Sabri Ok: The Turkish government is waging a psychological, economic, and political war

Sabri Ok, a member of the KCK Executive Council, answered questions related to the current military situation.

In the second part of this interview, Sabri Ok, a member of the KCK Executive Council, answered questions related to the current military situation, with a particular focus on Iraq's stance. He also talked about the recent European elections, and the discourse of Turkey's domestic political situation.

The first part of this interview can be read here

It was said that the Turkish state was planning a major attack on the Medya Defense Areas in the summer months. For this, many meetings took place between Iraq and the Turkish state. What were the results of these talks, and what is the current stage of the war between the Turkish state and the guerrillas?

A very tough war is being waged both in the Medya Defense Areas and in Imrali. In fact, there is a tough war in Turkey as well. No one can breathe comfortably in Turkey. This is a psychological, economic, and political war. The Turkish state has made a strategy and expressed that it would invade the Medya Defense Areas in the summer and would successfully destroy the guerrillas. They have been trying to put this into practice since April 16th, and since then there has been a fierce and uninterrupted war. Apparently, the Kurdish people and the democratic forces are having a hard time understanding the overall situation. Sometimes it is as if there are two worlds. On the one hand, a great war is being waged in the Medya Defense Areas, and on the other hand, everyone lives according to their own problems. If the Turkish state achieves results against the guerrillas, everyone should know that no one can continue to live in northern Kurdistan and Turkey. That is why the Turkish state is attacking the guerrillas with all its might. It is due to the guerrillas' resistance that the Turkish army is in deadlock. In Zap, Metina, Xakurke, Gare, and the whole Medya Defense Areas, a resistance is being put up with years of experience and a spirit of sacrifice. No one can stand against this will. No matter what the Turkish state, NATO’s second-most powerful army, does, no one can stand in the way of the guerrillas. The Turkish army is fighting immorally and is fully supported by NATO. Despite all this, it cannot achieve results against the guerrillas. Our people should be aware of this and take courage from this reality.

As early as the spring months, Turkish delegations were constantly holding talks with the Iraqi state. They requested that Iraq and the KDP fight together against the PKK. We know, more or less, what was discussed and what results were achieved. I would like to say a few things to the Iraqi state: The Iraqi state knows that the PKK has been in the mountains of Kurdistan for more than 40 years since the Saddam era. The PKK has never harmed Iraqi society, the people of southern Kurdistan, the Kurdish people, or even the Iraqi state. On the contrary, the PKK has always defended Kurdish, Arab, Turkmen, Assyrian, and all other peoples and communities. It is a shame that the Iraqi state of Baghdad, despite this, has declared the PKK a banned organization. We know what this means. This is not just a statement. This decision is not right, and the Iraqi state should review and correct this wrong decision as soon as possible. A few years ago, the PKK saved the future of the Iraqi, Kurdish, Assyrian, Yazidi, and Arab people against ISIS. It waged a self-sacrificing war and proved itself. It is incorrect to take such a decision instead of respecting such a movement and instead of establishing an alliance of friendship. If the Iraqi state says it is an independent state, then how come the Turkish state occupies hundreds of kilometers of its territory, establishes bases in dozens of places, and thousands of troops enter its territory? This is the annexation of land by an independent state. How can this happen? You do not exercise your international legal rights, you do not condemn the practice of the Turkish state, you do not hold it to account, and you prevent society from reacting. You do not allow the press to say anything against the Turkish state. This is the reality of a state which calls itself independent.

For more than thirteen years, the Syrian state and Bashar al-Assad has been fighting a very brutal war. Syria has been plundered and occupied by ISIS, the Turkish state, and many gangs. There is an Autonomous Administration in North and East Syria, and they are in favor of solving the problems through dialogue, but the Turkish state has occupied Syrian territory. It is running its administrative system on Syrian territory; it has annexed areas, considering these places a part of its own territory. It has placed thousands of mercenaries there. Despite all this, the Syrian state responds to the Turkish state’s request for talks by saying that they will not hold any talks until the Turkish state, which occupied their lands, withdraws its forces. One really has to respect the Syrian state for this stance. They show a principled stance; they say that, as a state, they will not meet with anyone who occupies their lands.

We were expecting Iraq to take such a stance. Sometimes they imply for the Turkish state to get out of Iraqi territories, but at the same time they hold dozens of meetings. This is not right. The Iraqi state should know this; it should not be afraid of Erdoğan’s constant threats. Erdoğan is not like he was ten, twenty, or even four years ago. He has no power over society anymore. He has only bureaucracy and the power of the state. And their time in power will be over. The Iraqi state should think more strategically and broadly and conduct politics accordingly. As a movement, we want this injustice to be overcome, and the Kurdish people, our movement, Arab society, and the Iraqi state should develop friendly relations. Because there has never been harm between us.

Of course, there are those who want to drive a wedge between Iraq and the Turkish state, to make them take a stand against the PKK, and who see this as their duty. Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein is spearheading this. He is trying to make Baghdad and Ankara get along. Again, there are those in the Iraqi parliament who play into the hands of the Turkish state. For example, the Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament and the Minister of Defense. I condemn them and their actions. Our people should know that these people are the cause of many problems. Undoubtedly, this is a process that continues. The Turkish state has not achieved any significant results; it is locked at the moment. We know that it will use all its power against us, but we are confident in our strength, our experience, and the level of our technology, and we are preparing ourselves with a sacrificial spirit.

Politics in Turkey is boiling. Everyone is undermining each other. The fascist AKP-MHP, once again, wants to usurp the will of the Kurdish people by appointing trustees to the legal positions of Kurds. On the other hand, the government is creating fake agendas and the opposition in Turkey is being distracted by this. They prevent the discussion of real problems. In the face of such a situation, what attitude should the democratic and revolutionary forces of Turkey take?

Everything in the Turkish state, especially Erdoğan and Bahceli, is based on dishonesty. They follow no principles or values. They created a false agenda called ‘normalization’. The name alone makes me uncomfortable, because a situation in which the Kurdish language, identity, and existence are denied but at the same time described as ‘normal’ is simply wrong. The Kurdish people should not join this discussion of ‘normalization’. Rêber Apo’s situation and the war being waged are obvious. They want to distract everyone with these false agendas. In his 22 years in power, Erdoğan has never been as weak and desperate as he is today. They have many problems internally; they are covered in filth. They even say that they have to be careful. They probably take the public for sheep, but the eyes of society have now been opened. That’s why they are reacting. Turkey has serious problems. Either there will be someone who thinks about the future of Turkey, who sees themselves as responsible, and who comes up with humane and democratic solutions. Or there will be someone who will exacerbate these problems and exert pressure. AKP-MHP is doing exactly this right now.

The appointment of trustees is also related to this. There is war in the Medya Defense Areas, there is torture against Rêber Apo. Despite and due to all this pressure, the government is falling. We, the democratic forces, and the Kurdish people must organize, take action, and respond with this consciousness. And we should know that time is very precious for us. Every passing day is working against Erdoğan. The resistance against the trustees in Wan and Colemerg (tr. Hakkari) is very important. The democratic forces, socialists, women, youth, all of Turkey, and all Kurdish people are acting together. One gets excited in the face of this. I find the emergence of such a common will and acting together important and exciting. This must be insisted on. That’s why the Wan resistance was very good and successful. The people in Colemerg are also resisting and must insist on this stance. The alliance of the Kurdish people and democratic forces is very important. Every democratic organization in Turkey must stand by the struggle of the Kurdish people. The Turkish state is afraid of this alliance.

Oppression and usurpation by trustees are being used specifically against the people in Kurdistan, but the people on the Turkish side are also suffering. They are also hungry, and many are driven to suicide. In this situation, the democratic forces and the DEM Party should organize rallies and further actions together. They should express the economic and political problems of society in parliament. If they do so, their alliance will grow even more. The struggle should not weaken; it should not be said that results cannot be achieved in the face of the Turkish state. If we insist on the struggle, we will be able to yield results, but not in a passive way; that is, not only with sit-ins and singing, but more organized and radical action should be taken. Erdoğan was weakened after the election; his will was broken to a certain extent. He wants to change the agenda with ‘softening’, ‘normalization’, and talks with the CHP. This shows how weak he has become.

For some time now, Erdoğan has been saying, “we will not allow the establishment of a terrorist state on our border”. What is Erdoğan’s “Terroristan” discourse?

The Kurdish people and the whole world, especially Turkish society, know that Erdoğan is the biggest terrorist ever. His hostility towards the Kurdish people is obvious. He is the biggest terrorist alive. Let’s take, for example, Kurds in Japan; they want to learn their language in accordance with Japanese law. Erdoğan raised hell to prevent this. Every Kurd should get this message. The KDP should also get this message. Erdoğan is the enemy of the Kurdish people. Rêber Apo once said, “Someone trying to put handcuffs on your language also wants to put handcuffs on your heart, brain, and future.” If one puts handcuffs on the language of the Kurdish people, they cannot speak and they cannot learn their language. Isn’t this the biggest terrorism? Erdoğan defines a whole people as terrorists. During the referendum in southern Kurdistan, Erdoğan threatened that they had brought their army to the border and that if the KDP would not step back, they would do “whatever it takes.” The Barzanis seem to have forgotten this, or they put it aside for their own interests. But this is the truth: Erdoğan does not want the Kurds to have anything, even if it were in space.

The whole world witnessed how Kurdish, Arab, and Christian people fought together against ISIS in Rojava. More than 20.000 people gave their lives. It was Erdoğan who ordered ISIS to leave Mosul and directed them to Damascus instead, and it was Erdoğan who encouraged ISIS to attack Kobane. Even arrested ISIS fighters admit this. There are many documents that prove this. It was Erdoğan who supported, protected, strengthened, and financed ISIS. There will be elections in the municipalities in North and East Syria. Millions of people live in that region, and they already held elections in the past. Why are you calling them terrorists now? Kurds should know that this is pure enmity against Kurds. The Kurdish people, the Turkish society, and the Arab society should know that Erdoğan sees himself as the 5th caliph and wants to occupy Libya and Iraq everywhere.

It’s constantly in the press that Sinan Ateş, the former head of the national quarries, was murdered in Ankara. His wife has been traveling from party to party for his cause, she met with Ozel and lastly with Erdoğan. Erdoğan’s hostility towards Kurds is also seen here. There are more than 17.000 unsolved murders in Kurdistan; 17.000 Kurds were massacred. Their mothers and fathers have been protesting every Saturday for years with pictures of their children. Their cases were not on anyone’s agenda. Medet Serhat was a lawyer; he was murdered in the middle of Istanbul, who talked about him? Who talked about Musa Anter? Tahir Elçi was martyred on live TV in front of cameras; a few days ago, the perpetrator was acquitted. Who talked about him? Seven members of the Dedeogullari family were murdered in Konya. It was never on the agenda. Weren’t they human beings? I say the same for the CHP. Thousands of people like Savas Buldan and Behcet Canturk were murdered. There is no law for the Kurdish people in Turkey. Is what was done to Rêber Apo lawful? Is the murder and disappearance of 17.000 people lawful? Yesterday, HPG announced that in just one day, thirty areas including Qendil were bombed; banned and chemical weapons are used every day. Are these legal?

Not only the Kurdish people, but people of conscience, democrats and even liberals must see this double standard and the Kurdish hostility of Erdoğan and Bahceli. They sent mother Halise the bones of her child in a sack by mail. They gave a father the bones of his child in a bag. They should think about how a person’s psychology can withstand this. This is how they are hostile to Kurds. Again, mother Emine Senyasar’s search for justice continues. In short, it is Erdoğan, the Turkish state and the AKP that terrorize everything and keep themselves alive through chaos and crises. They say they do not accept the establishment of ‘Terroristan’, but they want to establish ‘Gangistan’. Neither the Syrian state nor the people of Rojava recognize and accept them. The Kurdish people will continue their resistance in every sense against all the attacks of the AKP government.

Right-wing extremists received a high number of votes in the European elections. What do you think is the reason why radical right-wing extremists received so many votes? What impact will this situation have on Turkish politics?

There is a nationalist vein in Europe. There were wars between Germany, France, England, and Italy. ISIS and Al-Qaeda carried out attacks in Europe for a while, and many people, including women and children, lost their lives. European society reacted by criminalizing the Middle East because most of the perpetrators are Muslims. I think this is one reason. The other reason is the Russia-Ukraine war. If Russia invades Ukraine today, Russia and Europe will be neighbours. So European society is questioning why Russia is not being stopped. That’s why society has turned to the right wing. But the issue they are angry about is the issue of migration. It is an issue that also concerns Turkey. Millions of people have migrated to Turkey from Iraq and Syria. And Erdoğan consciously kept the doors open. Because he wanted to make this a trade and bargaining chip for himself. There was a G7 meeting a while ago. As far as I am informed, the Turkish state has not attended this meeting for five or six years. This year, Turkey attended. They bargained over migrants; they told Erdoğan they would give him as much money as he wanted; he just needed to keep the gates closed and not let them come to Europe or their countries.

Recently, a boat sank again in Italy, and dozens of people lost their lives. This is something that is done consciously. They don’t intervene in time; they want people to be afraid, to say so they let them drown. Turkey’s economic situation is obvious; they need money, foreign currency, and capital, so in return that Erdoğan keeps the gates shut, Europe gives him money. These states don’t care about the people running away from their homelands; people who have had to leave their lands because of war, hunger, or poverty. They don’t treat those people like human beings; they trade on them. This is immoral. And Europe, which constantly talks about human rights, is doing this, together with Turkey. They are trampling on all human values. This is why I think the radical right is on the rise in Europe.