I salute the people of the Middle East and Central Asia celebrating this awakening, revival and resurgence day of Newroz with the most extensive participation and unity.

I salute all the fraternal peoples celebrating Newroz, the day of enlightenment and a turning point of a new era, with great enthusiasm and democratic tolerance.

I salute all those who are travelling on this grand path who have democratic rights, freedom and equality as their guides.

I salute you the Kurdish people from the Zagros and Taurus mountain sides, to the Euphrates and Tigris river valleys. I salute the Kurdish people who are one of the oldest peoples in the cradle of human civilisation and birthplace of agriculture in the sacred Mesopotamian and Anatolian lands to the pastoral, village and urban civilisations.

The Kurds have taken part in the thousands of year old civilisation together with different races, religions, creeds in fraternity and friendship and have built this civilisation together. For Kurds the Euphrates and Tigris share kinship with Sakarya and Maritsa. Ararat and Judi are the friends Kaçkars and Erciyes. Halay[1] and Delilo[2], are the relatives of Horon[3] and Zeybek[4].

This great civilisation and these fraternal communities have been played off against each other through political pressure, external interventions and vested interests. Thus there was an attempt to build systems that were not based upon rights, law, equality and freedom.

The last two hundred years of wars of conquest, Western imperialist interventions, repressive and denialist doctrines have tried to bury the Arabian, Turkic, Persian and Kurdish communities to nation statehoods, to imaginary borders and artificial problems.

The time of exploitative regimes, repressive and denialist doctrines is now coming to an end. The people of the Middle East and those of the Central Asia are awakening. They are returning to themselves and to their roots. They demand a halt to the senseless and provocative wars and conflicts waged against one another.

Those thousands, indeed millions of people who have occupied and filled the squares burning with the fire of Newroz are crying out for peace, fraternity and demands for a solution.

This struggle, which for my own part began as my individual rebellion against the despair, ignorance and slavery that I was born into, aimed to create a consciousness, an understanding and a new spirit. Today I see that this upsurge has reached a new level.

Our fight has not been and can never be against any race, religion, sect or group. Our fight has been against repression, ignorance, injustice and against enforced underdevelopment as well as all forms of repression and oppression.

Today we are waking up to a new Turkey and a new Middle East.

The youth who have welcomed my call, the most respected women who heed my call, friends who have accepted my arguments and all the people who take note of my voice; today a new era is beginning.

The door is opening from the armed struggle period to that of democratic politics.

We have reached the point where weapons can fall silent and ideas and democratic politics will have the chance to speak.

A new phase in our struggle is beginning. Now a door is opening to a phase where we are moving from armed resistance to an era of democratic political struggle.

A process with more weight on political, social and economic aspects is beginning; a perception based on democratic rights, freedoms, equality is developing.

We have sacrificed decades of our lives for the people and we paid a high price. None of these sacrifices nor the struggle were in vain because as a result the Kurdish people have rediscovered their own identity and heritage.

The modernist paradigm that has disregarded, denied and excluded us has been razed to the ground. Regardless of whether they are Turkish, Kurdish, Laz or Circassian – the blood is flowing from the human being and from the bosom of this land.

Witnessed by the millions of people who heed my call I say a new era is beginning, politics gain prominence over weapons. We have now come to the stage of the withdrawal of our armed forces outside the borders. I believe that all those who have believed in this cause and me shall be alert to the dangers of the process. This is not an end, but a new beginning. This is not abandoning the struggle but to start a different struggle. The establishment of lands based on ethnicity and one-nation is an inhuman fabrication intended by a modernity that denies our roots and origins.

A great responsibility falls on everyone so that an equal, free and democratic country of all peoples and cultures can be founded befitting the history of Kurdistan and Anatolia. On this occasion of Newroz I call on the Armenians, Turkomans, Assyrians, Arabs and all the other peoples just as much as the Kurdish people to observe the flames of freedom and equality – due to the fire lit here today – as their own.
To the distinguished people of Turkey;

The Turkish people who are living in the ancient Anatolia today known as Turkey should know that the common life they have lived with the Kurds under the flag of Islam rests on the principles of fraternity and solidarity. In its true sense, in this law of fraternity there can be no room for conquest, denial, rejection, forced assimilation and annihilation.

The repressive, annihilationist and assimilationist policies of the last century based on capitalist modernity demonstrates only efforts to deny the whole history and law of fraternity by a ruling elite that does not represent the will of the people. It is now very clear that this grip of tyranny is in contradiction with history and law of fraternity. In order to be able to jointly break free from this I call on all of us, the two strategic power of the Middle East, to build a democratic modernity befitting our culture and civilisations.

It is time for alliance, unity, embracing one another and to give and receive blessings not that of dispute, conflict and despising one another. The Turks and Kurds who together fell martyr at Çanakkale; also went through the War of Independence together and opened the 1920 assembly jointly. The reality our common past puts before us the need to establish a common future. The spirit that established the Turkish Grand Assembly today points the way into this new era.

I call on all the oppressed peoples, representatives of classes and cultures; the women who are the oldest colony and oppressed class, all oppressed creeds, religions and all others of different cultural backgrounds, representatives of the working class and everyone who has been excluded from the system, to take up their position in the Democratic Modernity which is the new route out of this tyranny and to establish it in reality and as a way of life.

The Middle East and Central Asia are in search of a contemporary modernity and a democratic order that befits its own history. The quest for a new model where all can live and coexist freely and in fraternity has become an essential need like bread and water.

It is just as if we were experiencing a more current, more complicated and more profound version of the War of Independence that developed within the framework of the [1920] National Pact in our recent history.

Despite all the mistakes, shortcomings and errors of the past ninety years we are once again trying to build a model together with all the peoples, classes, and cultures who have become victims and been through terrible disasters. I call on all these circles to come and realise the creation of an egalitarian, free and democratic manner of expression.

I call on the Kurds, Turkoman, Assyrians and Arabs who were partitioned against the National Pact and today have been condemned to live under grave problems and conflicts within the Syrian and Iraqi Arab Republic to discuss, become aware and reassess their reality on the basis of a “National Solidarity and Peace Conference”.

The breadth and comprehensiveness of the “WE” concept holds an important place within the history of this land. However it has been reduced to a “ONE” in the hands of the narrow and ruling elite. It is time to give the “WE” concept its old spirit and implementation.

We shall unite in the face of those who want to divide and make us fight. We shall unite in the face of those who want to separate us.

Those who cannot understand the spirit of the age are thrown in the dustbin of history. Those who resist the water flow are dragged into the abyss.

The peoples of the region are witnessing the birth of new dawns. The peoples of the Middle East who have become tired of wars, conflicts and separations want to return to their roots and to be able to stand shoulder to shoulder.

This Newroz is a new herald to us all.

The truth in the messages of Prophet Moses, Jesus and Mohammed is now being implemented in life today and the human being is trying to regain what it has lost. We do not deny the values of the contemporary civilisation of the West as a whole. We indeed take the enlightenment, equal, free and democratic values and synthesise them with our own existential values and universal living forms in order to implement them.

The basis of the new struggle is thought, ideology and democratic politics, to be able to start a great democratic leap forward.

Greetings to all those who have given strength to this process and to those who have supported the democratic-peaceful solution!

I salute all those who have taken on the responsibility for the fraternity, equality and democratic freedom of peoples!

Long Live Newroz, Long Live the Fraternity of Peoples!

Imralı Prison 21 March 2013

Abdullah ÖCALAN

[translation from Turkish: International Initiative “Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan – Peace in Kurdistan”]

[1]   Anatolian folk dance

[2]   Kurdish folk dance

[3]   Blacksee fold dance

[4]   Central and Southern Anatolian folk dance