Kalkan: Imrali system of torture, isolation and genocide continues
Duran Kalkan said that "there is no change in the pressure, torture and isolation practices on Imrali. It is necessary to underline this every time. "
Duran Kalkan, a member of the KCK Executive Council, talked about the campaign for the freedom of Kurdish people's leader Abdullah Öcalan.
Part one of this interview can be read here
Let's begin with the situation and the resistance of the leader of the Kurdish people, Abdullah Öcalan. In regard to the upcoming 25th anniversary of the international conspiracy of February 15, what can you tell us about his situation, the latest legal efforts and, in general, the development of the global campaign for his physical freedom? Also, how do you analyze the interrelation between the situation inside Turkey and the policies being practiced on the prison island of Imrali?
I would like to respectfully salute Rêber Apo [Abdullah Öcalan] and his historic Imrali resistance. There is no change in the pressure, torture and isolation practices on Imrali. It is necessary to underline this every time. We should not refrain from expressing this fact just because we say it a lot. What is new is the development regarding resistance. The global campaign aiming for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo and the solution to the Kurdish question is developing with new activities in Kurdistan and all over the world. It is as if a process is being completed. Since October 10, there have been many developments in this regard. There are statements evaluating that the first phase of the campaign has been completed and that new mobilizations will be on the agenda. There have been preparations that will probably be implemented in February, on the occasion of the anniversary of the international conspiracy. We will see.
The actions on the street by young people, women and generally by the peoples continue. There are demonstrations and rallies everywhere. Also, there are statements by institutions, groups and movements demanding the physical freedom of Rêber Apo everywhere. In addition to this, there are now also statements by various prominent people, for example, by members of the European Parliament. Leftist and socialist forces, academics from all over the world are making statements. There are even statements on behalf of labor unions, artists. What I want to point out is, that there are statements from all walks of life. The physical freedom of Rêber Apo is demanded. There are also press releases from lawyers and the Asrin Law Office [the one being responsible for the case of Abdullah Öcalan and the others imprisoned on Imrali island] announced its balance sheet for 2023. They announced that they have submitted 110 applications to go to Imrali. In other words, they applied twice a week, also there were 59 applications by the family. That’s a total of 169 applications and none of them yielded any results.
Some were rejected, others were spared any form of response. This is the situation. This is the approach to the law of those who run the system of torture, isolation and genocide on Imrali. This is their attitude and stance towards the implementation of legal rights such as lawyer visits and family visits. This is once again being revealed and seen in a very concrete way. Recently, various legal institutions have announced that they will apply to the Turkish Ministry of Justice and take various initiatives in order to be able to go to Imrali and to break this isolation system. So there is movement on that front as well.
There have been evaluations and statements by the lawyers of Rêber Apo regarding the isolation. It must have been 10 days ago, which is important for Turkey. 564 intellectuals called for a ‘Voice of Peace’ in Istanbul and Amed [Turkish name Diyarbakir]. Their demands were clear, concrete. They want Turkey to be democratized. They clearly stated that the way to achieve this was through the physical freedom of Rêber Apo, through negotiations with him. Those who think a little bit about Turkey, those who love the country, and try to understand the process, see what is happening and what is being done. They see what kind of a catastrophe this is developing and realizing step by step for Turkey. On this basis, they propose solutions with great effort and passion. They are also anxious about the future. Because they have eyes, ears and brains that can see the dangers this course entails. They understand and see that the Tayyip Erdoğan administration has brought Turkey to the brink. To put it mildly, it is not clear whether it has rolled off the cliff or whether it is still standing. He has brought it face to face with disaster. Everyone sees, evaluates, understands and discusses this more now.
The AKP stooge press discusses it the most. To brainwash people, to divert the agenda. They do it so that people don’t see the truth, don’t think, to mislead them. It is as if they have all become philosophers. Some are strategists, some are ideologists, some are theoreticians, some are commanders, warriors. They draw strategies and determine tactics. They lie that they have seen places they have never seen. Then they make a lot of pontifications, all for brainwashing. To make people in Turkey unable to think and understand.
Why? So that this disaster cannot be seen. So that the abyss that this government, Tayyip Erdoğan’s administration, has brought Turkey to cannot be seen. The world has excluded Turkey from its system. The power that says it is the center of the system, the power on which the system has been sitting for 100 years, the power that says it is the bridge between Europe and Asia, now it is not even a bridge but a road. It has made it like this. This is the result of its Kurdish enmity, its Kurdish policy, its Kurdish policy of genocide. It is the result of the war it wages in Kurdistan, because of the invasion attacks against Western and Southern Kurdistan. Obviously, where there is war, there is no capital. Capital also seeks and wants stability. Because its god is maximum profit. Maximum profit is the heaven of everything for it. Everything depends on it. And in order to make a profit, of course stability is necessary, a comfortable environment is necessary. Now Tayyip Erdoğan making statements like: “do you know the price of a bullet”, “I am developing the domestic and national industry, the war industry”, “our ancestors always fought, they never got off horseback”, and “the hill of martyrs should not remain empty”. By organizing gangs and launching attacks against the Kurdish people in Northern Kurdistan [South-East Turkey], South Kurdistan [North Iraq] and Rojava [North Syria], he has reduced this area, the historical Silk Road, the crossroads of trade routes from east to west and north to south, to a non-trade area. Everyone sees this. They now know what this means for Turkey’s future. The era of the system and status quo established a century ago is over. There were people who were saying that the centennial of Lausanne was over, that we were entering the hundred and first year. The hundred and first year seems to be the year when the system that emerged with Lausanne is coming to an end. Because now it has lost all of what it called its historical and strategic position. There is neither the Union of Soviets to act as the gendarme of Europe, nor does anyone trust it. They don’t assign him the role of the Middle East’s gendarme. Because he cannot fulfill that role. The system has created new paths for itself, new places. It created new projects in the Middle East. Tayyip Erdoğan, who once said he was the co-chair of the Greater Middle East Project, is now excluded from the Middle East. He is a president who has excluded his state from the Middle East. What will this society do with such a president? He has left no place for Turkey. Turkey will now be in a position outside of capitalist modernity. If there is to be a future, it will either become a slave to the system, or it will become an area that is exploited and oppressed by the system. It has no other value left. Now everyone sees and evaluates these things.
Those who love Turkey, those who think democratically, those who have a passion for a free life want to get rid of this disaster, they are looking for salvation. They see that the way to this is through the physical freedom of Rêber Apo, through opposing the Imrali system of torture, isolation and genocide, through the freedom of the Kurds, and that the Kurdish question must be solved through the freedom of the Kurds on the basis of the democratization of Turkey.
Such a consciousness is developing to a certain extent in Turkey. Partially, but there is such oppression and persecution that no one can say it. Here 564 intellectuals have made a brave declaration. If it continues in this manner, perhaps it can break this silence.
This ongoing disaster is not limited to Turkey, it has a negative impact on the free and democratic life of all the peoples of the Middle East, it has a negative impact on the free existence of humanity. Therefore, everyone is disturbed by this. Against this, wherever Rêber Apo’s ideas reach, people see and understand the reality better. Therefore, what we define as the global campaign for freedom, which aims for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo and the solution of the Kurdish question, continues to develop and spread. From Rojava to North Kurdistan, the society is constantly on its feet. So are the youth, women and our society abroad.
What to do? Of course we need to make this campaign even bigger. It is necessary to spread it further. Rêber Apo once said, “Wherever my prison writings are, there am I.” So we need to carry his prison writings everywhere, to the four corners of the world, into the hands of everyone. It is necessary to carry out such a work. The campaign is essentially such a campaign. It is a campaign to gain consciousness of freedom and to take action for freedom. This will develop.
We entered 2024 with such a campaign as a movement, as a people, as humanity. With an ambitious campaign, we want to achieve results, victory and success in 2024. We aim to completely dismantle the Imrali system of torture, isolation and genocide, and the following processes will continue with moves that will lead to such developments. Especially the 26th year of the struggle against the international conspiracy will also be the year of victory for the freedom campaign.
When we talk about the Imrali system of torture and isolation, and about the struggle against it, when we express the reality of Rêber Apo, we need to look at this quarter-century-long Imrali process. The Imrali system is not an ordinary system. When it is written about is called ‘prison’, but it is nothing like that. It is not an ordinary hostage area either. It is the center of managing the Kurdish genocide. Imrali is where the genocide against Kurds is being shaped and directed. The biggest genocidal attack takes place on Imrali. The Imrali system is such a genocidal system and this is what is being applied to the whole Kurdish society. The system of governance that imposes genocide on the Kurds is also the system that governs Turkey.
This world was shaped on the mentality and politics of the Turkish Republic, which ignores the existence of the Kurdish identity and wants to destroy the Kurdish people. This is how this century-long global capitalist hegemony was formed. Global capitalism and its hegemonic structure is definitely based on this. Therefore, Imrali concerns everyone, all of humanity. The Imrali system of torture, isolation and genocide harms everyone living in this world. Accordingly everyone benefits from the freedom struggle against this system. It is everyone’s struggle. We need to see and understand it like this. This is connected to the Kurdish genocide. The genocidal mentality and politics have been going on for a quarter of a century as the Imrali system of torture, isolation and genocide. The international conspiracy was an annihilating attack of this system. On October 9, 1998, they started this attack and on February 15, 1999, they turned the attack into the Imrali system.
The Kurdish genocide continues as the Imrali system of torture, isolation and genocide continues. It has been ruled by this system for a quarter of a century. It is important to see and understand this correctly. We need to see that this is a global attack. And it is necessary to see that this attack has been planned and executed as an international conspiracy for the last quarter of a century.
The February 15 conspiracy represents an all-out attack to carry out the Kurdish genocide. An attack of annihilation. The attack on the person of Rêber Apo is such an attack. It was an attack aimed at the destruction of Rêber Apo. On the basis, it was aimed to liquidate the PKK, and on the basis, it was aimed to bring the Kurdish genocide to a conclusion. On October 9, 1998, this was tried to be done in one day. When they failed, they brought the execution to the agenda as the February 15 conspiracy. It did not work. They brought the Imrali attack to the agenda. On the basis of this system, they have been continuing this attack with various plans for 25 years on the basis of what they call the ‘hostage and rotting policy’. Under the leadership of Rêber Apo, the Kurdish people and its international friends have been resisting this brutal attack. An attack that is an enemy of humanity, for 25 years. Now, with the upcoming of February 15, the 25th year is coming to an end. 25 years, a quarter of a century. That’s easy to say. Such a brutal attack is being carried out.
Those who built Imrali said “you die here 10 times a day”. When the issue of execution came up, they said “execution kills once, but on Imrali, there are ten deaths every day”. Rêber Apo answered to this, “There is no death here, there is killing.” He said, “This is the area where an extermination attack is being carried out.” For 25 years such an extermination attack has been carried out and Rêber Apo has been resisting it. What kind of resistance is this? What is the will, what is the belief, what is the consciousness, what is the claim, what is the resistance? We need to understand this well.
We have deficiencies in understanding the conspiracy, in understanding the Imrali system. We have weaknesses in developing correct, effective and successful methods of struggle against it. If a period of 25 years has passed, if so much time has been prolonged, it is due to this. But let us not forget, the international conspiratorial forces wanted to get results in a day. They failed. A day became a month, a year became twenty-five years. They attacked every day, every moment. All of these attacks were broken and frustrated. It is clearly seen in this way that the international conspiracy has been riddled with holes, how weak the conspiratorial attacks have been rendered and how they have been frustrated. But still the Imrali system continues. The conspiratorial attacks continue. The resistance against the conspiracy also continues on this basis. So the process is not over. Therefore, it is neither necessary to say that the conspiracy has not weakened, that the struggle against the conspiracy has not yielded results, has not developed or created gains, nor is it necessary to say that everything is already over, that it has come to an end. Not in both cases. The attacks continue to exist, and they still want to succeed. The resistance against it has repeatedly frustrated it, but the struggle still continues. The genocidal attacks against the Kurds continue.
This 25th anniversary is an important anniversary. On the 25th anniversary, the physical freedom of Rêber Apo had to be put on the agenda in legal terms. The ‘European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) and similar institutions have taken decisions in this direction. They were not implemented, the politics does not implement them. This is why these fabricated disciplinary penalties are given. They don’t even implement their own laws. Turkey does not. Europe also does not impose any sanctions on Turkey. So they are accomplices. They all continue this partnership.
Let the conspiratorial forces know this. Everything is open and public. Everyone knows what is going on. Therefore, it should not be assumed that no one understands. The world’s greatest injustice was committed against the Kurdish people on the basis of the attack on Rêber Apo. The US took part in it, as well as Britain, Israel and the European states did. From France to Germany, the states participated in it. Everyone knows who organized, developed and carried out this conspiracy.
They did this for some interests and gains. Now the crow they fed is scratching its own eye out. How far will this situation go, this injustice and lawlessness? They need a little conscience. They need to turn around and see the injustice and insult they have done against the Kurdish people and come to their senses. They should have some conscience. They need to end this situation, this process. They need to apologize to the Kurdish people. Otherwise, a process with heavy consequences for them will deepen. Everyone sees this.
And let me say this for our people and our international friends. It was a difficult process, the most difficult process in human history. Already before this latest genocidal attack, they crushed the Kurdish resistance with brutality, massacres and genocide. In [the north Kurdish regions of] Dersim [Turkish name Tunceli], Amed, Ararat, [the east Kurdish region of] Mahabad and Southern Kurdistan. This is all known to the public. We know how execution tables were set up, how revolutionary leaders were executed. We may not have achieved freedom, but we prevented extermination, we prevented execution. In the system of torture and isolation on Imrali, Rêber Apo has turned himself into the leader of all the oppressed and oppressed humanity. He is now showing the way to liberation. The Kurdish leadership has become the leadership of humanity, the leadership of peoples. With such a struggle. This is the greatest development in history. At the beginning, no one believed this would happen. They said it would be impossible. Because even in normal prisons resistance seem impossible to them. Looking at themselves, nothing could happen on Imrali. But Rêber Apo did what they said could not be done and achieved what they said could not be achieved.
We gave strength and support to this resistance as a movement and as a people. Such a great resistance took place on the basis of walking in the footsteps of Rêber Apo, following him and supporting him. It should be known that we have carried out the greatest resistance in history. As the movement and the people, we have carried out the most meaningful resistance in these 25 years. We carried out the resistance that achieved the greatest gains and developments. Nothing was wasted. The results of this will be more evident from now on. As Rêber Apo said himself, “All this is a preparation. Great results are about to come!” Now we are in the process of developing struggles that will bring about these great results.
In the 26th year, it is necessary to resist against the conspiracy in a bigger way, resist more widely and resist more effectively. We are entering it with our action and resistance campaign aiming for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo. In this 26th year, we must enlarge it, make it bigger and carry it to victory. Such a process will begin in February. Calls have already been published. On February 17th, it is said that millions will march in [the German city] Cologne. Kurdish women, intellectuals, Kurds living in Europe, Kurdish politicians are making calls. These are very important and meaningful. Of course, it will not only be in Europe; it will also be in North and South Kurdistan, as well as Rojava; in other words, in the four parts of Kurdistan and wherever there are Kurds. We will greet the 25th anniversary of February 15 with much more effective and widespread demonstrations in every field. We will turn the conspiracy, the ‘Kurdish genocide day’, the ‘black day of the Kurds’ into light by protesting with the most widespread and effective actions. This is how we should approach it and we should start such activism now.
We are coming up to February. From the beginning of February, we must struggle by saying that such a process of action has begun. We must stand up, we must take action. We must take our move to a new level and advance towards victory in the coming months.
Is there anything else that you would like to point out?
Today is the tenth anniversary of the declaration of self-administration in Rojava. I salute the tenth anniversary of the declaration of democratic autonomy in Rojava. I congratulate and salute everyone who has been making efforts for the implementation of Rêber Apo’s project of ‘Democratic Confederalism’, ‘Democratic Autonomy’ over the past ten years.
An important trial is being conducted; a historical process is taking place. First, we need to see this, Rojava and the democratic confederal project is the only hope for humanity. Young people, women, workers and laborers all over the world are turning in this direction, their hopes are here. They want to learn something from here and to find, see and win their future in the democratic nation project created here. This is very valuable, very meaningful. On this basis, I congratulate the peoples of North and East Syria for entering such a revolutionary process with great courage and sacrifice. I also believe that they will succeed.
The reactionaries are attacking to prevent this. Undoubtedly, the attacks will continue. Manipulating this reaction is the Turkish state and the AKP-MHP fascist dictatorship. We have always said this, and we must always say it. Everyone should know this well. This fascist dictatorship is hostile to everything. Enemy to the good, enemy to the beautiful, enemy to freedom, enemy to democracy, enemy to women, enemy to youth, enemy to Kurds, enemy to humanity, enemy to peoples. What did the bard say? “Enemies to you, enemies to me, enemies to thinking people. The homeland is the home of the people. My dear, they are enemies of the homeland.”
The AKP-MHP are enemies of a free homeland, enemies of free thought. That’s how we should see the power we’re up against. They are very uncomfortable with the democratic autonomous development, with the organization, the construction of democratic nation, the fraternal coexistence of Kurds, Turkmens, Arabs, Circassians, Assyrians, Assyrians, all peoples. AKP-MHP realize that this is a force that will destroy their fascist, monist dictatorship.
What if everyone in Turkey sees this, the peoples are trembling already, wondering how they will be held to account in 100 or maybe 200 years for the massacres that have been committed. It is that fear which drives these attacks. The AKP-MHP are enemies, and they are conducting despicable attacks. They use everything as an excuse to attack, and later they make the counterattacks of the guerrilla another excuse to attack more.
If they were brave, they would have fought back where they were hit. What do they want from the people in Rojava, from their wheat, lentils, hospitals, schools and homes? Did they attack the AKP-MHP? They have nothing to do with it. Purely Kurdish hostility, fascist, genocidal, colonialist mentality and politics do this. This is the case even if there are no actions being taken. We said this last time, and everyone confirmed it. This is the truth; the people are resisting, resistance is developing. The attitude is good, it will get better. It will be stronger; the people will retaliate more effectively.
The most important seed of this resistance is of course Afrin. We are experiencing the sixth anniversary of the occupation of Afrin. Since 20 January, 6 years ago, the most despicable attack in history was launched against Afrin. For 58 days, 60 days, the people and guerrillas of Afrin gave the greatest resistance in history against this despicable occupation, this was the resistance of honor. It was called the resistance of the century. Let us remember those days. Let us remember the reality of that great resistance.
In other words, it is the resistance in Afrin [Efrîn] that created Northern and Eastern Syria, Rojava Kurdistan. Yes, it was great in the fight against ISIS. It can never be denied, but the resistance in Afrin against AKP-MHP fascism, that is, against ISIS’s overlords, was the greatest yet. Everyone should know this.
Now this resistance has been going on for 6 years. The ‘Efrîn Liberation Forces’ (ELF) are really striking a blow against the invaders. They are narrow, but they are at the right place. They have the right attitude, are honorable, represent freedom and humanity. They represent the honor of Northern and Eastern Syria. They represent the honor of Kurdistan, the honor of humanity.
I congratulate them, I congratulate those resistances. They also announced their annual balance sheets. I hope they will develop much more. From Afrin to Serêkaniyê, they will increase the struggle to break the Turkish occupation. This is a work of struggle. The fighting force is the ELF. They have understood this principle well.
The women, youth and all libertarian forces of Northeast Syria are following in their footsteps. They represent that honor and want to lead it to success. I hope that they will take more revenge. They will ask for accountability, they will develop retaliatory actions, they will resist more. But no one will leave their homes. We said last time that the aim of all these attacks and threats is to scare, frighten and kidnap. No one should run away, no matter what. Either we live freely on these lands, or we live freely on these lands. There is no other way. There is no other place to go, there is no place to live. There is no other kind of freedom seeking attitude.
Our people of Rojava, the people of Northeast Syria have learned this truth well. They learned from Rêber Apo, they learned from the resistance for freedom. With great courage and sacrifice, they took up the struggle at a pioneering level. We believe they will continue this. By defeating all kinds of aggression, they will protect their honor and maintain their freedom. They will further develop their democratic governance and succeed. I salute them all and wish them success.