Hozat: Global campaign for Öcalan reached a very important level and now needs to develop further

Besê Hozat spoke about the struggle for the physical freedom of the Kurdish people's leader Abdullah Öcalan.

Besê Hozat, co-chair of the KCK Executive Council, spoke about the struggle for the physical freedom of the Kurdish people's leader, Abdullah Öcalan, and the local elections in Turkey and North Kurdistan.

Let us first take a look at the situation of the Kurdish people's leader, Abdullah Öcalan and, above all, at the struggle for his physical freedom. The global campaign that has been running since the end of last year has seen several highlights. Your movement is currently calling for a new phase and struggle on different levels. Can you explain this?

The global campaign under the slogan ‘Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan, a Political Solution to the Kurdish Question’ has reached a very important level, both in terms of societal resistance and in terms of legal, diplomatic, political, and ideological struggle. But it is necessary to develop the campaign even further. The main goal of the campaign is to ensure the physical freedom of Rêber Apo [Abdullah Öcalan]. Safeguarding his health, security, and freedom requires a much more comprehensive and much greater struggle than that which is currently being conducted.

Of course, political, diplomatic, and legal struggles are important. No law is being applied in Imrali, especially as national and international law is being violated in Turkey. There is a complete lack of conscience and morality against Rêber Apo; therefore, the legal struggle is crucial. Still, in order to achieve results in the named fields, a comprehensive struggle of the masses is necessary. Only when pressure is exerted on the Turkish state through social struggle and resistance, will it be possible to achieve results. Again, we need to exert serious social pressure on the Council of Europe (CoE), the ‘European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment’ (CPT), the European states as a whole, as well as the forces implementing the international conspiracy in order for them to make certain political, diplomatic, and legal improvements, take steps, and change their policies.

Because of their omission, the CPT and the CoE are partners to the Turkish State’s policy of genocide. Turkey finds courage in their silence. For this reason, it is possible that the Imrali system of torture and solitary confinement still exists today. There has been no communication with Rêber Apo for almost three years, his relatives and attorneys have been forbidden to visit him. There has been no news regarding his condition. This is blatantly unconscientious, illegal, immoral, unethical, unpolitical, and inhumane. This silent consent on behalf of the CoE, puts it at odds with its own law.

Despite being a signatory, Turkey is violating the International Convention on Human Rights. Turkey completely disregards, or fails to recognize, any international convention, as if it had taken Europe captive. Whether the Turkish state is blackmailing Europe using refugees as a threat or if there is a covert agreement, could it be possible that such an agreement would influence the policy towards Imrali?

It is unclear if there is a covert deal based on Europe’s refusal to accept refugees in exchange for them turning a blind eye to the brutal misconduct being carried out on Imrali. But what we see and what we know is, that Europe is a partner in Turkey’s crimes against humanity. In a way, Europe has become Turkey’s hostage. Turkey does what it wants and violates international law as it pleases. By turning a blind eye, both the CoE and the CPT have violated international law. In other words, they have violated the law they themselves have created. They are complicit in Turkey’s crimes of genocide and inhumanity. This is not a situation that should be taken lightly or accepted.

We have significantly broadened our struggle for the freedom of Rêber Apo through social, legal, political, diplomatic, and ideological struggle by spreading Rêber Apo’s perspectives, ideas and his philosophy more universally. However, the stage we have reached is still not sufficient. It is necessary to draw hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people from diverse social groups and ethnicities – aside from Kurds – to this freedom campaign. By doing so, pressure can be exerted on the CoE, on the US, and on all the European states, among the other forces that gave rise to the international conspiracy. Everyone ought to be pushed to reevaluate and alter their approaches toward Turkey to bring an end to its policies of genocide, torture, and isolation in Imrali and to ensure Rêber Apo’s physical freedom.

Kurds have spread all over the world; there is a very critical number of Kurdish population in Europe, America, and all over the world. We have gained many important international friends over the course of the 25-year struggle for the freedom of Rêber Apo but particularly since October 10, with the launch of the global freedom campaign. Through expanding their network and engaging the European community, our friends have made a significant contribution to the movement’s internationalization. This could be strengthened by reaching more people and making even more friends and integrating European society in this campaign. Imagine tens of thousands of people organizing prolonged sit-ins in front of the CPT and the CoE. Because societal pressure is effective in Europe, these institutions would be pushed to review and possibly alter their dubious relationships of interest and policies with Turkey.

The Turkish pillar of this campaign is also very important. We saw during Newroz and the municipal elections on March 31 that the climate of fear in Kurdistan and Turkey has been broken, and the fascist government has suffered a very serious blow. It received a fatal wound. Opposition and objection are developing within society, along with the will and courage to resist. The societal pillar of this campaign needs to be developed intensively in North Kurdistan, and Turkey. Further isolation could be prevented if hundreds of thousands of people in North Kurdistan, and Turkey, rose up and marched to Imrali, the Ministry of Justice, and to Ankara. If tens or even hundreds of thousands of people rise up, like in the case of Newroz and the Wan resistance, the isolation will be broken, and the path cleared for Rêber Apo’s physical freedom. This would pave the way for the democratic solution to the Kurdish question and the democratization of Turkey because the source of all the problems is the policy of genocide focused on Imrali. If the war of genocide against the Kurds had stopped, fascism would not exist anymore in Turkey. Turkey would not be as corrupt, lawless, and unfair anymore. The fascist government has abolished their own constitution in order to wage war and genocide against the Kurds. Injustice, unscrupulousness and pollution have never been so high. Politics has become polluted and is causing decay in society.

Now, for the democratization of Turkey as a whole, for justice, law, democratic politics, and a democratic system to develop, these policies of genocide must come to an end. The focus point of the system of torture and isolation is Imrali, so these policies must be abolished in Imrali first. Rêber Apo’s freedom, security, and health must be safeguarded. If this happens, democracy, freedom, and justice will prevail in Turkey. In this regard, societal struggle plays a very important role. Turkey cannot escape fascism if the democratic forces of Turkey, along with all those in favor of democracy, law, justice, equality, and freedom, do not participate strongly in the Kurdish struggle for freedom. If these circles do not struggle for the freedom of Rêber Apo and the democratic solution to the Kurdish question, and if they do not carry out this struggle in solidarity and unity, fascism will not be overcome.

In this respect, I would like to make a call to our people: if our people raise the societal struggle with the spirit of Wan, Shirnak, and Newroz, together with the democratic forces in Kurdistan and Turkey, the isolation in Imrali will be broken.

The municipal elections of March 31 in North Kurdistan and Turkey mark the first time in 22 years that the Erdogan-led AKP has fallen from its first-party status. What are your evaluations in relation to the elections and the attitude of the people?

The municipal elections on March 31st were crucial. It yielded political results which are much beyond the span of local level. The fascist regime has truly taken a significant hit and is now much weaker. The largest industrial and touristic cities in Turkey – that is, the locations where the country’s capital is amassed – were all won by the CHP. The cities of Kurdistan were won by the DEM Party. In Kurdistan, the other system-parties have all but dissipated, most notably the AKP. The Kurdish and Turkish people – especially the labor force, women, and young people – were victorious in this election. Thus, democracy prevailed in Turkey’s municipal elections. Society’s aspirations for justice, freedom, and democracy prevailed. Naturally, this is a highly significant outcome. Ultimately, the fascist power was defeated. The fascist AKP, MHP, and Ergenekon regime were defeated.

Our comrades have already evaluated this, but again, this defeat suffered by the fascist regime will bring new consequences. In foreign politics, the fascist power will be reprimanded. This is an inevitable situation. Externally, every force will review its policies toward this collapsing administration, and this will have repercussions. In fact, this process has already started for the Turkish state. For example, there is currently a very serious upheaval within the AKP. Many have now started to question the relations between the MHP and the AKP, criticizing that the MHP-AKP alliance has brought the AKP to this point. People are analyzing the reasons behind this loss of power, saying that the AKP was manipulated by the MHP and that this had caused the AKP to lose. A rebellion has started within the AKP too. People may have disapproved in the past, yet this election marks the first time in which so many groups expressed their thoughts so boldly.

Erdoğan deliberately adopted an attitude of self-criticism in order to keep his own base. He had been very self-critical until he realized that this meant acceptance of defeat. He later returned to his custom policy of zero-tolerance towards criticism. He says “no one can criticize the AKP except for me”. He is a dictator. This is reflected in everything. If he is going to criticize, only he can criticize. If he wants to self-criticize, only he can criticize himself. He is doing the same thing internally within his party. In this way, he has blocked the way for criticism and self-criticism. Nevertheless, this does not change the fact that the AKP is in a state of turmoil and disintegration.

The AKP is really disintegrating. As a result of the AKP-MHP alliance, the AKP has become the MHP. They have evolved into a more racist, fascist, and anti-societal party. For many years, the last eight or nine years in particular, Erdoğan’s AKP has been developing politics based on MHP mentality. Erdoğan’s everyday language reflects the mentality of the MHP and Devlet Bahceli. This mentality is then put into practice through state policies.

By turning to the MHP, the AKP turned to its own end. Now there is serious decay among the AKP base. The so-called Welfare Party only gained some results because of this shift in the AKP base. This also played a big role in the strengthening of DEM. A certain base of Kurds who broke away from the AKP are now supporting the DEM Party.

The AKP has caused serious polarization in Turkey; it has been playing the nationalist, racist card for years. Only now has it been understood that such policies and mentalities are meaningless. The ‘çöktürme planı’ [plan of forcing them to their knees] that has been going on for almost nine years has also collapsed. Therefore, these fascist, genocidal policies have failed. Fascism suffered a great defeat in these elections.

The participation of the Kurdish society in the elections was very strong. The DEM Party has gained eighty-two municipalities across North Kurdistan and Turkey. This is a very important success. The DEM Party has also gained first-party status in thirteen cities, four of them being major cities. In addition to Amed, Mardin and Wan, the DEM Party is the first party in the administration of Urfa too. Apart from that, places such as Kars, Bitlis, and Şırnak were usurped by the AKP. The AKP really did all in its power to seize and usurp the will of the Kurds. We saw this very clearly in Şırnak, Bitlis and Kars. We saw it very clearly in Hilvan and Beytüşşebap. Nevertheless, the DEM Party is still the first-party in many of these districts. This was a great success.

In fact, the DEM Party has gained greater support in Turkey as well as in Kurdistan. The Turkish press portrays this differently. It is claimed that DEM is the fourth party, which is untrue. In Turkey, the strategy of ‘Urban Consensus’ was successful. Kurds consciously and strategically cast their votes with the goal of overthrowing the fascist regime. It was not the aim of the Kurds to win for one specific party, but rather for democracy itself. This allowed the democratic forces to unite and serve fascism a heavy blow. Significant results were obtained. Naturally, society has become much more dynamic as a result of these outcomes. A spirit of social resistance, a spirit of struggle emerged. Parties have demonstrated their ability and willingness to engage in politics more.

It is imperative that the Kurdish and Turkish people, as well as the democratic forces, interpret the outcomes of the municipal elections correctly. Moving forward, policies should be more pro-society; this concerns particularly the DEM party. From time to time, various circles have criticized the DEM Party, but these criticisms do not reflect the reality. The DEM Party is a party of Turkey. It is the main opposition party that fights for radical democracy in its true meaning. Based on this fact, the DEM Party gained social and political ground in Turkey. Therefore, DEM must appeal to the people in Turkey’s metropolises, cities, towns, and villages. It must correctly introduce itself to the society and peoples of Turkey, influence them, organize them, and gain members. This is very important. To ensure the democratization of Turkey, as the only truly democratic party, the DEM party must reach an extent where it gains municipalities in many Turkish cities too. It must create strong grounds for the organization of societies not only in Kurdistan, but also in Turkey. It must create a base for itself and develop and organize democratic alliances with a wide range of social segments, be it cultural, ethnic, religious, labor, women, or youth groups. At the moment, the grounds for this have been created. In that sense, the DEM party must move to a style, language, understanding and form of organization which appeals to all the societies in Turkey. This is extremely important.

A very important atmosphere has formed in terms of the organization and unity of the democratic forces. The ‘Labor and Freedom Alliance’ can be strengthened. Moving forward, it is necessary to make use of this opportunity. The people are ready for this, as they demonstrated in the elections. Society in Turkey wants democracy; it wants democratic change, a democratic state of law, and a democratic republic. This is a tremendous opportunity for organizing and for working, though it requires mobilization. In this light, the democratic forces have important duties ahead of them; especially the DEM Party, which has acted as a pioneer of the democratic forces in the past elections. It is absolutely necessary to meet the expectations of the people.

One of our comrades, Duran Kalkan, made a very important call the other day. He said: “The peace and democracy movement must develop in Turkey.” And he added, that “at the moment, the political and social ground for this has already been laid.” This is absolutely true. These elections have demonstrated that the democratic forces have established an important social base. In actuality, there would have been much greater gains if the ‘Democratic Power Union’ (DGB) had come into these elections with a general policy. Although the democratic forces – especially the DEM Party – came together and supported these results, there would have been greater outcomes if there had been a shared unity of power. They could have gained many more districts and even several provinces in Turkey if the leftist, socialist, and democratic forces had united more thoroughly and formulated a common strategy, plan, and program.

We followed the situation in Dersim for months. Many parties discussed and negotiated the situation and, as a result, the DEM party decided to enter an electoral alliance in the region. Yet, this alliance policy did not work out very well. It appears that the election campaigns were not successfully conducted in the center of Dersim. The campaign workers either did not work well in this area, or they worked too little. Although the DEM Party was able to win the co-mayorship of the municipality, they were unable to gain a majority in the Dersim council. The alliances were not very successful in any district, except for the Hozat district. The other districts were taken either by the CHP or the AKP. Had DEM approached the area with a better  understanding of an alliance policy, a united force, the necessary program and strategy, it would have easily gained the majority of the seats in central Dersim. The left-socialist alliance would have taken all the districts. Neither the CHP nor the AKP would have won. This is a very serious criticism on their part. But we see that they also criticize and self-criticize this themselves.

The same is true for Turkey. Had the DGB entered the elections in Turkey with a common program, I believe it would have won many seats. This is also the case in terms of social struggle. Wan is a very important example in this regard. A very strong position evolved against the fascist administration due to the resistance of the Kurds, the resistance, unity, and solidarity of the democratic forces in Turkey, as well as the support of the system’s opposition parties. The fascist administration had to step back. Therefore, democracy and the will of the people were victorious. In the example of Van, it was not only the Kurdish people who won, but it was also a success for the democratization of Turkey, the peoples of Turkey as a whole.

If the Labor and Freedom Alliance and the democratic forces of Kurdistan and Turkey work and struggle in the spirit of Wan, they can definitely play a decisive role in the democratization of Turkey, in the democratization of the republic. Though this necessitates a common understanding of the democratic unity of powers. If these united forces produce a movement of peace and democracy, if they walk this path in accordance with the great social resistance and struggle leaned on the experience of Wan, they will be successful.

The CHP has gained first-party status in the 31 March municipality elections. Given the history of the CHP, why did the party gain such results? What impact will this have on the democratization of Turkey?

We cannot leave the democratization of Turkey at the hands of the CHP. The CHP, being the party that founded this 100-year-old republic, still defends its initial ideology. It acts according to the codes of this ideology and carries out politics on this basis.

Many CHP leaders, Özgür Özel in particular, talked about the democratization of the republic. They claim that they built the republic, but even after 100 years, there is still no democracy in sight. They set out with the claim to democratize the country and atone for their past mistakes. If the CHP is able to interpret these elections correctly, it would understand that the democratic circles, along with the Kurdish and Turkish society, have expectations from the Republican Party. This was the main reason for their votes. They demand that the CHP plays a role in the democratization of the republic and changes its policies and codes. The peoples and societies of Turkey demand a change of mentality, they demand a change in understanding, program and policy from the CHP. It has to respond to this, otherwise it will bring upon its own end like it did before, only this time it may not find the opportunity to redeem itself.

The CHP needs to change its paradigm, abandon its official ideology, and give up on its Ittihat Terakki policies. It needs to reject its 100-year republican policies which are based on the denial and annihilation of Kurds. The CHP needs to radically confront what the Republic has inflicted on the Kurds over these past 100 years, what the Turkish nation-state system has done. It needs to officially accept that it perpetrated the Sheikh Sait massacre, the genocides carried out in Dersim and Zîlan and the massacres of Alevis.

The 100-year history of the Republic is a history of genocide. Will the CHP accept accountability for a 100-year genocide? Will it apologize? Will it make this apology by changing its policy, by changing its mentality? Will it do so by presenting the Kurdish people, Alevis and the peoples of Turkey a democratic program? This is how criticism and self-criticism work. Will the CHP oppose the ongoing war of genocide against the Kurds? The focus point of this war is the torture and isolation system being imposed in Imrali. Will the CHP oppose this system of torture and isolation in Imrali? Millions of people are saying that the source of all the lawlessness and injustice in Turkey is the torture and isolation system being imposed on Imrali. Will the CHP take a stance against this?

Justice, lawfulness, and democracy are what the CHP says it wants. The Imrali system is the root of all injustice and lawlessness. The CHP must then formulate its policies and attitudes if it is honest. It must oppose this genocide war. In order for the Kurdish, Turkish, and Alevis people to accept and believe in the CHP, it must demonstrate its worth. The CHP will not secure power until it does so. In fact, the CHP is embarking on an important responsibility by promising to democratize the republic after a century.

Turkish politics is a demagogy; all politicians in Turkey have become demagogues. They are good at demagoguery. Covering up the facts, distorting, lying, deceiving, saying beautiful words and doing the worst in practice. Nobody accepts this anymore. Neither the Kurds, nor the Alevis, nor the workers or laborers. As a whole, neither the democratic forces of Kurdistan and Turkey, nor the Kurdish and Turkish societies give credence to this. The people want to see fulfilled promises, they expect concrete steps. If the CHP achieves this, the people and democratic forces of Kurdistan and Turkey will support the CHP. But if the CHP does not take such concrete steps, if it does not clearly change its program, strategy, policy, mentality and practice, and if it instead becomes an extension of the AKP again, it will not last as long as the AKP.

The previous leader of the CHP, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, became the sole reason the fascist AKP-MHP government survived so long. Despite being the leader of a so-called opposition party, he did not voice dissent once. He did whatever this fascist regime ordered him to. The AKP-MHP chanted fascist slogans while the CHP showed support. The lifting of the immunity of Kurdish members of parliament would not have occurred if the CHP had not given its approval. Selahattin Demirtas, Figen Yuksekdag, Sebahat Tuncel, Gultan Kisanak and thousands more would not be in prison today. All of this, and much more, was made possible by the support of the CHP. Without the CHP’s support, such Ottomanist, occupationist, annexationist, colonialist and genocidal policies would not have been implemented in Syria or Iraq.

Will the CHP really stand by its word? I pose this question for the following reason; given that Erdoğan will only try to deepen his total annihilation policies against the Kurds in order to regain power, why has Erdoğan suddenly started referring to Özgur Özel as ‘Sir’ and ‘dear’? Of course, Erdoğan would want to reconcile with the opposition to gain support for his anti-Kurdish policies, now that the CHP is emerging as a powerful party. But when Erdoğan says he is looking forward to his meeting with Özgur Özel, and that they will be discussing many things, what is to be expected from the CHP? When Erdoğan asks for the CHP’s support for Kurdish genocide policies, will the CHP remember its promises?

Erdoğan wants to enact a genocidal, fascist, dictatorial constitution and he wants the CHP’s support for this. He will wage war everywhere and ask the CHP to remain silent. When silence is no longer enough, he will demand active participation. Kilicdaroglu’s CHP did this in the past. The fascist AKP-MHP government has been waging an all-out genocidal war against the Kurds, uninterruptedly for the past 8–9 years. In Turkey, fascism is in full force. What will the CHP do? This is of course a test for the CHP. Kurds, Alevis, workers and laborers, in other words the democratic society of Turkey, are watching the CHP with great attention. In fact, they are giving the CHP a chance, giving it time. This process is a historical one; it is a test for the CHP.

The elections were very important. This fascist government has done all kinds of evil to the societies of Turkey, it has flushed all the resources of society into war and has impoverished them as a result. It has brought people to the point of starvation, has left no democracy, freedom, equality, justice, or law. Because of these reasons, it is important that the fascist government has been brought to its knees, and that, however little it may be, a slight chance of democracy has emerged. Of course, all forces must put this opportunity to use.