Originally published: https://kck-info.com/interviews-kalkan190524/

Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Ocalan once stated. that “societies that are unable to defend themselves will not be able to avoid extinction”. What does this statement mean for Kurdish society today?

This statement of Rêber Apo1 expresses that for Kurdish society today, self-defense is more important and urgent than anything else. It is more important than bread and water since the prevailing genocidal mentality and politics are trying to destroy Kurds. If we cast an eye back into history, we see that many societies that were unable to defend themselves were destroyed and erased from history. In the first quarter of the 20th century, the genocidal mentality and system aimed to destroy the self-defense mechanisms of Kurdish society and raise awareness about them. Under the ongoing 100-year genocidal attack, awareness about self-defense and its practice in Kurdish society has been eradicated to a great extent. It is known that the Kurds were brought to the brink of extinction in the mid-1970s. The emergence of Rêber Apo and the struggle of the PKK are essentially an attempt and effort to stop this process and instead create a free existence. After fifty consecutive years of struggle, these genocidal attacks have been broken and weakened considerably. Though the genocidal mentality and politics have not yet been completely defeated, They are carrying out all kinds of attacks on the basis of the international international conspiracy2 to achieve their goals. Of course, first and foremost, it aims to completely destroy Kurdish awareness about self-defense and its organization, and therefore it is particularly attacking Rêber Apo and the guerrilla. They are their primary target in order to achieve their goals. In this respect, the reality and existence of Rêber Apo and the guerrilla represent the national existence of Kurdish society. They symbolize self-defense consciousness, organization, and action. In this sense, the PKK can be called the self-defense movement of Kurdish society. In order for Kurdish society to continue its existence and live free, it is necessary for Kurdish society to understand the reality of Rêber Apo and the guerrilla correctly and embrace it strongly. In practical terms, all Kurds who take up arms must educate, organize, and mobilize themselves with the consciousness of self-defense. Society needs to bring itself to a level that can resist, break, and defeat any genocidal attack.

Kurdish society, youth, women, children, the elderly, the general politics, cultural-social institutions, in short, every part of society is under attack by the occupying Turkish state. The state and its institutions have become the biggest security threat to Kurdish society. How will the people protect themselves against these attacks, what kind of self-defense should they develop, what should they do?

In fact, the reality of all nation states is the destruction of society. In other words, nation states aim at the destruction of sociality and the stateization of the individual. Therefore, nation states and their institutions have become the biggest security threat to societies. In Kurdistan, this social extermination is practiced at the level of genocide. The states and institutions that rule over Kurdistan mainly want to destroy Kurdish society. This extermination mainly takes the form of cultural genocide, i.e. assimilation at all levels, but it is also accompanied by physical massacres, displacement from Kurdistan (deportation) and changing the demography of Kurdistan. An all-out genocidal attack is being waged against Kurdish society. How can Kurdish society protect itself in this situation?

First, it has to realize that it has a serious security problem and that it faces genocide.

Secondly, it has to realize that it is the state and its institutions that aim to destroy it. In other words, it will have to reach a correct understanding of the state and enemy so that they will not call state forces and institutions ‘security forces’ anymore.

Thirdly, it has to realize that only it can ensure its own security and feel responsibility on this basis.

Finally, it has to form self-defense consciousness, organization, and action to ensure its own security. In other words, it will have to educate and organize itself on the basis of self-defense and defend itself in the face of attacks. There is no other way or method.

Kurdish society cannot simply speak of ‘self-defense’ in a subordinate clause and thereby close the topic. It cannot afford to approach the issue of self-defense incorrectly and inadequately and place self-defense or its own security in the hands of others. Today, some people think that if they say ‘self-defense’, their security will be ensured. This is wrong. Another wrong approach to self-defense is not recognizing the reality of the state and the enemy correctly and looking at them as ‘security forces’. To fragment the content of self-defense and to see it only as a matter of consciousness or only as a matter of organization and action is also another inadequate approach. Some people define self-defense only as a state of consciousness. This is undoubtedly insufficient. Again, some see self-defense only in practical terms, that is, as organization and action. Undoubtedly, this is also insufficient. Self-defense includes all of these together. It includes the integrity of consciousness, organization, and action. Seeing self-defense only as consciousness and not transforming it into organization and action is just saying nice things. On the contrary, seeing self-defense only as practice and not seeing its consciousness dimension leads to all kinds of mistakes and wrong practices. It is absolutely necessary not to fall for such mistakes and not to define self-defense according to one’s own whims. It is a topic that needs to be approached correctly and applied successfully.

The answer to the question of what to do in this regard also emerges. First of all, the Kurdish society will have to understand the concept of self-defense correctly, adequately, and successfully fulfill its requirements in practice. For this, it will have to see itself as responsible for its own security and not leave its security to others. They will have to acquire the correct self-defense consciousness and educate themselves correctly. Education should not only be at the level of knowledge but should also become the basis for organizing and equipping oneself in every aspect. These are very essential; if they are not present, and if one does not act and live accordingly, then one cannot do anything in the face of attacks. The rest is to act carefully and cautiously and to show the courage and sacrifice to form a defense against any kind of attack.

In fact, what we assess as one part of the problem is the approach and expectation of some that someone else should do these things so that they do not burden them. Societycide and genocide create such a state of mind and understanding in societies and individuals. This is the reason why they are discussed so much but are not practiced as much as they should be. This means that societycide and genocide have been quite successful. The first thing to do, as an answer to this, is to completely eradicate this state of mind and understanding, to wipe it out of our minds and hearts. If we do so, we will find the right and adequate answers to the question of what we need to do to ensure our own security. Unless we do so, no valid solution can be found, no matter how much we discuss and search for it. Therefore, correcting the mistakes in the approach to self-defense comes first and foremost.

It is becoming more and more striking every day that the existence and freedom of Kurdistan and Kurds cannot exist without self-defense. Ensuring this is, of course, the main task of the whole population. Some autonomous organizations are organizing actions, but we see that there is more expectation from the guerrilla and professional forces. What would you like to say about this? How should the people as a whole participate in the self-defense mechanism? How can all parts of society play a role in this?

In fact, not only Kurds but also no other individual, people or society in this world can exist and live freely without self-defense. Self-defense means security. Security is one of the three basic conditions of existence, along with nutrition and reproduction. If an individual, people, or society ensures its security through its own strength, if it can feed itself through its own strength, if it creates the conditions for reproduction, then it can continue its existence and live freely. There is an unbreakable link between security and freedom. Those who cannot ensure their security cannot be free. Those who leave their security to others become their slaves. Only those who provide their own security can live free. Therefore, anyone who wants to be free and live freely must ensure their own security. There are no buts to this. Anyone who has fallen into such a situation has actually lost a lot of his or her freedom.

When we look at history, we see that the lives of all clans, tribes, and peoples were based on self-defense. The tribal and clan life of the Kurds and the clan life of the Turkmens are all based on self-defense and were therefore free. What does this mean, or how was this realized? It is very clear that everyone, men and women, who can hold a weapon is trained in self-defense, learns how to use weapons, organizes on the basis of self-defense, and when faced with an attack, everyone fulfills their duties. This is the life of a free society.

It is well known that this situation changed with the emergence of power and the state system. The power and the state took the weapons and tools to ensure security from the hands of society, gathered the power for itself, and declared itself as the ‘security force’. Since the patriarchal mentality, hierarchy, and male dominance constitute the power and the state, all security has been monopolized by the state and particularly the men. On this basis, women and the whole society have been constantly disarmed, rendered powerless, and dependent on men and the state for 5,000 years. Now it is clear that if one really wants to get rid of this situation, the task is to take the weapons and power out of the hands of the state and men. For this, it is imperative that women and the entire society reach the right security consciousness and train, organize, and equip themselves on this basis. This is how the reality of a warring people is formed, which is a phrase used very often by Rêber Apo. This is an inevitable point.

The current understanding and attitude of many, which shows the expectation that security is provided by the guerrilla or professional forces, is in fact an understanding and attitude that accepts male and state domination in advance. One cannot be free with such an understanding and attitude. First of all, it is necessary to change this approach and adopt a correct attitude toward security by clearly seeing the inseparable link between freedom and security. For this, it is necessary to fight against any kind of wrong understanding. Undoubtedly, revolutionary forces must lead this struggle, our party must lead this, and the process of forming a Democratic Nation must be completely on this basis. The most active force in the struggle on behalf of all these is the press, broadcasting, art, and literature. They must both struggle against the wrong approaches and replace them with the right ones. Societies have already been subjected to nation-state genocide. Kurds have already been under genocidal attack for a century. Therefore, they cannot be expected to get rid of these wrongs by themselves. Societies need to be educated with a correct understanding of security. The main task lies with those who are responsible for educating society. The party and guerrilla leadership, the press and broadcasting, art, and literature have to fulfill this task. The main problem we face today stems from the weakness and inadequacy in these areas. The forces in charge and responsible for educating society must know how to overcome these inadequacies and weaknesses and fulfill their duties successfully. The problem can only be solved if people and society are given awareness about self-defense at the right and sufficient level, if  mistakes in this regard are corrected and weaknesses are overcome, and if society is trained and organized on the basis of self-defense. There is no other way.

Your guerrilla forces are also part of self-defense. What is its concrete role in this context? Do you think that your guerrilla forces are left alone in this resistance and that they are not supported enough? If so, what should be done to ensure that the guerrilla and the people’s self-defense complement each other in the struggle against fascism?

The role and mission of the guerrilla in self-defense are leadership and guidance. It is true that today it is solely the guerrilla that is waging the war. In this sense, it can also be said that the guerrilla is alone. Still, this should not be expressed as ‘the guerrilla is left alone’. In the recent past, such views were expressed in different ways. We have discussed and evaluated this situation in all its dimensions. We have re-evaluated and planned the concept of self-defense according to the mentality of Democratic Modernity and have concretized it in the form of the professional guerrilla, which is the vanguard, and the local self-defense, which is the basic force. In other words, we consider the guerrilla and local forms of self-defense in a holistic manner. According to this definition, the guerrilla is the main force that trains, organizes, and manages self-defense. Therefore, if self-defense is weak and the war is currently being waged on the shoulders of the guerrilla, the guerrilla itself is mainly responsible for this. Since the people cannot educate and organize themselves, and since this education and organization should mainly be done by the guerrilla leadership, the guerrilla leadership is mainly responsible for the weakness of self-defense. Rather than criticizing others, the guerrilla gives self-criticism for the current situation and foresees eliminating the deficiencies on this basis.

For guerrilla and local self-defense to complement each other, both must be trained, organized, and mobilized together. Our party and guerrilla leadership are responsible for this. The work of the entire party and guerrilla must mainly be focused on this. In other words, it must educate, organize, and mobilize the people, especially young people and women, on this basis. It must correct the existing misunderstandings about self-defense among the people and ensure the emergence of a correct self-defense consciousness and practice. Of course, everyone who calls themselves patriotic and libertarian must also know that they have a duty within this, believe that free life is only possible through self-defense, and embrace their duty on the basis of the consciousness given by the leadership of the party and the guerrilla.

In its current state, there is a serious illusion in Northern Kurdistan. There is a fascist and genocidal dictatorship, but it is thought that this dictatorship can only be overcome through legal organization and democratic mass action. This understanding is not correct. Fascism means total attack and war. The anti-fascist struggle can only succeed if it is developed on the basis of revolutionary warfare. However, in its current form, the masses are given the wrong understanding that results can only be achieved through a narrow struggle for peace and democracy. The press is responsible for this, along with the organized forces. This false awareness must be corrected immediately, and the masses must be made aware that only total resistance against the fascist-genocidal dictatorship on the basis of anti-fascist revolutionary warfare can bring success. So far, almost everyone has made serious mistakes and shown shortcomings in this regard. These must first be eliminated and corrected through self-criticism. It is necessary to make correct propaganda and education on the basis of the ideological and strategic line, to tell the people the truth, and to make it possible to fight against the fascist-genocidal system correctly and holistically with such a correct education.

Rêber Apo once asked the society, “If they can commit a massacre in Amed, how will you defend yourself? Will the guerrilla come and save you from massacres?” drawing attention to the vital importance of social self-defense. Since the day this assessment was made, there have been many massacres against the people. In this context, what should society, the people do, and how should they organize their defense?

We, as the party and guerrilla leadership, take the criticism of Rêber Apo upon ourselves first and foremost, and we are self-critical. Like I stated before, people cannot educate and organize themselves. The party and guerrilla leadership have the responsibility to do this. Rêber Apo wants the people to be educated and organized correctly and adequately on the basis of self-defense. We are determined to accomplish this task, which we have not been able to do sufficiently for various reasons so far. In this context, let our people, especially the youth and women, believe in and trust us. Of course, we will do our duty. The society must be open and ready for such education to discard old misunderstandings and acquire a new understanding of self-defense.

Also, as I have stated before, the understanding that the fascist-genocidal system can be overthrown only through narrow legal organization and democratic mass action is not correct. Our people must free themselves from this wrong understanding. They must convince themselves that the fascist-genocidal mentality and system can only be overthrown through total resistance on the basis of revolutionary people’s warfare, and as a requirement of this, they must participate in and support the guerrilla and self-defense activities. Weakness is experienced on this basis. Not all patriots are working to join the guerrilla. We know that there are so-called patriots who prevent their own and their relatives’ youth from participating. Obviously, there is no such thing as patriotism, we must throw such people out of our midst. There is not enough participation and support for those working for self-defense. There is too much legalization and legalism. There is a situation of losing the revolutionary stance and becoming too reformist. It is absolutely necessary to overcome this legalist-reformist understanding and style. It is necessary to understand the self-defense war correctly and to know that the first condition of patriotic duty is to participate in and support the self-defense war and to act accordingly.

At the same time, we must educate ourselves and our environment with the right patriotic consciousness. Acting with the awareness that we are waging the most relentless war for existence and freedom in history, we must both involve ourselves in this war and live according to the requirements of it. Everyone must pay attention to the way they live, act, and work. No one should act as if we are not under genocidal attack. Everyone should be organized. No one should act randomly or wander around alone, but they should always live and work in readiness for any possibility of attack. The same must be done as a people against the possibility of any kind of massacre. We will provide our own security. The state forces do not provide security; on the contrary, they want to destroy us. So we cannot entrust our security to such a force. We cannot live unprepared, either. We must always be prepared, and at the same time, we must be able to resist and defeat the attack without hesitation. This is a new situation and understanding. But it is a reality that has been experienced in the historical past. The fascist, colonialist, and genocidal mentality distanced us from this reality and revealed the current reformist-submissionist understanding and attitude. So we must bring this reality to consciousness and free ourselves from any understanding or attitude that means reformism and submission.

Every day, women are murdered solely for being women. The state has a systematic policy of extermination, specifically against women. For example, Nagihan Akarsel was murdered in the middle of the city in Sulaymaniyah. The Iraqi representative of the Turkish state openly claimed responsibility for this massacre. Regarding the situation of the women, Abdullah Ocalan once stated, “They should not go down to uncanny social areas without guaranteed self-defense.” How can women’s self-defense be developed? What does self-defense mean for women?

A few weeks ago, the coordinations of the PAJK and KJK issued a joint declaration on self-defense and called on all women to acquire a proper self-defense consciousness and to accordingly organize and take action. As the PKK, we agree with this declaration. Of course, the situation of women in today’s world is much more severe than ever before. It reveals the true face of the male-dominated power and state system and the last form of Capitalist Modernity. In fact, the situation of women indicates the situation of society. It is not only women who are being driven away from awareness about self-defense and its organization, but also the whole society. This is how slavery, oppression, and exploitation were developed.

Obviously, the oppression and massacre of women are not one-dimensional but multi-dimensional. Under the current system of Capitalist Modernity, there is actually no life envisaged for women. The system has enslaved the whole society, and women woman has been made the slave of the slave. There is absolutely no way of life left for a woman other than to become what the male state wants her to be and to serve it. In this system, the woman is openly murdered both spiritually and emotionally, intellectually and physically. The law and all the rules of the system are structured around the slavery of women. The number of women murdered in Turkey in the first four months of 2024 was announced as 185. Almost every day, two women are murdered. These are the known and visible ones; of course, the unknown and invisible massacres of women are tens of times higher. Therefore, self-defense is vital for women more than anyone else.

In the current environment, self-defense is the only way for women to survive and live freely. Other than this, it is not possible for women to protect themselves from harassment, rape, and massacres. In short, self-defense is vital and inevitably necessary for women more than anyone else. This is the only way to gain free consciousness, will, and life. In order to keep society under slavery, the current system attacks and fears women the most. Of course, overcoming Capitalist Modernity and building Democratic Modernity on the basis of the free individual and the democratic commune will only be possible and successful on the basis of women’s freedom. On this basis, an important women’s consciousness and organization are developing. If it is not harmed by petite bourgeois perversions, a correct and effective women’s organization and struggle will develop on the basis of self-defense. The experience of self-defense and freedom struggle developed by Kurdish women on the basis of YJA Star is a concrete example for everyone with the successes it has created.

When it comes to self-defense and resistance, the first aspect that comes to mind is, of course, youth. What should be the way of self-defense of the Kurdish youth, and what kind of method should they use?

Kurdish youth successfully played a historic role by creating the PKK and the Kurdish freedom guerrilla. As it is known, the PKK is a party of the youth, and the guerrilla is the most fundamental youth organization. Self-defense is the basic form of organization and struggle of the youth. Work other than this is an afterthought for them. Even though this is the reality, youth work in Northern Kurdistan is currently highly legalized. The youth work in Rojava is carried out around secondary activities such as mass marches.

Undoubtedly, in order to reveal their will, the youth need their own unique organization, but it is important in which line this organization will be. Recently, mild methods of organization and struggle have become almost fundamental for youth work. In our opinion, this is a mistake. The motto of the youth’s organization and action must definitely be self-defense. Like the party and the guerrilla, the youth movement must be the vanguard and the main force of social self-defense. The youth must constitute the main force of the self-defense force of society. In addition, the youth must lead all other social education, organization and actions, especially the serhildan3.

Can the youth carry out such a comprehensive task? If it is trained and organized correctly, sure, it can. But it should be known that the ruling orders always close the door to revolutionary organization and action and open the door to reformist forms. In the face of such a situation, youth movements should not be mistaken, should not leave what is difficult and run to the open door. Especially under conditions of fascism and genocide, it is imperative that the youth organization take the illegal style as its basis and achieve this. Under fascism, if the youth organization becomes legalized, all other organizations become more legalist; if the youth actions become reformist, the actions of other parts of society become completely ineffective. In this respect, it is necessary to re-evaluate the existing youth work and insist on developing it in the right direction.

When it comes to self-defense, which also comes directly to mind, is physical resistance. This of course quite reasonable keeping in mind that genocide is imposed on a people. What kind of dimensions does self-defense have besides physical resistance?

Resistance and self-defense have various methods and dimensions. Resistance takes place in the soul, in the emotions, in the consciousness, in the culture, also in physical forms, i.e. serhildan and war. All these resistances can be considered within the scope of self-defense. Under conditions of fascism and genocide, all these are both necessary and meaningful. Unless they are based on and connected to the struggle of self-defense, all these methods of resistance are ineffective and inconclusive. It is absolutely necessary not to make a mistake in defining self-defense, not to see it only as a thought, emotion and attitude, but to consider them together with the struggle of defense. I have criticized some misunderstandings on this issue above. I think it is best to deal with it on that basis.

What is the connection between the organization of the society and self-defense of the society?

As I mentioned above, self-defense means security. Security is one of the three basic conditions of existence, along with nutrition and reproduction. Social organization is determined by the fulfillment of these three conditions. Natural society is based on communalism in nutrition (i.e. economy), equality based on differences in reproduction (i.e. the relationship between the sexes), and freedom using its own power in security (i.e. self-defense). It is mainly at these three points that the mentality, system of power, and state, the product of the male mind, attack society. It develops individual private property by destroying communalism in the economy, the male-dominated mentality and system by eliminating equality based on differences between the sexes in reproduction, and the army and police system that protect themselves by destroying self-defense in security. This means that any democratic struggle of society against the power and state system must be based on communal property against individual private property, women’s freedom (i.e. equality based on differences) against male domination, and self-defense against the army and police force. In other words, the organization of democratic society can be realized on the basis of the democratic commune, women’s freedom, and self-defense.

From this, we understand that just as there cannot be a democratic social organization without taking the democratic commune and women’s freedom as a basis, there cannot be one without relying on self-defense either. This reality is essentially valid for today’s Kurdish society. Self-defense comes first for the Kurdish society, as it is a people that has been subjected to genocide for centuries, that is wanted to be destroyed by the global system of Capitalist Modernity, and that can only continue its existence and gain freedom through a revolutionary people’s war based on self-defense. As I have stated, for Kurds, security comes before bread and water. In this respect, it is both right and absolutely necessary to put self-defense at the center of the struggle for freedom and the organization of a democratic society. The democratic organization of Kurdish society, i.e., the formation of the Democratic Nation, can be realized mainly on the basis of and around self-defense. Democratic communal life and women’s freedom can be built and realized around self-defense. Therefore, the democratic organization of Kurds and women must be based on self-defense. Those who address the problem in this way can be successful. Those who search for other ways, no matter what they intend, will ultimately fail and will pour water on the mills of the colonialist-genocidal system.

MPs and elected functionaries are being attacked and tortured by soldiers and police in the streets and in front of cameras. What kind of measures do you think can be taken against these attacks in the political arena?

As in all nation-states, the Turkish parliament is an institution of the Republic of Turkey. Therefore, those elected to this institution essentially become civil servants. Yes, ostensibly, society elects them, but in reality, they become servants of the state. They promise to protect the interests of society in the election, and later they promise to protect the existence and interests of the state in the parliament. In return, the state pays them salaries and feeds them. It wants to make them instruments of its sovereignty over society. And those who do not take such a position are subjected to all kinds of pressure and attacks, just like the Kurdish deputies in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. This is a very clear and understandable situation. Therefore, it is difficult to be a deputy in the assemblies of the nation-state, and even more difficult to try to defend the interests of society against the state.

If we come to the concrete case of Turkey and Kurdistan in the context of the question, it is indeed very difficult to be a member of the parliament under the current reality of a fascist, colonialist, and genocidal state. The state demands support for all fascist, colonialist, and genocidal practices from those whom it makes civil servants. If these people want to oppose this because of their democratic mentality or because they remember their promises to society, then they are subjected to state attacks in the spirit of revenge. Indeed, this is very much the case. In our opinion, it is necessary to expose this situation in all its clarity to the masses of the people and not to deceive them. After all, the state is asking them to deceive the public. On the other hand, they should try to do the limited things they can do very carefully, being aware of the real situation. They must always act in an organized and careful manner, must protect themselves against attacks from the military and police, and moreover, from fascist gangs. They must live in a state of self-defense. Obviously, this is a very serious and complicated area of struggle. One cannot run away from the struggle because there is a danger of oppression and attack, but trying to struggle in an unorganized and careless way will not yield any positive result.

Another important point that can be made here is that it is not right for the people, especially women and youth, to have excessive expectations from the MPs. Like I said, it should not be forgotten that they are civil servants and have to act according to the laws of the state. When it is about struggling against state terror and oppression, those who rely on state laws cannot do much. Knowing this, it is necessary not to attribute too much role to MPs in the struggle for freedom, on the contrary, it is necessary to succeed in carrying out the struggle with the people’s own power and without being bound by state laws. In other words, the masses of the people must organize themselves and know how to conduct serhildans.

Regarding culture, how can the defense of a people’s culture and its cultural values be achieved? How important do you value acts of art, literature, and cinema for the self-defense system of the Democratic Nation? How do you assess the struggle of the Kurdish society and democratic forces in this field?

The existence of a people becomes tangible with its language, history, and cultural values. If a society cannot protect, preserve, and develop these values, it fails to be a society. Cultural genocide and plunder of its values are the destruction of society. In Kurdistan, such a genocidal attack has been carried out with unprecedented methods for the last century. The looting and destruction of language, history, and culture, as well as the attempt to Turkify, continue at the most advanced level. The freedom movement must be sensitive in all these areas, develop organization, and wage an effective struggle. For example, the Kurdish language is being destroyed through assimilation, but there is not a very organized and effective stance against this. Kurdish culture and historical values are being plundered, destroyed on the one hand, and absorbed on the other. There is a lack of an adequate response. Forests are being cut down and nature is being plundered in Kurdistan, but there is no organized and adequate reaction against this. All this stems from the weakness of self-defense consciousness and organization. An organized popular reaction against such genocidal attacks must develop immediately, and hell must break loose, so to speak.

Above, I have defined self-defense as a matter of consciousness, organization, and action. Undoubtedly, in order for organization and action to develop, consciousness is required first. Society must be adequately trained in self-defense consciousness. Of course, this needs to be done in different ways and methods. Within this, the role of both the press, art, and literature is very important and almost decisive. Literature and art, in particular, form the basis of such an education because their analysis is deep and has the power to appeal to the soul, emotion, and thought together. Therefore, they provide the most in-depth and powerful public education. Unfortunately, Kurdish literature and art in their current form are still very weak. It is far from playing its role in educating society. Moreover, those that exist are not sufficient. In order to develop self-defense consciousness in society, it is essential to strengthen art and literature. This must be achieved regardless of the obstacles and difficulties.

Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Ocalan has expressed many times that self-defense and resistance cannot be permanent if they are not integrated with moral and political social construct. How do you evaluate the connection and relationship between self-defense, society, and the formation of the Democratic Nation? What should the mechanism of self-defense of a Democratic Nation look like?

Already before, I mentioned the link between forming a Democratic Nation and self-defense. I have stated that forming a Democratic Nation must be based on the democratic commune, women’s freedom, and self-defense. I have also added that self-defense comes first, especially for Kurdistan, and I briefly defined the self-defense system of the Democratic Nation. The first link in the self-defense system is the professional guerrilla. The professional guerrilla is the educating, organizing, and pioneering force. Without professional guerrilla leadership, the defense system of the Democratic Nation cannot be formed. The professional guerrilla vanguard is also the party vanguard, without the party vanguard, nothing can happen in Kurdistan, not even a leaf can move, as Rêber Apo put it once. This is how important and meaningful professional guerrilla leadership is. Obviously, without professional guerrilla leadership, the self-defense system of the Democratic Nation cannot be formed, but with only professional guerrillas, the self-defense system of the Democratic Nation cannot be sufficiently realized. In this respect, the second link in the defense system is the self-defense of the people. Everyone who can hold a gun in their hands must be trained in self-defense, organized, and equipped on this basis. The organization of the people is the basic power of the self-defense system of the Democratic Nation. This force is not professional, but local. It is also possible to call it a local guerrilla. Those who take part in this force both maintain their economic and social lives and work on the basis of self-defense. The third link is the total organization of the people in the economic, social, and political spheres. In other words, it is the creation of an organized society along the lines of Democratic Confederalism and based on network organization. Undoubtedly, the organization of all areas of social life, economic, social, political, and cultural, must be based on self-defense and serve it. This field also refers to mass action, serhildan, and similar actions.

In short, professional guerrilla, local self-defense, and organized society constitute the self-defense system of the Democratic Nation. Youth and women play the main role in this. There is no work for money or salary in self-defense service. Self-defense is completely based on sacrificial commitment. Sacrificial commitment is inevitable for the professional guerrilla as well as for local self-defense and social organization. The guerrilla style is the basic style of the self-defense system of the Democratic Nation. It is essential to reach a guerrillized people. All self-defense forces must be trained and organized ideologically and militarily.

What does self-defense mean in the context of protecting revolution and the gains achieved? Concretely, what is the role of social self-defense in the struggle for the protection of the revolution of Rojava and its gains, which are subjected to attacks every day, and how can it be further strengthened?

Undoubtedly, the protection of revolutionary gains is always essential, and this protection must be on an active basis. It is necessary not to fall into narrow and conservative approaches in the name of protecting the gains. It is well-known that the best defense is an attack. The same applies regarding the protection of revolutionary gains. In other words, the best protection of revolutionary gains is the continuous development, deepening, and spreading of the revolution. Revolutions that do not develop and deepen become conservative and rot from within. And no power can prevent this. This understanding is just as valid for Rojava.

The revolution of Rojava will always be attacked in the world of power and state. As long as the power and state system exists, it is not possible to prevent this. Therefore, instead of wishing and waiting for these attacks to not happen, it is necessary to develop a self-defense system that includes measures to prevent and nullify the damage of these attacks. This is as much about deepening and spreading the revolution as it is about developing defensive measures.

The current situation in Rojava depends on today’s conditions and is open to change. The important thing here is to carry out these processes of change on the basis of self-defense and advance them in favor of the revolution. There are plenty of opportunities and possibilities for this in Rojava. The important thing here is to make effective use of these opportunities instead of complaining about attacks and waiting for security from others. It is to train, organize, and equip the whole society, everyone who can hold a weapon, on the basis of self-defense. It is clear that the possibilities and opportunities for this are abundant. It must be known that Rojava, or North and East Syria, can only be defended by the peoples of North and East Syria and no one else. In order for these peoples to successfully carry out the task of defense, they must be trained, organized, and equipped ideologically and militarily.

Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Ocalan once stated that the nation-state has left society without self-defense and said that “there can be no greater catastrophe than society losing its self-defense.” How can society be made self-defensive? How can a total self-defense against capitalism and the nation-state be organized? How can a self-defense front be developed?

The total sum of what I have expressed so far constitutes the answer to this question. Undoubtedly, reaching a system of total self-defense is not something that will happen instantly and easily. It is a matter of struggle and develops over time. The important thing here is to have such an understanding of self-defense and to make a continuous effort to realize it, starting from the first steps. The rest develops in practice. The struggle for Democratic Modernity against the system of Capitalist Modernity must be based on self-defense, and this applies to all areas, regardless of concrete conditions. The important thing is to have a clear understanding and determination, and to know how to work and struggle with great courage, sacrifice, and patience. The rest will come into practice because this world cannot go on like this. The peoples and particularly the women, will not accept such a slavish life as it is forever. If there is to be life, it must be free. And the way to a free life is through self-defense. Therefore, while developing the struggle for freedom and democracy in every field, our basic principle and slogan should be as follows: There is no free life without self-defense!


1 Referring to Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Ocalan.

2 By international conspiracy he refers here to how Abdullah Ocalan was kidnapped in violation of international law on February 15, 1999 and taken to the prison island of Imrali after he had gone through a political odyssey through various countries that began on October 9, 1998. The forced odyssey and abduction is verifiable the work of various states and secret services, above all the CIA, Mossad, the Greek and Italian states.

3 Kurdish word for popular uprising.