“The only thing they think about is to eliminate the Kurds. The Turkish state uses all its institutions for this. The policy against Rêber Apo constitutes a policy against the Kurdish people and human values,” said Cemil Bayık of the KCK.
The KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) Executive Council Co-Chair Cemil Bayık spoke to Stêrk TV about the election results, the isolation regime imposed on Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan and the guerrilla resistance against the attacks by the Turkish state.
We publish the first part of the in-depth interview here:
The isolation of the Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan continues. He is not allowed to meet with his lawyers and family and is regularly being given new so-called ‘disciplinary punishments’. How do you evaluate the current situation of Abdullah Öcalan?
The occupying Turkish state started to carry out massacres against various peoples right after its foundation. Many peoples were thus subjected to genocide. One of them is the Kurdish people. The Turkish state has since caused great suffering to the Kurdish people and the Kurds have rebelled against these attacks. They have put up heroic resistance and defended themselves.
The occupying Turkish state still wants to continue this genocide policy. If we do not understand this policy of the past – a policy of massacres against the peoples – we cannot understand the Turkish state’s current approach towards Rêber Apo [Abdullah Öcalan]. This policy against Rêber Apo, is actually a policy against all Kurds, peoples and humanity as a whole. Because Rêber Apo is the leader of a people. Therefore, we need to understand the mentality of the Turkish state well. If a state is based on genocide, it will never take into account law, justice and international rules. We can see clearly today that the policy being pursued against Rêber Apo and the Kurdish people complies neither with Turkey’s own laws nor with international law.
The only thing they think about is to eliminate the Kurds. The Turkish state uses all its institutions for this. The policy against Rêber Apo constitutes a policy against the Kurdish people and human values. Rêber Apo defends human values. Therefore, the isolation of Rêber Apo is an attempt to complete the genocide. This isolation has nothing to do with the law. It is purely political. When the struggle increases, the Turkish state softens the isolation a little bit. But when the struggle is weak, they put complete isolation back into effect. Therefore, everyone must understand their duty to take a stance against complete isolation and to oppose genocide. Then the Turkish state will take a step back in its genocide policy. This is the responsibility of our people, our international friends, all revolutionaries and socialists. Those who define themselves as patriots, socialists, democrats and intellectuals must stand against the complete isolation and increase the struggle for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo.
That is why all Kurds, socialists, democrats and international friends of the Kurdish people in the four parts of Kurdistan and abroad must wage a great struggle for Rêber Apo. Because the Turkish state pursues a policy of genocide. It wants to carry out a genocide against the Kurds and the PKK by doing the exact same thing against Rêber Apo. The Turkish state must lift the complete isolation immediately. Rêber Apo’s lawyers and family must be able to visit him. Rêber Apo has rights as a prisoner. The Turkish state must recognize these rights. I also have a call for all politicians and those who fight for human rights: They need to apply to visit Rêber Apo.
First because of the earthquake in North Kurdistan and Turkey and then because of the elections, your movement decided to declare a halt of all its military attacks in February. But the Turkish state continued its attacks despite this decision. Recently, the KCK announced the end of the halt of all attacks. What made you take this decision?
We declared a halt of all military attacks for a reason. A very heavy earthquake happened in Kurdistan. Thousands of our people were killed and injured. We wanted to fulfill our responsibility and alleviate the pain of our people. Another reason was to guarantee a strong framework for democratic politics. Because in war, inevitably, democratic politics cannot wage a strong struggle. Because there is a fascist and genocidal government in Turkey which interferes in everything. Therefore, our decision was a human and moral decision. In the context of the elections in Turkey and North Kurdistan, there was talk among the people that the AKP-MHP would carry out provocations. They had done this before. That is why there was such a fear among the people. We therefore extended the halt of all our attacks in order to prevent any provocations.
Despite our decision to halt all military attacks, the Turkish state did not change its war policy. It wants to destroy the PKK and annihilate the Kurdish people. That is why it was not able to understand the reason for our decision. The Turkish state thought that the guerrilla forces had taken this decision because they had been weakened. It saw the decision as an opportunity to destroy the guerrilla. Therefore, the Turkish state increased its attacks even more, both in the Medya Defense Zones [areas controlled by the guerrilla forces in South Kurdistan] and everywhere in South Kurdistan [North Iraq], Rojava [North Syria] and North Kurdistan [East Turkey]. They carried out many bombardments and continued to use chemical weapons, basically using all the means at their disposal. They took many different measures, such as arrests, killings and heavy punishments in the prisons. Since they took these steps, our decision to halt all military attacks has lost its meaning. That is why we have officially declared the end of the halt of all attacks.
Since you declared the end of this decision, the fighting in the Medya Defense Zones has intensified. Can you tell us what the latest developments there are?
The Turkish state has never understood the guerrilla’s power to attack. And it still doesn’t understand it. The Turkish state has certain technological capabilities and some powers are helping it. Thus, it thought that it could easily strike a blow against the guerrilla. But this is nothing more than self-deception. Immediately after we ended the halt of all attacks, many effective and powerful attacks were carried out by the guerrilla forces.
As a result of these attacks, the Turkish state has recently suffered heavy blows in many areas, especially in Xakurkê and Metîna [both areas in South Kurdistan]. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Heval [Comrade] Asya, Azad and Koçer, who were martyred in a recent guerrilla attack in Xakurkê. One of these friends was German, one was Kurdish and one was Turkish. In other words, they represented a variety of peoples. This shows the reality of our movement. It is not only a Kurdish movement, but a movement for the freedom and democracy of all peoples.
Now, the war will intensify even more because, once more, a pro-war government has been established in Turkey. Erdoğan has already said openly that they will wage a stronger military and diplomatic war. The new cabinet was formed on this basis. The Turkish state is currently increasing its attacks day by day. Our resistance against these attacks is also growing stronger. Our people and our democratic and socialist friends need to understand this reality well. When the Turkish state escalates its attacks and the war intensifies, no one should remain silent and simply watch. Wherever they are, they must fulfill their duty to the Kurdish people and the struggle for democracy and freedom.
In its statement on the end of the halt of all military attacks, the KCK stated that after the elections, the Turkish state had increased its attacks especially on Rojava. Most recently, the Qamishlo canton co-chair Yusra Derwêş, deputy co-chair Leyman Şiwêş and council member Firat Tûma were murdered in an attack of the Turkish state. Why are these attacks increasing now?
A meeting was held in Astana recently with the participation of Russia, Syria and Iran. Astana meetings have taken place many times before. But no solution was found to any problem of the peoples, neither in Syria nor in the Middle East. In fact, these meetings made the existing problems even bigger. Obviously, the forces involved also focus on the Kurdish issue in these meetings. But instead of accepting and solving the problem in a political and democratic way, they look for ways to eliminate the Kurds. After each Astana meeting, the problems in Syria and the Middle East grew bigger. The Turkish state has occupied and even annexed many areas in Syria. It has established all its institutions in these areas. It continues to forcibly remove the Kurds from Serêkaniyê, Girê Spî and Afrin and to place gangs [Islamist proxy forces] affiliated with the Turkish state there. In other words, the Turkish state is changing the demography of these areas. It does this because its policy is based on Kurdish genocide. The Turkish state has already stated that it wants all the remaining Kurdish-held territories [in Syria]. That is why it carries out all these attacks in front of the international public.
The Turkish state, which aims to eliminate Kurds and Kurdistan, is not only doing this based on its own strength. On the one hand, the participants in the Astana meeting support the Turkish state, while on the other hand, NATO remains silent. Encouraged by this, the Turkish state continues its war policy with ease. Syria should not make any false plans with the Turkish state that occupies its territory. If it does, it will be the one who suffers the biggest blow. The powers participating in the Astana meetings have said that they will support Syria to eliminate the Kurds. Syria should not accept this because it is a trap. Syria should unite with the Kurdish, Arab and Assyrian people against these plans. It should focus on solving the Kurdish question and negotiate with the Kurds. It should fight against the occupying Turkish state and remove it from the occupied areas. This will serve Syria. If the Syrian state fights against the Syrian people, it will suffer the greatest damage. I believe that Syria understands this.
While talks were being held in Astana, Masrour Barzani met Erdogan and other government officials in Ankara recently. What is your take on these talks?
Yes, while the Astana talks were taking place, Masrour Barzani went to Turkey and met with Erdoğan, Fidan [Turkey’s new foreign minister] and Yaşar Güler [new defense minister]. Afterwards, Yaşar Güler made a statement and said: “Our talks with Masrour Barzani went well and will have positive results.” After Barzani’s talks, Qamishlo was attacked and the co-chair of the Qamishlo Canton Yusra Derwêş, the deputy co-chair Leyman Şiwêş and the council member Firat Tûma were martyred. Of course, Masrour Barzani can go to Turkey and hold talks there. We are not against this. But if Kurds are attacked when he goes to Ankara or while he is there, and if the Kurds are attacked after he returns, there is clearly a meaning to this.
Yaşar Güler, Turkey’s war minister, said that their talks were positive and will soon have practical results. Everybody knows that the Turkish state pursues a policy of genocide against the Kurds. So, what exactly does it mean that they say there were positive talks between them and that the practical results would be seen soon? That is what everybody is asking themselves now: What kind of talks were held between Masrour Barzani and the Turkish state and what decisions were taken? They need to explain this. If they don’t make an explanation and if they don’t take into account all the questions the Kurds have about this, then everyone will think that negative decisions were taken between the Turkish state and Masrour Barzani against the PKK and the Kurdish people. Because the Turkish state is waging a war against the Kurds.
Again and again, international support has been vital for the defense of Rojava and North and East Syria. How do you see the current international response to Turkey’s attacks?
If Syria does not negotiate with the Kurds and focus on solving the problem with them, of course, the Kurds of Rojava will strengthen their alliance with the peoples. They will increase their resistance against occupation. They will not submit to the Turkish state. Everybody must be aware of this. What we want is for Syria, the Kurdish people and the other peoples to stand against the occupying Turkish state, because the Turkish state wants the war to intensify and the occupied areas in Syria to expand. If Syria does not want more of its territory to be occupied by the Turkish state, then it should improve its relations with the Kurds. The Turkish state carries out attacks and massacres. Almost every day they massacre civilians in Rojava. But everyone is silent. Remaining silent means considering the Turkish state’s massacres against Kurds as normal. If Syria does not see it like that, it needs to stand against these attacks. But if it doesn’t do so, it obviously considers the massacres of the Turkish state as positive. This means that it also has a share in these massacres.
Rojava defends human values. That’s why everyone who calls themselves a democrat, socialist, ecologist, libertarian, artist or intellectual, everyone who is against occupation, annexation, fascism, and who supports democracy and human values must defend Rojava. Because Rojava does not only fight for itself but for humanity as a whole. It has proved this in practice. Rojava has fought a heavy war against ISIS and has suffered thousands of martyrs and wounded. It has thus saved humanity from a great scourge. Now, the Turkish state massacres exactly those people who have stood against ISIS and who defend human values. So why is humanity silent? Some states are silent because of their interests, but why are intellectuals, socialists, women, ecology movements and all those who fight for democracy and freedom silent? They should not remain silent. Because some members of the movements I mentioned have also taken part in this struggle. Some of them were martyred. These movements have also made great efforts for Rojava. That is why humanity must defend Rojava against the Turkish state. Especially the Kurdish people in the four parts of Kurdistan and abroad must defend it.
And the population of Rojava and North and East Syria, how should they respond to the current threats and attacks?
The Turkish state wants to increase its attacks on Rojava. It even aims to occupy new areas. It is currently conducting diplomacy in the international arena to intervene in Rojava. Our people must recognize this. They need to make preparations to defend themselves against occupation. This is what we ask of them: Do not leave your land and homes when the occupation attacks start. You must remain in your land and stand against occupation until the end. If you stay and fight in your lands, the Turkish state will suffer great blows and will not be able to occupy it.