Kalkan: A new struggle has emerged from within the Imrali system

KCK Executive Council member Duran Kalkan made evaluations about the Imrali torture, isolation and genocide system and the 25-year resistance of Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan against it.

KCK Executive Council member Duran Kalkan made evaluations about the Imrali torture, isolation and genocide system and the 25-year resistance of Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan against it.

In the previous interview, we have been talking about the 25-years of the Imrali system in its various dimensions to get a holistic perspective. Now we would like to dwell on the various dimensions of Abdullah Öcalan’s 25-year resistance against this. How is a person capable of resisting such a system of torture, isolation and genocide for a quarter of a century?

How does one survive in such an environment of severe isolation and torture? Normally, it is not possible to survive for 25 years under these circumstances, cut off from society, let alone struggle for that long. Very few people can survive like this. How is it possible to not only survive under these circumstances, but to turn oneself into a fighting force that is a hope for all humanity? This is the reality of Rêber Apo [Abdullah Öcalan]. This is what we call the reality of leadership, what we call the truth of leadership.

In fact, in his 5-volume Manifesto for a Democratic Civilization and in other previous prison writings, Rêber Apo made several evaluations about life in the Imrali system. He expressed how he managed to create life within it, what it is based on, how he survives, how he creates these developments. These evaluations were without any doubt very important. The theoretical theses he presented through his prison writings formed the basis for the paradigm shift of the movement. Rêber Apo managed to express his feelings, understanding and approach to life very clearly here.

When the February 15 conspiracy took place, almost everyone’s hopes were dashed, faith was lost. Almost everyone expressed that at one level or another and just very few people did not fall for this. The vast majority, both within the movement, within our party, within our patriotic people, among our international friends, and throughout the world, have already evaluated it in this way. “Everything is finished!”, they used to say. There was also this common saying: “The PKK cannot survive any longer than 6 months. Then it will disintegrate and there would not be anything anymore called the PKK in this world.” A lot of articles have been written on this basis, and intellectuals, politicians, and a lot of people that think that they know everything discussed this publicly. Those who profited from the international conspiracy and the so-called ‘Kurdish question’ were obviously very happy about this situation. They thought they had “gotten rid of this scourge,” to use their own words. Kurdish patriots and the international friends of the Kurds were feeling great sorrow and agony. They asked themselves: “Now, is this the end?”. There were those who felt great sorrow, those who were filled up with hate, and those who were severely traumatized. It was because they assessed the situation and thought that now that the struggle had failed, there would be nothing left but a reality of isolation and massacre. They said that: “The history of Öcalan is over, nothing can be done for him anymore.” 

When the leadership of our movement declared that we stand by Rêber Apo and will continue to follow him, many of the people and also many of our international friends could not accept it. There were even those who intervened and said: “Enough of Rêber Apo. Now it is time to listen to us and it is time to do our revolution.” There have been many people who have sought to take advantage of this situation and have tried to get their hands on the gains and structures that have been built through the struggle of the movement.

No one thought that the Imrali system could be survived, that the struggle could continue there, and that the struggle for freedom could even develop there. Those who expressed such thoughts were regarded as dreamers fleeing from reality. It really seemed impossible, as it was commonly known, that a normal person can not survive Imrali. But it was exactly this place, from where on the struggle started to grow. The more we were talking about this reality, the more people were mocking us and even getting angry at us. They called on us to forget about Rêber Apo. This is a fact that I did not just make up in my mind, and it is not something that was just said by some people. We have got the written proof of this in our archive. And this stance was nothing that the people just made up. They were looking at themselves, asking themselves if they could take this resistance to a new level, and they said: “I can not.” Hundreds, thousands of political prisoners evaluated their own situation, seeing that they could barely protect themselves when their conditions were still far away from the ones of Imrali. That is why they could not believe that Rêber Apo would be able to do so. “What can a prisoner of the system of capitalist modernity, a prisoner of the United Nations, do in a place like Imrali, how shall he be able to develop, how shell he even find a chance to think or work?”, was the common question in the minds of the resigned people in the prisons.

Only Rêber Apo believed in himself and took a decision based on his own strength and characteristics. He said: “I will fight on here.” He made a call on the movement and on our people and said: “Give me one chance and follow me.” At the beginning of the international conspiracy, the unity between Rêber Apo and the party leadership was very weak. This is mostly due to the fact that the leadership has taken a completely negative stance. Therefore, the most important point was Rêber Apo’s approach. He developed an optimistic and positive attitude in order to form a correct and comprehensive response to the needs and fears of the people. He named the necessity of ending the division and fragmentation, as it can be said that there was no other alternative to it. He had tried a lot of ways and many different methods, that in the end brought him in the situation that he was in. Either he would decide to fight on, and struggle for a successful solution to the ‘Kurdish question’ or he would let things slide. Rêber Apo evaluated the situation and observed this fact clearly. That is why he opted to fight on. Realizing that there would not be any other possible way of finding a solution for such a big question, the leadership of the movement responded: “Yes” and joined Rêber Apo in his struggle. Rêber Apo said to this: “Anyway, there would not be any other option for you.” At a time when Rêber Apo had faced the Imrali system of torture, isolation and genocide despite applying every possible method, what else could our leadership or any of us have done? We couldn’t have done anything. At most, we could have repeated Rêber Apo at a lower level. Even if we had applied practices at or close to the level of Rêber Apo, the point we would get to would have been Imrali. We would have just experienced a repetition. So the important point was not to repeat this practice, but to go beyond what we had done until then. Rêber Apo called on us to go beyond what we had done before. He trusted that we could do it, and he supported us in that. At the same time, society trusted in Rêber Apo and formed a unity around him. They rose up against the conspiracy of February 15. The youth, women and all working Kurds in the four parts of the country and also in exile rose in popular uprisings. It was the sacrificial resistance of the people who developed the defense of Rêber Apo under the slogan ‘You cannot darken our sun’. This showed the faithful stance of the people and their trust with Rêber Apo. This was their way to join in Rêber Apos call.

Rêber Apo mainly defined the power of the struggle, the power to resist on Imrali, as a meaningful life. He said that for: “understanding life and finding a way on how to live it”, we should look at the example he is giving. This is also the core of his evaluations in the prison writings. A meaningful life is a life with meaning. This is transcending the narrow, ordinary material life. The existence as a whole, the universe, the world, society and the life of humanity should not just be looked at on a materialist level. The crystallization of the significance of one thing gives life its meaning and makes it significant. When material things are loaded with such a significance, then they become a value. Therefore, Rêber Apo does not regard it as right to see life as the fulfillment of just such simple material needs. He underlined, that such an understanding should not be the outcome of an analysis, done both on an emotional as well as analytical level. He said that beings with the narrowest intellect and power of thought see and do it that way. That means not being able to go beyond and not really differing from animals. If we limit ourselves to a rigid, narrow, material life, then there will be no point at which the human being differs from other species. What is this point of difference? The power of a meaningful life, the power of giving meaning to something, the power to give meaning to life, the power to develop emotion, thought, and a world of spirituality and morality. To be able to see that human beings are spiritual beings as much as they are material beings, even more so, and that social life is made up of spiritual patterns, and to be able to take pleasure in this. How is Rêber Apo capable of doing research and deep thinking on these topics? On which basis? Undoubtedly, he has a great deal of practical experience beforehand. Since the mid-60s, he has been educating and developing himself in every aspect, following the events and developments in Kurdistan, Turkey and the world. He stated that he started this work from childhood, that he started to give meaning to life from childhood, from the age of 7, that he chose the path of living meaningfully, that he always questioned the existing life and always doubted its veracity. These are the basic characteristics of Rêber Apo.

These accumulations of experience of this great struggle, guerrilla warfare, the struggle of the party, made it possible for Rêber Apo to develop. He started research and deepened his thinking, trying to reach a comprehensive, holistic understanding and thought about the universe, the earth, social life, human existence. Rêber Apo has never stepped away from this struggle, he never said anything like: “I got trapped here behind these thick walls. I can not get out of here. Life is finished.” On the contrary, he said: “Here life will be created.”