Karasu: Support for Leader Öcalan comes from all over the world



Mustafa Karasu, member of the KCK Executive Council, spoke about the importance of 1 May, International Workers' Day as well as the significance of the month of May for the Kurdistan liberation movement. 

Let us first start with the situation of the Kurdish people’s leader, Abdullah Öcalan. What can you tell us about the latest developments regarding his situation and the struggle for his physical freedom? How do you assess the role of international institutions, especially European ones?

Rêber Apo [Abdullah Öcalan] has been kept under solitary confinement for more than nine years now. Other than the one or two brief, very restricted interactions in between, the past nine years have been a course of total isolation. In actuality, the Imrali system - which has been in place for 25 years now - is a system of aggravated solitary confinement. There was a period in which the Turkish state created the impression that it was open to negotiations with Rêber Apo, but it soon became clear that the Turkish state had no such intent.

Those who carry the responsibility for the severity of the isolation being imposed on Rêber Apo is Europe, particularly the ‘European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR), the ‘Council of Europe’ (CoE), and the ‘European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment’ (CPT). It was they who established this order, in coordination with the USA and Turkey. Again, it was Europe and the USA who carried out the international conspiracy and abducted Rêber Apo to Turkey. Turkey itself had made no effort to take Rêber Apo prisoner. If it were not for the attitude of the European Union or the approach of the United States, there was nothing Turkey could have done. Rêber Apo was lured into this trap by the members of the European Parliament and the Greek Parliament. He went to Greece and then to Italy with the idea that he could find a political solution in Europe, but Europe did not accept this. They have even bent their own laws to achieve this. The German state had issued a case against Rêber Apo, but even when he went to Europe, the German state did not prosecute him. Instead, they chose to be a part of the plan to conspiratorially and illegally abduct him and hand him over to Turkey. Rêber Apo’s request for political refugee status was rejected across Europe. Thousands of PKK sympathizers and supporters were granted political refugee rights in Europe, but not Rêber Apo. They did not grant status to Rêber Apo.

The US played a leading role in the abducting of Rêber Apo and handing him over to Turkey. It was, in fact, they who instructed Turkey to construct such a system of isolation. They wanted such an order to be established. In view of these facts, the European Union and the USA are directly responsible for this system of total isolation. They are responsible for the policies being developed on Imrali over these past 25 years.

Ömer Öcalan and his lawyers visited the CPT. After this meeting, the CPT was forced to release a press-statement, and they even gave a press conference. They used the pretext that they “cannot explain” unless Turkey gives its approval. This actually shows how much manipulation there is on the CPT. To avoid responsibility, they said “if there are cases of human rights violations in Imrali, the ECHR is responsible.”

The ECHR has based itself on state-interest. All their notions and tenets of human rights, law, and justice come to an end when they cross the ECHR’s political interests. Especially when it comes to the Kurdish question, the only approach of the ECHR is based on political interests. There was once a European writer and journalist who wrote a book called “Kurds without Lawyers.” What they mean is that the Kurds are defenseless. In this sense, it is important to increase public pressure. A legal struggle can and should be waged against the CPT, but in order to get results, we need to pressure them to take responsibility for Rêber Apo.

The global freedom campaign aiming for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo needs to be raised to a new level. If this is done, then we will achieve results. Otherwise, it is not enough to just make calls and tell people what to do. We need to create public pressure with our struggle and our stance in a way that will force the ECHR and the CPT to take steps. If their practices and their mentality are exposed, if this reaches a point where they question their own reason for being, then of course their attitude will have to change. We need to develop the campaign for the freedom of Rêber Apo.

Rêber Apo is being embraced all across the globe, and this will grow even more. We need to believe in this and develop it even further. In particular, women will embrace Rêber Apo even more because they understand this reality. With his thought, philosophy, theory, and approach, Rêber Apo reveals the real history of women, reveals the true stance of struggle, reveals the line of women’s freedom, and fully exposes the male-dominated system. In this respect, women will embrace Rêber Apo even more.

While Rêber Apo is being embraced so strongly by women across the world, it is impossible that he is kept in prison forever. With the struggle of women it is possible to break the pressures and chains being imposed on Rêber Apo. Undoubtedly, all humanity embraces this struggle, but it is particularly women who take a leading role because they have not been contaminated by sovereignty or power. Since they have been the main force that has been exploited and oppressed, they are more conscientious, more just, and fairer. This support of the struggle will envelop all of humanity. Then the CPT will definitely be forced to take the correct stance and the ECHR will also play or remember its role. Rêber Apo will be liberated through such a struggle.

In this respect, all democratic forces and peoples, especially Kurds, must embrace Rêber Apo. Embracing Rêber Apo is not only the task of the Kurdish people, it is the task of the democratic forces, of all humanity. Because he is a leader that serves all of humanity through his thoughts, efforts for the freedom of all, for democratic life. He demonstrates this with his approach to life and his attitude. We believe that Rêber Apo will be embraced even more and that he will be liberated.

April is now slowly coming to an end, and we are moving into May, which is a very important month for socialist movements in general, but especially for your movement. Why is that so?

Particularly because of Haki Karer, May is the month of martyrs for us. Also, other very valuable friends and comrades gave their lives within this month. On May 2nd, there were the martyrdoms of Mehmet Karasungur and Ibrahim Bilgin. On May 6th, there were the executions of Deniz Gezmis, Huseyin Inan and Yusuf Aslan. On May 9th, four revolutionaries were executed by Iran. May 11th marks the martyrdom of comrade Mizgîn. On May 14th, the martyrdom of Leyla Qasim and her friends. On May 17th there was the martyrdom of ‘The Four’: Ferhat Kurtay, Eşref Aynet, Mahmut Zengin and Necmi Öner. On May 18th, the martyrdom of Haki Karer and Ibrahim Kaypakkaya. On May 27th, there was the martyrdom of Kasim Engin. On May 31, there was the martyrdom of Sinan Cemgil and his friends. There is also the martyrdom of comrade Deniz from Dogubayazit, who was martyred on May 21. I commemorate all these friends and all revolutionary martyrs with gratitude and respect.

Our struggle has constantly developed because of the martyrs who gave their lives. It was our martyrs who paved the way for this struggle. Because the struggle is carried out under very difficult conditions, it can only be developed through sacrifice, by putting one’s own life on the line. Just like this, all kinds of obstacles can be overcome. The martyrs have a very important place in the freedom struggle. They are the pioneers. They are not just some people who lost their lives in a war. Against very harsh, genocidal colonialism, in an area like the Middle East, they developed the Kurdish people’s struggle for freedom by putting their lives on the line. The martyrdom in the Kurdish people’s struggle for freedom must be understood and valued correctly.

We need to remember very well the ideological, political, ethical, moral, and conscientious aspects and the passion for freedom in the martyrs. If the month of martyrs is remembered in this way, then we really give meaning to the martyrs. In fact, if we understand the martyrs, it will be possible for us to conduct a great struggle. The comrades who understand our martyrs, our organizational structure, our organization as a whole, and our people as a whole will wage a great struggle and overcome all obstacles.

Our struggle is unprecedented in the world. Of course, there have been sacrificial struggles in other countries, but our struggle is constantly sustained in this way. We are not conducting just some basic struggle. We are waging a struggle based entirely on sacrifice, and this is very conscious. Progress was always made when there was sacrifice. It paves the way for our struggle. In this respect, Rêber Apo said, “The PKK is the party of martyrs.” It is like this because the PKK grows with its martyrs. Without our martyrs and without the struggle of the martyrs, our struggle would not have developed. In this regard, I would like to once again commemorate all our martyrs with gratitude and respect.

Now that May 1st is approaching, what can you tell us on the occasion of this important day?

May 1st is a really important day. It is probably the only day celebrated unilaterally by all people at the same time. It is an important day of common struggle, a day of united celebration, a day that carries the common values of humanity. While evaluating May 1st, we need to understand the value it carries for humanity.

May 1st was recognized as a holiday, a day of struggle, by the Second International in 1889. It has been celebrated all over the world ever since. The struggle behind it must be pointed out. The resistance of the workers started in 1886, for 8-hour workdays. Then in 1877, events grew. After this period of resistance, 4 of their leaders were executed. May 1st is based on the resistance of those who got executed on this day.

After that day, workers succeeded in getting the 8-hour working day. And it became a day of struggle against exploitation and oppression. It has been celebrated since 1899. From that day until today, including in Turkey, there have been great struggles and high prices have been paid on May 1st all over the world. Every year, working people are increasingly struggling for liberation from capitalist modernity, from exploitation, and oppression. With each year, the passion for freedom, independence, and the struggle against exploitation has increased. In addition to being the struggle of all workers and laborers, it has evolved into the struggle for rights, justice, and equality. Thus, this struggle was assigned as a duty to all societies, against oppression and tyranny.

In Turkey, May 1st has always been celebrated with such a spirit of struggle. The Turkish state once tried to turn it into some kind of spring festival, but of course the people didn’t accept this. Eventually, May 1st became the day of workers and laborers.

The slaughter of 34 laborers and workers in Turkey on May 1, 1977, took place right in front of my eyes. At the time of the attacks, we were directly beneath the Taksim statue. We carried the wounded and the dead in taxis and small vans and sent them to hospitals. After that, May 1st was banned in Turkey, but despite this, there were various forms of resistance even after the military coup on September 12. Like I pointed out, May 1st in Turkey has always been a day of struggle.

This day should be regarded as a festive day of socialism. It is a day to struggle for socialism against the individualism and exploitation of capitalism. It is a day when the struggle to achieve socialism, and the utopia of this, is expressed. It should be understood in this way. 125 years of struggle have turned May 1st into a day of such meaning. Of course, it is necessary to spread and deepen the understanding of socialism in society and to approach it with a stance that further develops this consciousness, the program, and the struggle for it.

May 1st is a day to discuss how the struggle for democratic socialism will be waged against capitalism and how socialism will be achieved. It should also be seen as a day on which the aspiration, determination, program, and ideological-theoretical line of socialism are put forward in the right way. In this respect, May 1st should be understood not only as a day of solidarity, not only as a day to take to the streets and chant slogans, but also as a day to renew consciousness, eliminate deficiencies, and develop the right understanding of struggle.

This is how we understand this day. Of course, from our point of view, we also see May 1st as a day of common struggle between the Kurdish people and the peoples of Turkey. Indeed, revolutionaries, democrats, and socialists in Turkey have always longed for this. They have always understood the need to develop the common struggle of the Kurdish and Turkish peoples.

The democratic forces and laborers in Turkey were crushed and silenced by the fascism that followed the military coup on September 12, 1980. In fact, when the AKP was brought to power to complete that which had been initiated on September 12, it paved the way for these Fethullahists, these political Islamists. They did this in order to bring political Islamists and the state together, to suppress the Kurdish freedom movement and the struggle of the Kurdish people, to isolate the Kurds, and to crush the left. Through our struggle, September 12 was interrupted to a certain extent. Now with Erdoğan, they want to achieve what they could not do in the last decades.

When Rêber Apo evaluated this, he said that the current politics were a continuation of September 12, but its methods had been adapted to liberal conditions. This is how Rêber Apo evaluates the process in his prison writings. In practice, this has proved to be true.

When we look back, we see that Newroz and the March 8th events were strongly participated by the people, who also took an important stance in the municipal elections. This May 1st, we need to raise the struggle even more. It is necessary to break the environment of oppression and exploitation which had been intensified since September 12. We must strengthen the struggle for freedom and democracy in Turkey. Such a new process is needed.

This May 1st should be seen as the beginning of a period in which all the remnants of September 12 are wiped clean. On this basis, the Kurdish people, the people of Turkey, laborers and women ought to raise their struggle for freedom and democracy. I call on all Kurdish people to take to the streets on May 1st and to raise the struggle together with the peoples of Turkey, laborers, workers and particularly the women.