Karayilan: The strategy of annihilation against the Kurds has failed

“As long as nation-state systems exist, it will not be possible to develop, let alone preserve, the equations between the poles of order, equality, freedom and fair sharing,” said Murat Karayılan.

In the second part of the in-depth interview with ANF, the commander-in-chief of the Central Headquarters of the People's Defence Forces (HSM), Murat Karayilan, comments on the isolation of the Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan on the prison island of Imrali and why this practice of the Turkish state as a ruling technique has no chance of being applied to all areas of society.

The isolation of Abdullah Öcalan on the prison island of Imrali continues in an intensified form. Many sides regard the isolation system there as a fixed pattern of behaviour that determines policy and attempts to subjugate society as a whole. Meanwhile, the international campaign for Abdullah Öcalan's freedom and a political solution to the Kurdish question is gaining momentum. What can you say about the isolation policy and the resistance to it?

Imrali is the coordination centre of the genocidal war in Kurdistan. An unprecedented torture regime is being implemented there, based on the unlawful actions not only of the Turkish judiciary but also of the international legal system. In times of an unprecedented variety of means of communication, there is total radio silence on the island. This absolute isolation and the accompanying psychological torture form the basis for the policy of genocide. With this practice, the state wants to break the hopes of the Kurdish people, make them forget Leader Apo, isolate him from society and the world, exert pressure on the people and impose a total war of annihilation on the guerrillas in order to make Leader Apo ultimately step back. The ruling power bloc insists on isolation as a concept of annihilation and wants to emerge victorious from the war in this way. However, the attitude that Leader Apo has shown to this day, with great strength, patience and intransigence, and the resistance that he and his fellow prisoners show against the practice of isolation, render the extermination strategy completely ineffective.

They want to make Leader Apo lonely through isolation. They want to separate him from society and the world. But the power of Leader Apo has brought down the walls of Imrali and is not only working in Kurdistan and the Middle East, but is unfolding all over the world. Öcalan has long since ceased to be seen only as a leader of the Kurdish people. Arab nations, the Assyrian-Syriacs and other oppressed peoples also identify with Leader Apo and his ideas. This reality of being the leader of democratic modernity in the resistance against capitalist modernity has emerged especially in the current phase. We have seen that the campaign for the freedom of Leader Apo and the solution of the Kurdish question has been launched simultaneously in over a hundred places around the world with the support of international organisations and individuals. This is a clear sign that his thoughts have spread beyond the borders of Kurdistan to the whole world and that his person is of universal importance. Leader Apo is a philosopher of the present. The isolation of the colonialist regime has not been able to prevent this. This is a fact that cannot be denied.

The so-called isolation policy in Imrali is basically a policy that tramples on democratic values and forms the framework for the establishment of a fascist regime in Turkey. It is not possible for democracy to take root in Turkey without the isolation being lifted. In other words, not only we, but also many other intellectuals, artists, scientific publishers - people who recognise the realities - realise that the Imrali system does not only mean the isolation of Leader Apo, but in reality puts the entire Kurdish people and also democracy in Turkey in the grip of separation. This is also emphasised by an appeal by 564 personalities from the art and cultural scene in Turkey, who are calling for negotiations on a solution to the Kurdish question. To summarise, even the most barbaric methods of AKP/MHP fascism against Leader Apo and the regime's policy of trampling on the law have not borne fruit to date.

The Turkish state has recently intensified its attacks against the Kurdish people, its oppression and its campaign of political annihilation, which have been going on for years. The Kurds' resistance to the attempt to break their will is strong. Can the Turkish state achieve anything with these actions?

The concept of direct attacks on the Kurdish people has always been a field of action for Turkey's fascist regime to achieve effective results. Liquidating the Kurds' struggle for democracy and their national consciousness is a top priority. Over the years, the forms of extermination have been systematised and have alternated between different methods. Sometimes it is massacres, sometimes multi-faceted means of repression, sometimes torture, which are used to destroy Kurdish democratic politics, but also Turkish forces from the left and socialist spectrum. We only have to remember that co-mayors, members of parliament and party leaders have been arrested without any legal basis. Many of them are still behind bars today. This system is enforced with the policy of trustee administration. It is a coup mentality that is directed against the will of the people. But even this methodology fails and has the opposite effect as soon as it meets the Kurdish people. A concrete example of the fact that no one can be persuaded by this state to take even one step backwards is the so-called Kobanê process. Kurdish political actors and activists, women, mothers and the youth put up an undeniably strong resistance. They know only too well how to deal with any kind of repression and how to stand up to it - and how to make the state the loser.

If I summarise all these points briefly, I can say that the failure of the strategy of annihilation has become clear in the historically significant attitude of Leader Apo, the self-sacrificing resistance of our movement and the guerrillas of Kurdistan, in the selfless commitment of the democratic institutions of our people and in the action of our forces in Ankara. It is not possible for this policy of genocide in Kurdistan to produce results. The AKP/MHP regime has used all its power. But the reality of the will to resist is obvious. There is only one way, and that is to abandon this genocidal policy.

Although the ideology and demands of your movement are clearly defined, the special war press continues to categorise you as separatists who wanted to establish an independent state but were ultimately prevented from doing so. Why do they resort to this kind of propaganda? What is it all about?

We are a movement with an ideology and philosophy that clearly distinguishes itself from the state and seeks to overcome this system. For as long as nation-state systems exist, it will not be possible to develop, let alone preserve, the equations between the poles of order, equality, freedom and fair sharing. We defend a model in which people turn against the state across classes as a strategy for overcoming capitalism. Nevertheless, this regime is using all of Turkey's energy in the war against our movement and our people by creating an atmosphere with false scenarios of "independent Kurdistan" and the so-called question of existence that this poses for the Turkish state. The regime makes no secret of its aim to regain control of the borders of the Misak-ı Millî [National Pact]. The Kurds are an obstacle to this goal, which is why they are wanted to be made weak-willed and preferably subjected to genocide.

This pact marked the common borders of Turks and Kurds. However, the ruling fascist mentality wants to claim the Misak-ı Millî as the only one, i.e. free of Kurds. In this way, it wants to grow. But there will be no such growth. This state is not even able to look at the past and learn from it. A look at history shows that the Turkic states have not been able to maintain their power without the Kurds since the Seljuks. Even the settlement in Anatolia was achieved with Kurdish support. They celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of Malazgirt in 1071, but they celebrate it in a distorted way. They ignore the role that the Kurds played there.

At the time, Leader Apo had revealed that Turkey could become a beacon of democracy in the entire Middle East region on the basis of a Kurdish-Turkish alliance and would play a pioneering role. He had made great efforts to achieve this, as his declarations and statements showed. If the AKP had listened to him, Turkey would not be in the position it is in now. The people would not be writhing with hunger, on the contrary. A high level of prosperity and democratisation would have been achieved. But this fascist mentality ignored Leader Apo's words. They thought they could achieve results by force, by pushing him aside and denying the Dolmabahçe consensus. The past nine years of struggle have shown that it is not possible for them to achieve success. It has not been and will not be possible to destroy the will of a people.