Karasu: The struggle for democratization form the basis for talks and negotiations

"The struggle for democratization and the development of an understanding of democracy form the basis for talks and negotiations," said Mustafa Karasu.

In the third part of this in-depth interview, Mustafa Karasu, a member of The KCK Executive Council, said that "The struggle for democratization and the development of an understanding of democracy form the basis for talks and negotiations." 

The first part of this interview can be read here and the second here

The Kurdish people and their friends in the struggle for democracy have again left their mark on the defeat of the AKP-MHP fascist alliance. All opposition circles are drawing attention to the role played by the DEM party. How should the attitude of the Kurdish people and their friends around the DEM party be understood?

Undoubtedly, it is the Kurdish basis of the DEM party, the basis of the democratic alliance that voted for the DEM party’s candidate in Kurdistan. They also voted for the DEM party in places where the DEM party barely had a chance of winning, such as the Akdeniz district of Mersin. In the center of Dersim, the DEM party candidates supported by the alliances won. In Kurdistan, the DEM party voters went to the polls in masses. The results are evident.

In this election, the DEM party was not in a general alliance or consensus in Turkey. But in very strategic areas of Turkey, it pursued a policy together with all democratic forces to make AKP-MHP fascism lose. This policy was called ‘urban consensus’. We should talk about the unification of all social forces that want democracy. Rather than speaking about one party candidate winning, it is necessary to see the fact that all social forces that want democracy came together and took a stance against AKP-MHP fascism. This is how the attitude of people should be read. This should be seen as an attitude of winning not for a party but for democracy and the forces of democracy. The CHP must also understand it in this way. These are votes for democracy and democratization. This is the people’s response to fascism.

AKP-MHP fascism has oppressed and polarized society to such an extent that it has united all opposition forces against itself. It has united all social forces demanding democracy, against itself. The DEM party’s policy towards the provinces of Turkey, was to stand with those who are radical and democratic within the system against AKP-MHP fascism. Just as it has been in a struggle against AKP-MHP fascism in Kurdistan, it has also maintained this attitude in the cities of Turkey. In the face of the fascist and anti-Kurdish occupying policy of the AKP-MHP government, DEM party members could not be expected to adopt any other attitude. In fact, in every place where the MHP nominated candidates, the people voted for the victory of CHP candidates on the basis of urban consensus, without hesitation. In places where the MHP fielded candidates, Kurds could not have been expected to adopt a different attitude.

Undoubtedly, in a very limited way, there were also some people who voted directly for DEM party candidates due to the wrong attitude of the opposition forces in 2023, because the DEM party did not withdraw its candidates anywhere. Thus, it did not leave those who wanted to vote differently in their own base without a choice; it prevented them from voting reactionarily or with the wrong tendency. This should be seen as support for the struggle for democracy. Because the votes given to the DEM party are also among the votes of the democratic front.

Everyone in Turkey should recognize the crucial role of the DEM party, that is, the Kurds and their allies, in the struggle for democracy and the collapse of the AKP-MHP government in the municipal elections. The attitudes against the AKP-MHP government can clearly be seen on the scoreboards. The provinces won by the CHP in Kurdish geography are in a position to stand against the AKP-MHP fascism and push it back. This is an objective fact revealed by the democratic attitude of the Kurdish people and the peoples of Turkey. The democratic forces in Turkey are voicing this fact.

It should be known that if there were a parliamentary election right now, everyone whether they are Kurd, Turk, Alevi, Sunni, women, and youth, would vote directly for the DEM party. In this respect, as Meral Daniş Beştaş said, the CHP should not see these votes as its own. This is what Özgür Özel stated in his first speech after winning the election. This is the right attitude. If this attitude of the DEM party’s base is not understood correctly, neither the correct policy nor the correct approach will emerge. Everyone knows that the DEM party’s base in Istanbul is around 10%. This is, of course, the common vote of Kurds, Alevis, democratic left forces, and women. At least 8% of these votes have become part of the forces demanding democracy in Istanbul. They played an important role in Imamoglu’s victory, which was stronger than in 2019.

The DEM party still holds its position as the third biggest party; evaluations claiming otherwise are superficial. Half of the votes received by the DEM party are in Kurdistan, half of them are in Turkey. Because the DEM party’s base in Turkey includes the votes of left-wing democratic forces, Alevis, including Turkish Alevis, women from different societies who vote for the DEM party’s line of women’s freedom, and other ethnic and religious communities, In this respect, DEM’s vote in Turkey is currently estimated to be around 11%. An assessment that DEM’s votes have fallen is a superficial evaluation. Those who want to say that DEM’s votes have fallen by looking only at the votes received in Kurdistan, leaving aside the votes in Turkey, or even those who want to make DEM look unsuccessful with ulterior motives, are only those who distort reality. DEM is the most successful party in this election. It is also the most successful party in strengthening the forces of democracy in Turkey and pushing back fascism. DEM is the third-biggest party in Turkey. Cheating and vote-stealing will not change this reality.

Everyone should see the role of the DEM party and its base in the struggle for democracy in Turkey. The right politics and the right struggle can only be done by recognizing this reality. The DEM party and its base do not want the forces that are in search for the democratization of Turkey to be mistaken.

Especially within the framework of the elections in the Turkish areas, DEM’s alliance with the peoples of Turkey, through its policy of urban consensus, has yielded an important result. The special warfare was launched with the collaboration of some Kurdish individuals against the HDP and the Green Left Party after the last election. Thus, they attacked the alliance and partnership between the Kurdish people, the peoples of Turkey, and the forces of democracy.

When we look at the success of the DEM party and the fact that the AKP-MHP fascism lost, can we say that those standing for “the policy of alliance makes the Kurds lose” are wrong?

The general policy of the HDP and the Green Left Party in the May 2023 elections was not wrong. Their intention and desire was to strengthen democracy against fascism. This is what was expected from the HDP. However, while implementing this policy, there were shortcomings and inadequacies in some tactics and methods. Some mistakes were made. Since the right policies, tactics, and methods were not put into practice, the desired results could not be obtained. More creative, gradual tactics and methods could have been applied to frustrate the policies of the fascist alliance. On the other hand, the unprincipled and undemocratic attitude of the opposition forces within the system, which made some democratic discourses against AKP-MHP fascism, was of course used by malicious circles. The revelation of the secret agreement between the ZP and Kiliçdaroglu created a justified reaction among the Kurdish people. Those with ulterior motives tried to use this to attack the policies of the HDP and the Green Left Party in this election. In fact, they did not aim to expose this mistake of the opposition forces within the system, but they targeted the DEM party, that is, the unity of struggle created with the forces of democracy in Turkey, in which Kurds have a position.

Again, attacks were made on the HDP because some deficiencies were seen by their base. It was said that Kurdish votes were being used to elect nominees who had no interest in the Kurdish cause. However, the HDP, as the party of the democratic forces of the Kurdish and Turkish people, had overcome the threshold. While in the past it used to have a maximum of 30-35 deputies, now it has a minimum of 60 deputies. In this respect, the statement that Kurdish votes are used to elect such deputies is also a distortion and demagogy. In fact, by lowering the threshold to 7%, the AKP-MHP fascism wanted to prevent its opposition from voting for the HDP so it would overcome the threshold. It did this even in places in Turkey where the HDP would usually not get any MPs, so that the HDP would not get votes from the anti-AKP base. Those who voted for HDP were people close to HDP’s ideas and principles. However, they lowered the threshold so that these votes would not be cast; thus, they calculated that it would reduce the HDP’s votes.

The attitude to be taken in the face of this situation, is for the HDP to work to win the votes of wider segments by embracing its own founding idea. In this respect, adhering to the founding idea of the HDP is very important for Kurdish democratic politics. This is not just a project to get 20–30 more deputies. This is a strategy to democratize Turkey. Kurds cannot develop their struggle for freedom and democracy with a few more deputies or with Kurdish deputies only. In order for democracy to develop in Turkey, on the basis of the solution to the Kurdish question, they must hold on to the idea of the HDP like a lifeline.

The Kurds will always win if the DEM party continues its policy to form an alliance with the democratic forces of Turkey. Saying, “What do we care about the democratic forces? What do we care about the democratization of Turkey? Let’s just take care of ourselves” is a lack of politics and a great loss for the Kurds. Kurds should not listen to such superficial and vulgar discourse.

The fact that the urban consensus of the DEM party has created hope for democracy in Turkey has once again demonstrated the correctness of the HDP’s ideas and principles. It should be known that the HDP tradition has never pursued a policy of winning for someone. The policies and tactics it has implemented have only been carried out to win for the forces of democracy and the Kurdish people. If approached in this way, a correct evaluation can be made.

Immediately after the elections, some people, the basis of special warfare, were saying that the Kurdish voter turnout in Kurdistan and the DEM party’s votes in Turkey had fallen. Considering the success of the DEM party, why do they voice such evaluations?

It is clear that Kurdish voter turnout has not fallen at all. Such a thing cannot be said for Kurdistan. However, it is certain that some AKP supporters in Kurdistan did not go to the polls. Some of the AKP Kurds are also disturbed by the state practices, trusteeship, and war policies in Kurdistan. Because the war is affecting them too. In this respect, the appointment of trustees – the rejected the will of the Kurds – also disturbed some Kurds who had previously voted for the AKP. They are disturbed by the AKP government’s constant war rhetoric. They start to realize that the war is a cause of poverty. On the other side, the DEM base in Kurdistan went to the polls in masses. For this reason, in many places, the DEM party won municipalities by clear margins compared to the past. In the Wan election, the DEM party was the only party in Turkey to win both the metropolitan city and the districts. This example of Wan shows that Kurds rushed to the polls. It is a lie and a distortion to say that the DEM base in Kurdistan did not go to the polls. The reality is the opposite.

In Turkey, the DEM party’s votes have not fallen. If there had been general elections, its votes would have far exceeded the 2023 general elections. The political revival among Kurds is clear evidence of this. The revival in Kurdistan directly affects the metropolises of Turkey. In this respect, while it is obvious that the Kurds cast their votes with the same intention as the democratic forces of Turkey due to the urban consensus, the statement that the DEM’s votes have fallen is a very simple demagogy. Even a child can see that this is not true. The AKP and some Kurdish collaborators are already in a race to find fault with DEM. They are ready to defame, whether their words are right or wrong does not matter to them. These are disinformation campaigns made by elements of special warfare and its collaborators on social media. The Kurdish people and democratic forces should not pay attention to them.

Despite all the oppression, persecution, arrests, deception, and deployment of disguised troops, the Kurds and their friends of struggle won a great victory in Kurdistan and crushed the AKP-MHP fascism in Kurdistan. What should be done to expand this electoral success? After the defeat in the 2019 local elections, the AKP-MHP government increased its attacks and launched an invasion attack on Rojava. The fascist chief Tayyip Erdogan said after the election that they “will not give in to terrorism.” What should be done against this?

The Kurdish people have won a great victory in Kurdistan. Given the repression, this victory is even more significant. Everyone should appreciate this. Especially Kurds should feel honored. Not only the people of North Kurdistan, but Kurds in Rojhilat, South Kurdistan, Rojava, Shengal [Sinjar], and all over the world should be honored and proud to see such a reality.

The Kurdish people, especially the youth and women, should take this success as a basis for stronger organization and struggle. They should experience the joy of this success and should celebrate. They deserve it. But still, we face a genocidal colonialist power. The Turkish state is not only colonialist; it is also genocidal. It is not enough to say it is only a colonizer.

Some may say that the AKP has been hit, and it may give up this policy. This means ignoring the reality of the Turkish state. If Turkey was only a colonizer, maybe it could change its policy in such a situation. Since it is genocidal and its existence depends on the destruction of the Kurdish people, unless a strong democratization develops and this genocidal mentality is overcome, no softening can be expected in the solution of the Kurdish question in Turkey. The solution to the Kurdish question will not come by with some talks and negotiations, unless fundamental democratization develops. The solution to the Kurdish question is not a matter of the will of one person or a group. To say that one person within the state can solve it means not understanding the reality of the Turkish state and the Kurdish policy it pursues. In short, such expressions are the result of a superficial and narrow political view.

The struggle for democratization and the development of an understanding of democracy form the basis for talks and negotiations. Otherwise, we would be mistaken if we said that the state would take steps in the face of political imbalances or this strain. We need to know very well the genocidal character of the Turkish state. The ‘law’ of this state is genocide. This can be overcome either through a fundamental breakthrough or by developing fundamental democratization. This is how a democratic solution can be realized.

In this respect, this success should not lead to complacency and should instead be the basis for strengthening the struggle against this enemy. Particularly young people and women should be more involved in the struggle. Every Kurd should be organized. Organizing is a democratic right and expression; this should be used well.

After the elections, Erdogan used the term ‘terroristan’ again and stated that they would attack. Erdogan sees not only Rojava but all of Kurdistan as a region of terrorism. Whoever claims the Kurdish will, whoever says they want to speak their mother tongue, their culture, their identity, and their own self-government, is seen as a terrorist. Erdogan said he would launch invasion attacks right after the election and that he would send young people to the war fronts. If the enemy prepares for new attacks, then it is necessary they be confronted.

Wherever the genocidal colonialist fascist Turkish state attacks, all Kurdish people must stand up. The attacks on Rojava, the attacks on South Kurdistan and the Medya Defense Zones, the attacks on Shengal – they are attacks on all Kurds. All Kurds in the four parts of Kurdistan and in the world must stand together against these attacks and stand up everywhere. In the spirit of the battle of Kobanê, Kurdish youth should come to wherever there is an attack and protect. Now the most attacked areas are the Medya Defense Zones, Rojava, and Shengal.

The attack on the political will of the Kurds that could be observed in Wan, should not be seen as an ordinary attack. This is an attack on the Kurdish people’s freedom struggle as a whole. All Kurds must show their attitude during such attacks. Not only Wan or the cities and towns are subjected to such attacks, but all Kurds must take to the streets and defend their democratic will in the face of these attacks. In this regard, we salute the people of Wan and the Kurdish people in other cities for taking to the squares and putting their struggle forward against this attack.

In the elections, the AKP and its fascist alliances suffered a heavy defeat in Turkey as it became the second party for the first time, while the opposition as a whole achieved a historic success. So, taking into account the June 7, 2015 elections, what course of action should the Turkish opposition take to ensure the complete defeat of the AKP-MHP fascist alliance?

Undoubtedly, the election results have given hope for the future of Turkish society. It provided a basis for the struggle for democratization. This election strengthened the alliance between the Kurdish people and the democratic forces of Turkey. It played an important role in the development of Turkey’s democratic unity on the basis of democratization and the solution of the Kurdish question. In fact, with this election, the Kurdish people and the democratic forces of Turkey have once again demonstrated that they do not have a problem of survival, as the AKP-MHP fascism claims. The will to ensure Turkey’s unity on the basis of democratization and the solution of the Kurdish question have been put forward against the AKP-MHP policies that are tearing Turkey apart and leading to division.

However, the latest successes do not automatically lead to the total defeat of the AKP-MHP fascist alliance. In the 2015 elections, the AKP government lost as well. But the forces of democracy and opposition forces, including the HDP, did not adopt the right attitude. They failed to utilize the AKP’s electoral defeat to oust it from power. Political tactics and moves that remove the legitimacy of the AKP, have not been made. They just followed the AKP’s agenda. After the June 7 elections, opposition forces failed to unite. But the AKP immediately set out to expand its own front.

The radical democratic forces in Turkey must organize faster and unite their forces immediately. The current disorganization must be overcome. The Labor and Freedom Alliance must be expanded much more. Because without the radical democratic forces leading the struggle for democracy, it is unthinkable that the opposition forces within the system will play much of a role in democratization. They may even squander the opportunities they have. When I listen to some opposition channels and the speakers who appear there, instead of expanding the forces of democracy and opening up to a wider spectrum, instead of the policy of narrowing the base of AKP-MHP fascism even further, there are approaches such as being content with the status quo and even continuing classical policies. Turkey was established as a republic in the 1920s. Under the conditions of that period, an authoritarian republic was formed. But now this republic needs democratization. If the opposition within the system does not act with this approach, the opportunities that have emerged can be squandered again.

The struggle for democracy and democratization is a question of alliance everywhere in the world. It is a mistake to think that only one party or group can bring about democracy in a large country like Turkey, where there are so many different communities. The radical revolutionary democratic forces and the opposition forces within the system should act with this consciousness. In fact, no political force or movement in Turkey that does not aim for the solution of the Kurdish question can struggle for democratization and develop democracy in Turkey. All discourses about democracy that do not aim for the democratic solution of the Kurdish question are deceptive and have no meaning other than self-deception. As a result of such discourses, Turkey will just continue to be trapped in the 100-year-long grip of authoritarianism.

In any other country in the world, after such an election, the current government would be called to resign and a general election should be held. This is a democratic tradition. All democratic forces should call on this government to resign. This government has lost its social base and legitimacy with this election. Remaining in power means a usurpation of authority. Without taking this stance, the forces of democracy cannot develop an appropriate struggle for democracy. This government will want to continue its rule by using state means and new games and conspiracies. It will resort to every means to change the tendency towards democracy in society. From this point of view, the struggle against the government must be sustained, and it must be forced to resign.

In order for the struggle for democracy to truly develop in Turkey, those who say that they are democratic must demonstrate this with their stances. The will of the Kurdish people has been usurped. In this respect, all democratic forces, including the opposition forces within the system, intellectuals, writers, artists, and all ethnic and faith communities, must take a common stance against this hostility to democracy. The Kurds and forces that voted for democracy in Turkey and played their role in bringing down AKP-MHP fascism expect this. The first reactions were already positive. The continuation of these approaches is important for the unity and common struggle of the democratic forces. Such an attitude is an attitude that must be shown, not only for Kurds but for democracy in all of Turkey.