Karasu: Kurdish women are at the vanguard of a revolution to change society

Karasu said that "Kurdish women are currently at the vanguard of a revolution that changes not only Kurdish society but also the world with the ‘Jin Jiyan Azadi’ philosophy."

In the second part of this in-depth interview, Mustafa Karasu, a member of The KCK Executive Council, spoke about the mark left by women in the past local elections and in the struggle.

The first part of this interview can be read here

Women also made their mark on this election. Despite all kinds of attacks, women took an important lead in the election work and had the biggest share in the success achieved. How do you evaluate this?

When talking about the political struggle in Kurdistan, any view that does not evaluate the role and influence of women is incomplete. Every revolutionary and democrat must recognize this fact. Those who do not see the great role of women in the democratic and freedom-oriented development of Kurdistan, in political achievements, and in the change of life cannot make any ideological, social, or political evaluation correctly.

By advancing the paradigm of women’s freedom, Rêber Apo [Abdullah Öcalan] put forward the system of co-presidency and equal representation. He pushed the political field to make a revolutionary initiative. This created great excitement and enthusiasm among women, who are the catalysts of society and determine the character of society. The democratic revolution in Kurdistan has reached a new dimension. We should look at this as making the democratic revolution invincible and as infusing the democratic revolution with the elixir of invincibility. In fact, Rêber Apo’s paradigm of women’s freedom is not only a paradigm based on the equality of men and women. It is a paradigm that shapes the whole society in the line and morality of women’s freedom. It is a line that will clean the whole society from its dirt and make it clean in conscience and morality. Rêber Apo has shown that the paradigm of women’s freedom will create such a society by evaluating historical society.

Kurdish women are currently at the vanguard of a revolution that changes not only Kurdish society but also the world with the ‘Jin Jiyan Azadi’ philosophy. With this revolutionary initiative, Kurdish women have become the honor and pride of the Kurdish people. All Kurds should feel great enthusiasm and joy from this honor created by Kurdish women.

Kurdish women reached this level as a result of a great struggle. Rêber Apo’s struggle for freedom in Kurdistan has brought women to this point. The system of co-presidency is the most concise product of this great struggle. Those who do not understand and see this, do not understand the Kurdish people’s struggle for freedom.

There is a story about Kurdish women’s struggle for freedom that I often tell. In the 1980s, families would come to visit us in prison. Mostly, families from Batman would travel to Amed prison on what they called the ‘yogurt trains’.

One of these families was Mother Hanim and Father Ahmet, the parents of comrade Ercan Kavak. Two of their sons were in prison, while another one was sentenced. This last son later joined the guerrilla and is now a martyr. No matter which prison we were exiled to, they would follow us. One day in an open meeting, the mother said to us, "My son, this uncle Ahmet of yours used to kick me if I dared to stick my head out of the door, even if it was just a little bit. He wouldn’t want me to leave the house. Now, as your mother, as the mother of the Apoists, I go everywhere, be it Amed, Urfa, Ceyhan, or Ankara. Now it is your uncle Ahmet who sits at home, but I go everywhere to support the struggle."

The impact that the Apoists’ struggle in Batman had on society made our mothers embrace their sons and the cause of their sons, and they liberated themselves through this struggle.

Again, our sisters and young Kurdish girls were born into this world of struggle, and they took up the struggle everywhere without hesitation. They sacrificed themselves during Newroz, the symbol of the Kurdish people’s struggle for existence. It is necessary to see this reality and these facts well when we discuss and evaluate the impact of women on today’s political struggle.

Any Kurd who follows the system of co-presidency is an honorable Kurd, a free and democratic Kurd. If one of the candidates for the co-presidency is a man, he must feel honored. There cannot be a more honorable, free and democratic stance. The men who understand co-presidency correctly, will feel more rewarded than the women. Rêber Apo gave this award and honor. As a matter of fact, Kurdish society chants the slogan "Jin Jiyan Azadî" in the squares because they see this reality revealed by Rêber Apo. This is the essence and basic slogan of the Kurdish revolution. Because it is this philosophy that ensures freedom, democracy, autonomy and self-governance of Kurds with their own identity, culture and will.

Co-presidency does not mean that one co-chair is superior to the other. They are equal, they make all decisions together democratically. One is not superior to the other. In this respect, saying who will be the official co-chair and making this an agenda means crippling and denying this understanding of co-presidency. It means seeing officialdom as an advantage, even as a power of authority. This would be to misunderstand co-presidency, to cripple its essence. In this respect, such discussions are a philosophical fallacy. Those who accept co-presidency cannot and should not participate in such a debate. Yes, there is an obligation to make an official declaration, though, the official declaration of someone is only a formality. It is not and cannot be an issue that concerns the Kurds and the co-chairs.

However, because the system obligates that one person is named as president, and considering the heights reached and successes gained by the “Jin Jiyan Azadî” revolution, it is only just to name women as official candidates. This is what befits the Kurdish people and the revolution they have realized. Perhaps, in very special and exceptional cases, a male candidate can be named. All male co-chairs should demand that women become official co-chairs, as a necessity of achieving the honor of co-presidency. This is the correct philosophical view, political view, democratic and libertarian view. This is not about making someone superior and authorized. It is about the representation of democratic and libertarian thought, about making this the soul of our revolution. This is what will elevate all patriotic men.

We, too, have suffered for years in fully grasping the paradigm of women’s freedom and fulfilling its requirements. We still cannot claim that we have fully grasped it, but we are trying to change ourselves through an internal struggle. Rêber Apo has constantly educated us and made us understand the line of women’s freedom and about the struggle to kill and uproot the masculinity that has historically settled in us. Of course, from the very beginning we were saying that there would be no revolution without women. We were excited about women’s participation in the revolution, but there was also a misconception that after the revolution took place, everything would return to its previous form. Rêber Apo saved us from our misconceptions. From this point of view, all Kurdish people, especially male patriots, should correctly understand Rêber Apo’s historical, sacred work and revolution and glorify it by transforming themselves.

The reason why we have stated that the official preference in the co-presidency is in favor of women is to make this aspect of our revolution visible and effective all over the world in the future. Because this revolutionary democratic aspect now affects the whole world, especially Turkey and the Middle East.

The AKP-MHP fascism wanted to fully institutionalize the fascist one-man regime it established by ensuring its dominance in metropolitan cities, especially Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Çukurova. However, the peoples of Turkey put a stop to this fascist plan with their support for the opposition. How should the picture that emerged in Turkey be evaluated?

The AKP-MHP fascism’s aim to turn Turkey into a fully institutionalized fascist country by dominating all metropolitan municipalities was dealt a heavy blow in the local elections. We were always emphasizing that the AKP-MHP fascist government was in a state of collapse and dissolution. We were saying that the AKP-MHP government, which wanted to destroy the Kurdish people, had collapsed. We were not stating this for propaganda. We were stating this because we were following the war against us and its results. It has once again become clear how true our evaluations are.

It was the fascist character and hostility toward democracy that led the AKP-MHP fascism in Turkey to such a collapse. All this is based on Kurdish enmity, which has brought this government to the present situation of collapsing. The enmity against democracy is the source of the moral, political, conscientious, and cultural collapse that is experienced in society. It is a genocidal war against the Kurds.

Also, the economic collapse played an essential role in the election loss. It is the war against the Kurdish people that created the economic crisis; it is this dirty war. All the resources of Turkey are abused for this war. Wasn’t it Erdoğan himself who screamed at the people, “Don’t you know the price of one single bullet?” when the people gradually started to raise their voices because of the economic problems? He openly said that a crucial cause of the economic problem was the expenditures allocated to the war. He was repeating every day that the state budget was mainly allocated for war, pointing out that they were building this many military vehicles, making this kind of military investment. This is what happens when, instead of solving Turkey’s political problems through democracy, the government turns to war and compulsion. There are presidential special funds, as well as special funds allocated to MIT, as well as funds allocated for spying and funds allocated to the gangs that Turkey feeds. There is no mechanism to monitor these. There is no publicly available overview of where these funds go and who coordinates them. All of these are the triggers of economic problems, and this had an impact on the election. It is not the lack of resources that creates this economic distress. It is mainly political reasons that caused the economic collapse. It is the lack of democracy based on Kurdish hostility that the war policies pursued.

The AKP-MHP government has put Turkey into a multifaceted crisis. The core of it is the crisis of society. In order to crush the Kurdish people’s struggle for freedom, it has both been hostile to democracy and polarized society to an unprecedented level. The government has declared everyone except AKP-MHP supporters and allies, as traitors. It has turned Turkey into a country of political civil war and has created a polarization that has not only the potential to destroy themselves but the whole of Turkey. In this situation, neighbors have become enemies of each other. Society has thus been traumatized. This is unprecedented not only in Turkey but also in the world. In this way, not only an unscrupulous, unjust, and immoral political environment has been created, but also a social life of this color.

Conscience is one of the most basic human characteristics. This requires a basic approach to social values and justice. In the AKP-MHP government, not only is there not a shred of conscience left, but it has also tended to shape society in this way.

This situation has gradually increased the discontentment in society against the AKP-MHP government. Because this policy is not just a short-term practice; it has become its fundamental policy. This has gradually disturbed those parts of society that, until now, had voted for the AKP. Societies, regardless of their beliefs and cultures, cannot endure such a polarizing life for a long time. The AKP-MHP government, which dragged society into a civil war, is now starting to pay the price for this. Political powers and those with vested interests may be constantly unscrupulous and unjust, but society cannot be like that. In the end, the demand for conscience, morality, and justice within society rebels against this. This is the reason why many AKP voters did not go to the polls in this election. The AKP-MHP has put a straitjacket on society.

The current multiple crises are the consequences of the policies of this government. From politics to society, culture, art, the press, sports, and the economy, there is no area that is not in a deep crisis. Turkey has become a country of general social crises and multi-level crises, while at the same time special warfare is constantly being waged by the government. The people’s attitude in the municipal elections should be seen as an objection to this reality. Otherwise, an approach that ignores Turkey’s reality and the root of its issues would mislead one to believe that the increasing prices of potatoes and onions is what drove the AKP-MHP administration to this point. This, in turn, distorts the search for solutions to problems. Due to misconceptions, the search for the underlying truth of problems is not undertaken. This leads to the prolongation of the lives of fascist governments like the AKP-MHP.

The AKP-MHP has indeed become a power of organized evil. It is a power that violates even the essentially fascist and undemocratic constitutions and laws of Turkey. Even the existing constitution and laws are not enough for their authoritarian, fascist character. For this reason, if they had the power, they would make an even more authoritarian, fascist, and genocidal constitution that would form the basis for genocide against all different ethnic and religious identities. They would completely legalize this authoritarian system that oppresses society, especially women and laborers. The peoples of Turkey put a stop to the creation of such a country.

Turkey has been under an authoritarian system for 100 years now. In this century, it has also been a country where an intense struggle for democracy has been waged. From the very beginning, Kurds objected to this system which ignored them. Therefore, they were subjected to oppression, persecution, and genocide. However, the desire to live freely with their own identity, history, and culture continued. Although the genocidal policy of the Turkish state has been put into practice very widely and effectively, it could not completely eradicate Kurdish existence.

Also, socialist forces waged a great struggle against this state. In the history of Turkey until the 1970s, socialists were imprisoned mainly for political reasons. Despite their ideological and political inadequacies, they played an important role in the struggle for democracy and freedom. In the 1960s and 1970s, the struggle for democracy by the socialist forces had reached a level that should not be underestimated. The organization, influence, and power of the left in the 1970s are well known. These leftist forces also took a stance on the Kurdish question, advocating federation and autonomy in addition to a separate state. In short, I cannot mention them one by one right now, but there have been many socialist movements in Turkey that have taken part in the struggle for democracy, and they have paid a high price for this cause. This struggle has played a significant role in the development of the idea of democraticizing Turkey. Important political transformations in Turkey’s history have always been attempted by those who demand democracy. Or this is how they have been able to influence society and gain its support. The wind created by the Democrat Party in 1950, the wind created by Ecevit’s CHP in the 1970s, the support of Özal’s party after 1980, and the AKP’s coming to power in 2002 talking about democracy are the results of the impact of the struggle for democracy in Turkey, on society. It would be incorrect to not recognize this historical reality when evaluating the objection that is currently emerging in society against the AKP-MHP government.

As a matter of fact, throughout the history of the republic, there has been a longing for democratization among the pious segments of the Islamic faith against the modernist approaches of political parties. They have expressed their desire to live their beliefs freely in a democracy. And the AKP has used this desire of the people for its own interests to increase its own political power. The historical inadequacy of political Islam in the struggle for democracy has resulted in the AKP government’s hostility to democracy after gaining a certain benefit at the beginning. Today’s democratic forces need to recognize this reality and draw the pious people who yearn for democracy into the struggle for democracy. Because there is also a serious and important search for conscience, morality, and justice in non-powerist social religious beliefs. The AKP government is hostile to these values.

Undoubtedly, the struggle for democracy among the Kurdish people, especially for the last 50 years, has brought about radical changes in society. Their insistence on the struggle for democracy and freedom in the face of the most severe oppression has played an important role in keeping the spirit of democracy in Turkey alive. In this respect, the struggle of the Kurdish people has become the most fundamental democratic dynamism in Turkey. In the struggle against AKP-MHP fascism in Turkey, the role of the Kurdish people’s struggle for democracy, which is carried out in unity with the democratic forces of Turkey, is very important. To stress this point out, the level of democratic consciousness and freedom that the Kurdish society has reached is the motor of the struggle for democracy in the whole of Turkey. It affects not only the radical democratic forces and socialists, but also the opposition forces within the system that are disturbed by the AKP-MHP fascism.

Another point must also be emphasized. Due to the struggle and influence of all democratic forces, especially the Kurds, the AKP-MHP government lost its influence in the cities that determine the political, economic, social, and cultural direction of the country. It is very important that in these places, society expresses its desire for democracy and freedom against AKP-MHP fascism. Considering that many Kurds live in these places, it can be understood how important the common stance of Kurds and the people of Turkey is to the democratization of the country. Whether the opposition within the system correctly evaluates this is another matter. However, it is clear that society in Turkey is in search of democracy. This is a fundamental factor that enables Turkey to look to the future with hope. It is the result of those who have been struggling for democracy and freedom for a hundred years.

It is also important to note that the change of leadership in the CHP after the May 2023 elections has created a new dynamism in the basis of the CHP. Such results often occur when failed administrations change. Undoubtedly, this was not the decisive factor, but it must be recognized as a factor.