the election. They should be ashamed!”

“The other two points are that this is linked to the attacks against the PKK and to the elections. The Turkish Republic is not doing this by chance. For example, 10 years ago there were talks in Oslo [between the PKK and the Turkish state]. We always felt this when we heard the statements of the MIT delegation in Oslo: They are simply waiting for us to die. They were threatening us with that. ‘Your leadership is old, you cannot live for long, you will die. No one will continue this struggle.’ They are attacking to destroy the Kurdish will for freedom. They are pursuing a policy based on destruction and death. And they are doing this openly. They have created lists, red list, yellow list, green list, gray list. They have put 30-40 names and pictures on each list. These are not lists for people who are to be arrested, they are lists of people to be killed publicly. The Turkish state has published many of such lists. Tens of names, hundreds of names. It openly says, ‘I will kill them’. And it kills them every day. But no one says a word. Those who die are called terrorists, those who kill become friends. A lot of them [international powers] make friends with them. They do this in the name of democracy. This is really inconceivable. Our entire leadership, the PKK leadership, KCK, HPG, PAJK, Komalên Ciwan leadership, the KJK leadership and our leaders in all parts of Kurdistan are on these death lists. Attacks like this continue to happen. I mean, there is no other example like this in the world today. Yes, there are lists of people to be arrested, but the only state that publishes a list of people to be killed is the Turkish state and the AKP-MHP fascist dictatorship. They do this against the Kurds. No one in the world who says they are democrats or libertarian, raises their voices against this. The United Nations don’t raise their voice either. Everyone turns a blind eye to this issue and openly or secretly approves of this situation. If this is not terrorism, what else is it? Aren’t those who don’t speak out against this partners of terrorism? Yes, they are.”

Earthquake in Turkey – “In a normal environment, this government would not be able to take part in the elections”

“We are talking about a Kurdish massacre carried out by the AKP-MHP and the Turkish state. Yes, an earthquake is a natural disaster. Earthquakes are natural, but death [caused by an earthquake] is not natural. This kind of death is the result of the system that was built. The earthquake did not kill anyone. What killed were the cities that had been built, the apartment buildings that had been erected, that is, a wrong lifestyle. No precautions had been taken. No iron, no cement, just looting. It is as if people had been buried alive in a grave. Those who had moved there before the earthquake had in a way already died. This is how this issue needs to be understood. This needs to be understood as a massacre. Nearly 20 million people have been affected. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives. But not a single person has resigned. They [AKP-MHP] are taking part in the elections as if they have won a great success. They say: ‘We are not resigning, we are not stepping down. Try to make us if you can.’ I think the Kurds, the peoples of Turkey, the women and youth, the workers and laborers need to be able to do exactly that. They need to say, ‘If you don’t step down, we know how to take you down.’ In fact, in a normal environment, a government that is responsible for something like that could never face society again. It would not be able to take part in the elections and would not ask for the peoples’ votes. Under normal circumstances, it would not say, “Give me your votes and we will bury you in new graves” as if it had done something good. But Tayyip Erdoğan does exactly that. Does he really think that people in Turkey are fools? He is asking for votes by saying, ‘I will build better graves for you.’ Everyone needs to realize this. Where does he get this courage from? There is weakness, fragmentation and an inability to see reality in society. This is what we must understand and focus on. It is as if a mass has been brainwashed and turned into a herd. Since Erdoğan hasn’t resigned and left, he needs to be defeated and ousted through elections and held accountable in the strongest way possible.”

“This urbanism, this town planning, this way of building is like digging your own grave. There needs to be more ecological consciousness. Earthquakes are natural. Therefore, you will have to organize life accordingly. You will have to organize your city accordingly. You will have to build your buildings accordingly. These piles of concrete are basically like mass graves. People need to recognize this. This consciousness needs to develop more. Everyone needs to be able to organize their own lives more. We have to take more responsibility for our lives again. Don’t pay money to build graves for yourselves. This has caused so much damage and massacres. Let’s hold them accountable. And let’s definitely not allow this to happen again.”

Elections in Turkey – “I call on all the peoples of Turkey to vote for the libertarian and democratic forces

“They are mobilizing all means of Turkey to destroy us. They predicate their political and military strategy on on this. They predicate all their election propaganda on fighting us. However, Tayyip and the AKP are the ones who have had the most intense relations with the PKK. They are the ones who have gone to Imrali. They have had so many meetings with Leader Apo. And they have sent many of their envoys to Qandil. The Tayyip Erdoğan administration sent them. Everyone knows this. The Tayyip Erdoğan administration also sent their representatives to the Oslo talks. The head of the MIT [Hakkan Fidan], who committed many massacres, went there and held talks. Today, some people are put under pressure as if being associated with the PKK is a crime. But they [AKP-MHP government] themselves have done exactly that. Why don’t more people see this?”

“As the PKK, we support all libertarian and democratic forces. We will destroy AKP-MHP fascism. This fascism will definitely be overthrown. We will break the isolation [of Abdullah Öcalan] and destroy fascism. We will win freedom and democracy. I therefore call on the Kurdish people, women, youth, workers and laborers, all the peoples of Turkey and the oppressed to vote for democratic candidates. In other words, let everybody make the overthrow of AKP-MHP fascism their main agenda. In particular, they should vote for libertarian, democratic women. This is our call to everyone who is on our side.”

“AKP-MHP fascism is no longer bearable. It really needs to be thrown on the dustbin of history. I mean, imagine that AKP-MHP remains in power. What would be left in Turkey? Nothing in the name of humanity, freedom, democracy or sisterhood. Such a government must never be allowed to rule again. Such a situation would only lead to massacre after massacre.”

“The Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923. Now it is completing its 100th year. ‘This will be the century of Turkey’, the fascists have said. Turkey should not live through a century with this fascist dictatorship. What happened last century? Some people have divided the passed 100 years into two. The First Republic had a slightly more bureaucratic state structure. After the September 12 [1980] coup d’état – they call it the Second Republic after that – the state lost even these features. Now it has become an AKP-MHP gang state. The state has lost its institutional and bureaucratic structure. When you look at the ideological-political line, which is the basic line, the passed century is one whole. Nothing ever changed. What is this whole? Fascist, colonialist and genocidal mentality and politics. This has existed from the foundation of the state until today. This was inherited from the Committee of Union and Progress [Turkish: İttihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti]. This state was founded on the basis of Kurdish enmity and Kurdish genocide. This is how the last century passed. Being founded on Kurdish genocide has not made Turkey democratic, libertarian or respectful of human rights. It has made it despotic. It has made it a military dictatorship. It became a fascist dictatorship at times. All of this has happened in the passed century. It has always been a dictatorship. Why? Because of Kurdish enmity. And this state has not only been anti-Kurdish. Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians were also treated in the same way. The state has formed its ideological political line based on a genocidal mentality.”

“The second century of Turkey should not be like this. This state needs to finally be overcome. The attacks of the AKP-MHP fascist dictatorship, based on the ‘Annihilation Planof the last 8 years, are the peak of this. This government must be overthrown. Under such a government, Turkey has no future, no unity, no freedom and no democracy. Therefore, in the second century [of its existence], Turkey must become democratic, libertarian and fraternal. This colonialist, genocidal mentality and politics must be overcome. For this to happen, Turkey needs to be restructured. This election means laying the foundations of a new century. That is why the elections are important. How Turkey will be in its second century will partly answer this question. In other words, will the AKP-MHP continue with their anti-Kurdish, anti-women, anti-Alevi, anti-worker, anti-laborer and anti-people mentality? Or will this be overcome and a libertarian, democratic system based on sisterhood be established? Will a democratic, pluralist and fraternal Turkey based on Kurdish freedom, women’s freedom, freedom of belief, freedom of opinion and freedom of labor be established? Will such a Turkey be established as a society, as a government and as a system?”

“Not everything should be tied to the elections, but elections are also an important part of the struggle in this phase. Elections are also an important tool of change and transformation in the revolutionary struggle. We are waging a revolutionary struggle, but this election can be a very powerful turning point in such a revolutionary change. It can start the process of a democratic revolution of the peoples, women, workers and laborers, the oppressed, and thus pave the way for a democratic revolution. This can start the process that will make Turkey the most free and democratic country in the world.”

“Everyone needs to take an active stance against this fascism. The opposition should also act accordingly. If there are really elections and if the AKP-MHP does not cheat, all tendencies will enter the new parliament. The AKP-MHP is uniting the entire fascist front. Libertarian democratic forces are united in the Labor and Freedom Alliance. Almost all ideological tendencies will enter the parliament. An interesting parliament will thus emerge. In this sense, the list of the Labor and Freedom Alliance is very important. This is also true with regards to the other tendencies.”

“For the Kurds, this is a phase of bringing an end to the mentality and politics of a century of genocide. Therefore, everyone needs to use their vote very sensitively and carefully. I therefore call on all the peoples of Turkey, the women and youth to vote for the libertarian and democratic forces. I especially call on the Kurdish community to hold the enemies of the Kurds to account. I call on the women to hold the enemies of women to account. I call on all workers and laborers to hold the enemies of workers and laborers to account. I call on the Alevis to hold the enemies of Alevis to account. I call on the peoples to hold those who are the enemies of the peoples to account. Kurds in Amed, Serhat, Botan, all over North Kurdistan [east Turkey], Kurds spread across the cities will play a historic role. They must play this role consciously, correctly and effectively. The possibilities for this have emerged. The May 14 elections must be turned into a date when fascism is overthrown and the way for the democratic revolution is paved.”