On 15 August 1984, “the first shot” was fired by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Eruh, in North Kurdistan. A 36-strong guerrilla force led by the legendary commander Mahsum Korkmaz - also known by his nom de Guerre Egîd ("the Brave") - carried out the first attack against the Turkish occupying forces that day. A military police barracks was selected for the action, which is considered the beginning of the armed liberation struggle. One guard and one officer were killed, while the guerrillas did not suffer any casualties.
The founding declaration of the HRK (Hêzên Rizgarîya Kurdistanê) was then read over the loudspeaker of a mosque. The statement by the "Kurdistan Liberation Forces", as the guerrillas called themselves in the first years of the armed struggle in reference to the "Unit for the Liberation of Vietnam" formed at the beginning of the Vietnamese freedom struggle, said: "The HRK pursues the goal of fighting for our people for national independence, a democratic society, freedom and unity led by the PKK armed against imperialism, Turkish colonial fascism."
A simultaneous raid was carried out under the command of Abdullah Ekinci (Ali) in Şemdinli. The guerrilla unit targeted a military barracks and attacked with machine guns and rockets. The Turkish state suffered losses in this attack too. Both towns were also briefly controlled by the HRK. 15 August broke the silence after the military coup of 12 September 1980. This day is considered a holiday by many Kurds because it marks the beginning of a movement that now includes millions.
PKK: The road to victory
On the occasion of the upcoming anniversary, the Executive Committee of the PKK issued a statement describing 15 August as a historic turning point that changed the fate of Kurdistan and the Kurdish people. Under the heading "To our patriotic people and democratic forces," the PKK said:
“As Kurds, we have been free in the relentless and inestimably important fight for freedom for 38 years. The Resistance for Freedom and Independence, which started 38 years ago with the actions in Eruh and Şemdinli, continues today in our guerrilla actions, dealing mortal blows to the fascist enemy throughout Kurdistan, especially in Zap, Avaşîn and Metîna, and actions of our people that prepare the way to victory.
First, on its 38th anniversary, we would like to commemorate the revolutionary dawn of 15 August that changed the course of history. We salute all comrades, especially Rêber Apo (Abdullah Öcalan), our courageous guerrilla forces, the women's and youth movement, our patriotic people and our revolutionary-democratic friends on this which is the Day of Resurrection and Guerrilla. We commemorate all our brave fallen with respect, love and gratitude, remembering them in the person of Heval Egîd, the immortal commander of the revolutionary dawn. We commemorate with great respect all our fallen on August 15, starting with friends Seyfettin Zoğurlu and Mustafa Yöndem to comrades Atakan Mahir, Zeki Şengalî and Agit Garzan. We reiterate our promise to fight for their goals and keep their memory alive. On the 38th anniversary of August 15, we wish all those fighting for freedom and democracy every success.
"A Spark in the Darkness"
As is well known, the revolutionary initiative of 15 August 1984 gave new life to the great prison resistance of 1982 by taking it to the guerrillas in the mountains and in this way reaching the people in all parts of Kurdistan. The first bullet of freedom fired in the darkness of 12 September [1980 military coup in Turkey] impacted all of Kurdistan. A spark was ignited that would light up the darkness in Kurdistan and eventually around the world. As the beginning of the blows against colonial fascism and the policy of genocide, this day became a hope for the people and for humanity. Breaking through all forms of slavery, submission, collaboration and betrayal, 15 August created independent thinking and free living. He represented the effective and successful implementation of apoistic thought and action and thus, from a historical point of view, proved the correctness of this line.
It is very clear that the Kurds have achieved what they have achieved in terms of independence, freedom and democracy on the basis of the 15 August spirit.
On this basis, awareness, organization and practice were developed. This is how the reconstruction of the PKK, the resolute leadership of the guerrilla, the women's and youth movement, the tremendous courage and the willingness to make sacrifices came about. The Serhildan [popular uprisings] of the 1990s were thus achieved. The historical revolution of national awakening is based on this and the revolution for women's freedom was sparked on this basis. While the status of the Kurdistan Region in Başûr [South Kurdistan] was the indirect result of this breakthrough, the freedom revolution in Rojava is a direct result of this process.
"New Consciousness and New Form of Life"
With 15 August, the influence of the genocidal mentality and policies imposed on Kurdistan was broken. A full-scale reconnaissance movement was sparked in the region, including Turkey and the Middle East. This movement radiates worldwide. Through Rêber Apo a revolution in the way of life and a new understanding of the truth was created for all mankind. With a democratic, ecological and women-liberating paradigm and the project of democratic confederalism, which is based on democratic autonomy, the way has been paved to solve all problems caused by the system of power and state. From now on, no social problem is unsolvable, no matter where in the world it occurs.
“Two difficult tests overcome”
The revolutionary uprising of the guerrillas of 15 August and the apoist line that produced it have successfully passed two major tests in the historical process. The first was the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the second the international conspiracy against Rêber Apo. Rêber Apo successfully overcame both of these historical developments through his ever-deepening revolution of mentality and conscience. He became a new source of hope, pointing the way to democratic liberation and a free life for all oppressed humanity. Now the hope for freedom is stronger than ever.
“The fight against patriarchy is possible”
Our movement and our people have developed along this line of apoism. A passionate attachment to free life as well as the courage and willingness to make sacrifices to fight for freedom under any circumstances have emerged. Kurdish women and youth in particular have become a force on this line, overcoming all sorts of difficulties and obstacles. On this basis, the guerrilla struggle of the Kurdish youth has become an example and a new hope for all youth, while the Kurdish women's struggle for freedom has generated enthusiasm around the world. This awareness of self-defense and organizing that developed on the basis of the women's guerrilla YJA Star showed everyone that it is possible to fight successfully against the patriarchal mentality and politics.
"The resistance will achieved victory"
This is how the Kurds overcame their enslavement and their weaknesses and have continuously resisted fascism, colonialism and genocide under Turkish rule for 38 years. So a line was drawn through the calculations made at the expense of Kurdistan. It was thus proven that the Kurds are capable of fighting and advancing even under the most unfavourable conditions. For 24 years, there has been successful resistance against the international conspiracy and the regime of torture and isolation on Imrali.
Today, in the 39th year of the great awakening, the resistance continues in all areas, in the mountains, in the plains, in the city, in all four parts of Kurdistan and abroad.
The Kurdish freedom guerrilla fights courageously in the Medya defense areas, in Bakur [Northern Kurdistan] and Başûr and in the metropolises of Turkey and writes history with their resistance. Formed and organized on the example of Egîd and Zîlan, it is thus repelling the attacks of the NATO and KDP-backed AKP-MHP regime. This is how Kurdistan is truly made the grave of fascism. We are closer to freedom than ever before. On this basis, we once again salute the courageous guerrilla resistance in all areas, especially in Zap, Avaşîn and Metîna; we heartily celebrate our historical achievements; we commemorate all our brave fallen with respect and gratitude and remember our last fallen, comrades Güven Doza and Vorîn Welat. We wish the guerrillas every success and are convinced that they will be victorious.
"Our people are bravely resisting"
It is clear that the fascist enemy will continue its attacks on North and East Syria and on the Medya Defense Areas. Regions like Shengal and Maxmur are also attacked at every opportunity. On this basis Turkey wants to drive the population in Rojava and Başûr to flee and occupy these parts of Kurdistan. With that in mind, the Turkish government is rushing door-to-door from the US to Russia to get approval. However, it is clear that the Turkish government is no longer finding the same opportunities as it used to and is in the process of collapse. We believe that the freedom forces and the peoples of all these areas will unite and organize to valiantly resist the genocidal occupation attacks and hasten the collapse of AKP-MHP fascism. We believe in this and want people to know that they have not only ours but humanity's support for this.
It is obvious that our people are bravely resisting the colonial fascist attacks in all four parts of Kurdistan and abroad, thus continuing the trail of 15 August. Guerrilla resistance is a great source of morale and strength for the people. The Kurdish people have built relationships and alliances with the other peoples and the revolutionary democratic forces in Turkey and abroad. As a result, it is able to keep increasing its resistance. We salute this resistance and especially those fighting for Rêber Apo's physical freedom and wish them every success.
"The AKP-MHP regime will have to answer for its crimes"
Our people and the public know very well that we as a movement, people and leadership have always stood up for a democratic solution to the problems and have worked very intensively and self-sacrificingly for this. But the AKP-MHP dictatorship, in its hatred of the Kurds, knows nothing other than fascist terror, massacres, torture, persecution and occupation. To this end, the regime has put all its means and options on the negotiating table to secure a deal for an all-out war against the Kurds. Many forces, from NATO to the KDP, support these genocidal attacks. They are accomplices in the crime of genocide. On this occasion we once again warn the KDP and the NATO countries in particular: the AKP-MHP regime will fall and will be held accountable for the crimes against humanity it has committed. That's for sure. So everyone should be careful. Nobody should take part in this crime against humanity and not soil their hands with Kurdish blood. In this context, the statements of 300 intellectuals in Turkey and 70 democrats on behalf of the 'International Kurdish Solidarity Collective' are very important. We applaud this stance and call on all who call themselves democrats to take a stand on this basis and speak out against the Turkish occupation and genocide.
"No other way than revolutionary people's war"
In the 39th year after the start of 15 August, it has become clear that there is no other way for us as a movement and a people than to fight and win on the basis of the revolutionary people's war. As a party and guerrilla, as a women's and youth movement, as a people and its friends, we are deeply aware of this. We will continue our Time for Freedom offensive in every area and lead our fight to victory on the 15 August line. This will be a year of greater struggle and more decisive victories than ever before.
On this basis, we once again salute all comrades, our people, their friends and especially Rêber Apo on the Day of Guerrilla and Resurrection, 15 August. We call on all our people and friends, especially women and youth, to advance our freedom struggle and celebrate 15 August with the utmost passion everywhere.”