Back in March 1973, Kurdish and Turkish students with political and social motives from the universities of Ankara, were involved in organisations inspired by the teachings and momentum of the great 1968 worldwide youth revolutionary movement. One such youth organisation called The Democratic Higher Education Association of Ankara, chaired by Abahdullah Öcalan, was confident that they could continue with their activities despite the heavy pressure they were under after the 1971 military intervention. They were among several groups determined to pursue the path of the Revolutionary Youth Association (Dev-Genç), whose leaders had been either killed or executed by hanging. The members discussed socialism, the organisation of the working class, long-term popular armed struggle and the vanguard role of the intellectual youth. They also discussed imperialism and colonialism in both the context of the ongoing Cold War and the struggles in Africa, Latin America and Vietnam. At the time, vanguard theoreticians and revolutionaries like Frantz Fanon made contributions to struggles for national liberation and socialism.
In this political and social climate, the vision for the foundation of a united, independent, democratic and socialist Kurdistan by means of a socialist revolutionary movement got more and more palpable with the supporting thesis that ‘Kurdistan is a colony’.
For the Kurdish, Persian and other Mesopotamian cultures, Newroz (‘New Day’) depicts the legend of Kawa the Blacksmith liberating the people from the oppression of Dehaq the tyrant, and this historical context was adapted for the present day.
It was under these circumstances that Abdullah Öcalan (the leader of the Kurdish people who has been imprisoned for 23 years under severe isolation in an island prison), with the help of six friends, organised a Newroz event for the 21st of March in 1973. They initiated a new day -a day for freedom- which has been continuing for 50 years. This was the start of the journey that led to a people’s awakening in Kurdistan, a land in a region split between four states, and to a democratic, anti-patriarchal, ecologist and class-conscious awareness and uprising.
Half a century ago, the national struggle that, under the leadership of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) began with the liberation of Kurdistan from colonialism (as partitioned by four states in the Middle East), has evolved into a struggle for the liberation of all people, classes and women, since it has been waged at the very core of the geopolitical and geostrategic interests of global hegemonic powers.
A people without status make history
In the region the revolutionary potential is constantly growing, relying on the sympathy and support of both the Kurdish people and many others. The liberated Syrian Kurdistan (or Rojava, western Kurdistan), is now the praxis of a utopia that has emerged from the Syrian civil war, the latest link in the Arab Springs. In the process that shook Syria’s dictatorial Baath regime, Kurds who have freed their own country have created a new spirit of internationalism in the legendary fight they’ve waged against ISIS [the Islamic State]. AANES, or the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, is currently the host to the emergence of a new society that constitutes an alternative to capitalist modernity, the latest manifestation of archaic patriarchal hegemony. This a women’s revolution. Women had been recounted by Abdullah Öcalan as the first colony of humanity. He predicted that the first revolution for freedom would be led by women. Movements inspired by the PKK founded the Kurdistan Women’s Freedom Party (PAJK) and other free women’s organisations, and started leading this revolution. The emancipation of Arab, Turkmen, Assyrian, Armenian and other people of various religious and ethnic origins now continue with great enthusiasm and energy. The Rojava Kurdistan, despite all the horrible attacks and invasions that it has been subjected to since 2011, continues to embrace freedom, and expand it’s revolutionary activities.
Since its foundation, the Turkish Republic, in line with a capitalist ideology of modernity, has subjected the people of Anatolia and Mesopotamia to genocides, assimilation and to alienation in order to integrate them in it’s system. Abdullah Öcalan and the PKK lead the people, despite all those horrible practices, to a self determinated revival- to a Newroz.
From Prometheus to Öcalan: The myths of resistance continue
The 2022 Newroz is like the rebirth of a mythical legend. It witnesses how Abdullah Öcalan defies death in the worst prison conditions, and how he universalises the revolution of freedom, and in doing so, how much he resembles Prometheus who was shackled to a rock by Zeus. At the same time this year’s Newroz is a celebration of the Kurdish people’s persistence and endurance to seven years of the Erdoğan administration’s drastic policies of oppression and subjugation. These policies had terminated the peace talks which had gone on between 2013-2015 and turned them to a policy of war. Yet the Turkish administration’s policy of war, based on new tactics, was rendered useless by the guerilla’s creative and innovative means of response. It’s been demonstrated that drone warfare is practically useless against the guerilla. In this aspect, this year’s Newroz is also a ‘Newroz of the guerilla’.
The people of north Syria have managed to defend the autonomous administration despite Turkey’s 2018 invasion of Afrin and 2019 invasion of Serekaniye and Girespi, and despite its plotting with ISIS and other salafist gangs. When compared to other regions and countries which faced similar attacks, the successful resistance and endurance is the result of an absolute faith in freedom, good organisation and perseverance.
The people of South Kurdistan have staged a historical fight against the Turkish invaders despite the open and perverse collaboration of the KDP [Kurdistan Democratic Party] with the Erdoğan regime, and the KDP’s oppressive policies. The people have remained loyal and sympathetic to the Kurdish Freedom Movement as much as ever. This beautiful Newroz also marks the hope for freedom and the perseverance of the people of Badinan, Soran, Germiyan, Hawraman.
Despite all the oppression, arrests and capital executions by Iran’s Mullah administration in East Kurdistan, the resistance in urban settlements and the activities of self-defence organisations continue. The Iranian state has banned Newroz celebrations this year in fear that it would turn into a major political event. The people defied this ban, and staged huge celebrations in Kirmansan, Merivan, Mahabad, Sine, Maku and Urmia.
The end of Erdoğan’s oppressive regime is near!
We can say, in conclusion, that the 2022 Newroz is the Newroz of HDP [Peoples’ Democratic Party] and DBP [Democratic Regions Party] who have continued to serve as the democratic vanguard of the people, managing to survive lawlessness and fascist oppressions. It’s been proved, in spite of all efforts by the coalition of AKP and MHP, that no election strategy can be successful without taking these two parties into consideration.
It is expected that in this year’s Newroz, millions of liberated Kurdish people declare that the condition for a possible new peace process and negotiations for a solution is freedom for Abdullah Öcalan and all other political captives. The hope is in the New Day. The hope is in the New Spring. Let us live out each day in the spirit of Newroz. Newroz Piroz be.