In Turkey / Türkiye

Interview with Cemil Bayik, Acting Leader of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Co-Chair of Executive Council of Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), published on Kurdish Question, May 13, 2016

Acting Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader and Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council Co-Chair Cemil Bayık has spoken to Kurdish news agency ANF and evaluated recent political developments in Kurdistan and the Middle East.

Bayık highlighted the intensified isolation of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, and said that the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture’s (CPT) visit to the island prison Imralı was overdue and made possible by the pressure applied by the Kurdish people. Bayık stated that the CPT should inform the public about Öcalan’s conditions as soon as possible.

The KCK Co-Chair also stated that a ‘special war regime’ is ruling Turkey and that it could not solve the country’s problems. Bayık called upon “democratic and leftist forces to unite against the AKP and the fascist Turkish regime”. Bayık said that the democratic self-administration/rule resistance in Turkey’s southeast (North Kurdistan) had defeated the AKP, and called upon UN officials to set up an international court to prosecute the perpetrators of war crimes there.

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) carried out an overdue visit to İmralı Island after pressure by Kurdish people and its allies. However, a statement on the visit has not been made as of yet. Do you think that the CPT’s visit will yield any results for the struggle against the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan in İmralı?

Cemil Bayak, acting leader of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)

Cemil Bayak, acting leader of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)

An international concept targeting our movement and people is in play, and our leader Öcalan is at the center of this concept. The isolation is part of this concept and the genocidal policies carried out against our people. The treatment of our leader enables us to understand the goals of the fascist and colonialist Turkish state, the capitalist modernity system that supports it, and the state’s collaborators in Kurdistan. Our leader leads this movement and the Kurdish people; any policy that targets him also targets our people. His treatment will determine the course of the conflict; the Kurdish people and its allies supporting freedom, democracy, justice, equality and peace should comprehend this. The CPT, for a long time, refused to visit Imralı Island despite the struggle against the isolation of our leader, and this shows that Erdoğan and the AKP are not the only forces carrying out the aforementioned concept. International conspirators work with the fascist and colonialist Turkish state, and the CPT had failed to visit the island as a result of the cooperation.

The CPT should make a statement

The CPT was forced to visit Imralı Island due to the pressures of the Kurdish people and its allies. They would not have visited the island if our movement, people, allies – particularly the committee led by Nelson Mandela’s lawyer Essa Moosa – had not struggled for this. This committee carried out several meetings in the European Council and forced the CPT to visit the island. This shows that an international concept targeting our leader, movement and people has been in play. The CPT was expected to inform our people and democracy forces about its visit, but has failed to do so. What did they discuss with our leader? What did they witness? For what reason did they meet with representatives from the Ministry of Justice and other state institutions? What were their goals? They should make a statement on these issues.

Erdoğan organised the attack on Kobanê

The Turkish state’s policies crippled Öcalan’s attempts to transform the mentality in Turkey, democratise the country, and solve the Kurdish question and other issues through democratic and peaceful means. Our movement made important advances in Turkish society, the Middle East, and the international arena. Forces behind the international conspiracy against our leader and movement (beginning in 1999) felt threatened by these advances and decided to wage war right before the attacks on Kobanê. Actually, Islamic State (ISIS) attacks on Kobanê were coordinated by Erdoğan and constituted the implementation of the aforementioned war. This is why Erdoğan said ‘Kobane is about to fall.’ He wanted Afrin to fall after Kobanê; this would mean the end of Rojava revolution. The revolution in North Kurdistan would be crushed afterwards, and Erdoğan was coordinating all these efforts.

Resistance for self-rule victorious

Of course, AKP officials did not see the self-administration/rule resistance coming. They thought that they could implement their ‘Collapse Plan’ successfully, but the resistance upset their plan. Their declaration of war received a blow in Kobanê and later on June 7 [with the HDP’s election victory]. The third blow came with the self-administration/rule resistance, which was victorious despite heavy losses. The resistance won against their ‘Collapse Plan’ and brought victory to the Kurdish Freedom Movement and Kurdish people. The resistance here is not just for Kurdish people but also for democracy and freedom in Turkey. Valuable people and politicians such as Mehmet Tunç, Asya Yüksel and Pakize Nayır participated in this resistance along with young people, women and even children.

Solidarity must be strengthened

Kurdish people and democracy forces should strengthen their solidarity and enhance their mobilisation and struggle. Kurdish people should share their opportunities in a more united manner and not allow others to settle in their cities, neighbourhoods and villages. We should not allow TOKI (Turkey’s Mass Housing Administration) settlements in destroyed areas and do everything to stop the genocidal attacks of the colonialist Turkish forces and their Kurdish collaborators. These forces do not only carry out physical massacres, they also try to assimilate us and change the demographics of the region. They want to expel Kurdish people from their lands and cripple their economy. They say that Kurdish people will surrender, deny their own existence and serve the Turkish state, or be killed.

All methods of struggle are legitimate

Kurdish people should stand up for their honour, identity, and values. This may be costly, both mentally and materially. However, nobody should compromise the resistance since Kurdish people cannot live without their identity, culture, language, and values. Kurdish people can only live in their own villages, lands, cities, and neighbourhoods in Kurdistan. We should ensure victory after decades of struggle and sacrifice; we cannot accept anything that does not serve our victory. Kurdish people cannot allow TOKI plans to construct housing projects in Kurdistan and Arabise them with people from Syria. We have to resist in an organised and disciplined manner. We will be victorious if we strengthen our solidarity and share our opportunities. Our victory will also benefit the peoples of the Middle East and humanity at large.

Resistance must spread across Kurdistan

Resistance may have been limited in its scope so far, but must now spread across the cities and villages of Kurdistan and Turkey. Resistance can take the form of marches, protests, uprisings, democratic actions and solidarity. It can also take the form of military action, which will bring the people and the guerrillas together. No force can stand in the way of the union of Kurdish people, leftist democracy forces and the peoples of Turkey.

Recently, the UN Human Rights Commissioner made a statement and highlighted the Turkish state’s savagery in Cizre. The AKP had committed crimes against humanity and targeted civilians during the self-administration resistance. How do you evaluate this statement? Human rights organisations had been silent despite the clear savagery in Cizre and Sur. Do you think there will be a process of prosecution of these war crimes and the crimes against humanity?

The UN stated that 100 people were burnt alive in Cizre and they have documents proving this massacre. UN officials also requested the investigation of the events by an independent committee from the Turkish state, which continues to refuse this request. Turkey does not allow an independent investigation because it would expose the genocide it carries out in Kurdistan. The massacres reached the agenda of the UN despite the Turkish state’s efforts to conceal them. I believe that other international organisations also have documents shedding light on the massacre in Cizre. They had been silent on the issue and seemed like they were approving Turkish atrocities, which encouraged Erdoğan, the AKP, and the fascist and colonialist Turkish state. This is why they were burning people alive, dismembering bodies, displaying the naked bodies of female fighters, dragging the dead bodies of Kurdish fighters, and destroying houses and towns. They executed pregnant women, older people, cats, dogs, sheep, goats and cows. Even Hitler was not as brutal as the fascist and colonialist Turkish state, today represented by Erdoğan, and did not carry out acts of genocide [assimilation] like those perpetrated against the Kurdish people!

War crimes should be exposed

If representatives of international institutions such as the UN, European Council and international courts visit Kurdistan and investigate what transpired in places such as Cizre, Sur, Silopi, Gever, Şırnak, Nusaybin, Hezex and Silvan, they will see that hundreds of people and houses were burnt, and that state forces committed countless crimes against the Kurdish people and humanity. The war crimes of the Turkish state should be investigated, exposed and prosecuted. The UN’s statements are overdue but positive. UN officials should not stop there and set up an international court to prosecute the perpetrators of war crimes in Kurdistan. This is what we want, this is what Kurdish people want, and this is what democracy forces want.

Lawyers must act

Kurdish people, social institutions, democracy forces, and human rights organisations in Turkey should focus on this issue. Lawyers must act and bring these massacres onto the agenda of international organisations. International war tribunals should take action and fulfill their duty against the Kurdish people and humanity at large. The UN’s statement was a result of the work of lawyers and human rights organisations. I believe that an international tribunal will be set up if these efforts increase and reach a wider audience.

Historically Turkey has carried out massacres and genocides targeting Armenian, Assyrian, Alevi, Greek and other peoples, but none of these atrocities have been investigated. This lack of punishment enabled the Turkish state to repeat its genocides and even kill its own President [Turgut Özal] and Chief of Staff [Eşref Bitlis]. Turkish officials can plan new massacres because of this lack of investigation, but humanity can no longer tolerate this. The only way for preventing further genocides by Turkey and serving Kurdish and Turkish people is to investigate previous genocides and bring their perpetrators to justice.

Translated to English by ANF English service. Edited by Kurdish Question.


EDITOR’S NOTE: We remind our readers that publication of articles on our site does not mean that we agree with what is written. Our policy is to publish anything which we consider of interest, so as to assist our readers in forming their opinions. Sometimes we even publish articles with which we totally disagree, since we believe it is important for our readers to be informed on as wide a spectrum of views as possible.

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