An interview with PKK Executive Committee member Murat Karayılan

Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Executive Committee member Murat Karayılan was interviewed on Dengê Welat Radio. We share the interview with you below.

Protests have been organised under the banner of the “End Isolation, Fascism and Occupation, it is Time for Freedom” campaign. However, Turkey insists on the Imralı isolation system? What is the reason for this?

Until now, we have not been able to raise enough awareness in public about the reality of the Imralı Prison System and the isolation of our leader. This is a matter of self-criticism for us. Twenty-two years have passed: we can see that it is still not fully understood.

The Imralı system is a system in which there are no human rights or laws. It is a system of psychological torture. It is fascism. This is the truth. Today, the fascist AKP-MHP regime is implementing this system to all prisons and across the country step by step. Today, nobody can say “there is the law, there is justice, there is equality” in Turkish prisons and also in the country as a whole. There is no such thing.

It should be known that freedom, equality, and peace cannot come to Kurdistan unless this psychological torture system in Imralı ends. The Imrali system is a special war regime and a genocide system carried out against the Kurdish people in Kurdistan.

As long as the Imrali system exists, there will be war, there will be no peace. The fascist practices of the Turkish state will continue. For that reason, everybody who wants democracy and freedom must first fight against the Imrali torture system. To overcome this fascist-genocidal system, the İmralı system must be eliminated.

Our leader Apo [Abdullah Öcalan] should be free. He is the leader of the Kurdish people. If the leader is not free then the pressure will never end. Therefore, for the Kurdish people to be free Leader Apo has to be free. These things are related to each other and cannot be separated. Leader Apo is resisting torture. He does not step back, he is doing it for the rights of the Kurdish people. This is a revolutionary stance; it is an attitude that represents Kurdish people. However, the torture system continues across Kurdistan and Turkey.

Activism has emerged both in the international arena and in Kurdistan, but it is not enough. It needs to be raised further. In all parts of Kurdistan, especially in Bakur, we should seriously consider this problem as our priority. The future of these people is connected with it. Today, the future of our people is in danger. We must know this. This genocidal fascist policy wants to destroy our people. There is such a great danger to our people. Leader Apo already knows this and takes a stand against it. Our people as a whole must see this reality.

The Democratic Ecological Society Paradigm Based on Women’s Freedom is known and argued in both the Middle East and around the world. It represents democratic modernity. In this sense, there is a certain level of awareness in the international arena, but if we had been able to describe and introduce Leader Apo correctly, the people of the world would have been much more willing to join campaigns. For example, now British unions – which have millions of members – stand with us. This should have been happening in all of Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Efforts are not enough. Leader Apo is not a prisoner in the hands of a nation-state; he is an international prisoner. World powers captured him and formed the Imrali system. There are countries responsible for this isolation system. The ones involved in the conspiracy are also responsible for this system. We need to communicate that to many more people. There are some developments in this regard which give some hope.

There is torture in Turkish prisons, and people die in prisons. The latest news is about the death of Sıtkı Berktaş. What can you say about that?

First of all, I commemorate the prisoner martyr Sıtkı Berktaş and bow respectfully in his memory. I wish my condolences to the valuable family of Sıtkı Berktaş. Comrade Sıtkı became the second martyr of that family. At the same time, I express my condolences to all the people of Kurdistan. Comrade Sıtkı has resisted in the prison for 28 years. This is history in itself. Comrade Sıtkı’s 28-year resistance is a source of pride for all the people of Kurdistan. He did not have the necessary treatments in prison. Of course, this is not a normal death, it is not an ordinary thing. First of all, such people are not ordinary people. A person will stick to his belief for 28 years, will risk everything, and sacrifice himself for his thoughts! There is nothing higher than that, greater than that. For this reason, all our people, especially the family of Comrade Sıtkı, must be proud of themselves.

Sıtkı Berktaş did not surrender and resisted the fascism of the Turkish state in the prison for 28 years. Egîd Civyan has resisted, fought, created an epic, and was martyred in the same way in the mountains of Kurdistan for 26 years. Today, the Kurdish youth, the pioneers of the Kurdish people, the Kurdistan revolutionaries are resisting. They do not bow to this genocidal, colonial system.

Semire Direkçi is a revolutionary woman. She has been in prison for 23 years with her honour in Diyarbakır Prison. She has serious health problems, she had surgery, her bowels were removed. They do not provide treatment for her and she lives with it. Is there greater brutality than this? A revolutionary female militant. Undoubtedly lives for her dignity. If she had yielded, they wouldn’t have approached her like that. She is resisting, that’s why they approach like this.

In short, there is sacred resistance in prisons. We have martyrs on this road. Undoubtedly, these martyrs are symbols of the Kurdistan Freedom Struggle with their resistance and stance. They are our pioneers. We will make their dreams come true, we will take their revenge, we will hold the enemy to account. We are raising the struggle on this basis.

We see that the AKP and MHP forgave and left free all their mafia, thief, murderer friends. Only politicians remained inside the prisons. Turkish revolutionary socialists and revolutionaries of the Kurdistan Freedom Struggle are left in prisons. Now they want to eliminate them with the methods of repression and torture on the one hand, and the coronavirus on the other. Information is already coming to us, this virus is spreading in prisons and there are no precautions. They aim to develop genocide. They should not forget that there is no surrender in this tradition. Just as no one has surrendered to them until now, it will not happen from now on. We greet all comrades in the prisons respectfully. Of course, as outsiders, we have much greater duties to respond to their resistance. Apoists are resisting in all prisons.

Today the Apoist movement is resisting in the mountains, valleys, cities, streets of Kurdistan, at home and abroad, waging an historical war. In this sense, our struggle is going through a very historical period. In this historical period, resistance continues in the mountains, plains, cities, and prisons of Kurdistan. The castle of persecution is about to collapse. The revolutionary wave has grown stronger. In this regard, everyone should fulfill their responsibilities wherever they are. Everybody should walk without hesitation in the pathways forged by Leader Apo.

The Turkish state has been initiating “Lightning” operations and waging psychological war, especially recently. What is the purpose of this private war?

Today, Turkey focuses on psychological operations and propaganda based on lies more than military operations. In this way, they impose their ideas on people. They make it through hundreds of TV channels and their newspapers. They tell lies there.

What is the aim?

They want to say that we ended the guerilla. “I ended the PKK, I am successful in this matter, I ended their threats about Turkey” they want to say. They want to continue to stay in power. This is their main purpose. That is why they do not show guerrilla actions in their media. For instance, two guerillas made actions in İskenderun, but they did not show it and made it look like they prevented the action. They are always trying to create the perception that “we are successful” while at the same time trying to make the guerrilla look as if they are failing and not successful. However, friends Harun and Zinar carried out actions in Iskenderun, but they are trying to make it look like the other way. Again, in the operation that took place on 11 September, there was an action carried out by friends Egîd Civyan, Canfeda, and Hebûn. They destroyed the operation coordinator. We got certain information: a lieutenant colonel, a captain, and more than 10 specialist sergeants were killed in that action. But they did not admit it. They still haven’t admitted it. For that action, I think they only said that two soldiers died. They are not telling people that a lieutenant colonel was killed. This regime is like this, waging a psychological war against us. They hide everything that will show the guerrilla’s development, success, and strength.

For instance, there are still many friends in Amanos but they make it look like there is no guerilla force left in Amanos. Despite this propaganda, they are still completing operations in Amanos. If there is no guerrilla in Amanos, then why are you doing an operation?

The operation in Ağrı, Serhat Glîdax, and the war in Heftanin are the dark sides of the Turkish occupying system. Turkey does not share information about that war with the public. An operation has been developing in Glîdax for 25 days, but Turkey does not give any information about it either.


They couldn’t even injure a guerrilla there. In the 25-day-long operation, clashes took place with intervals for 11 days. The Turkish army used all of its techniques in this operation, especially UAVs, SİHAs, warplanes, and Cobra helicopters. However, the guerrilla is successful in that operation. They never tell people. Nobody knows how many soldiers died there. The Kurdistan guerrilla makes moves every day in Heftanin, but they never talk about their losses.

In Heftanin, friends even capture and record some of their actions. It can be seen in these videos. No one is asking where are the bodies of these soldiers. This state is a liar. Before the AKP, the state was not like this. In the period before the AKP, they were saying at least that action was taken when the enemy was shot or when there was action held in a place. Of course, they were not saying the truth as it is but partially they were giving some information. Now they don’t mention anything we do. They deny it, saying “these will serve the organisation”.

They are not like that only about war. They lie on other topics too. There is a pandemic now but they do not give the correct information to people. It has been proven that the Ministry of Health has been lying every day. The same holds for the economic crisis. They lie. This is a great insult and disrespectful to society.

In these recent years, the defence and interior ministers have been competing with each other. One ministry says “we have killed this much in this year, we killed this much in a month”, then the other ministry makes a statement, and he says, “we have killed this much in a month”. They are creating success for themselves through the killing of Kurdish children. They are lying – none of the numbers they have given so far are correct. They always contradict themselves.

How this is happening?

On the one hand they say “the PKK wants to create a terrorist state, it wants to establish a state in Rojava. PKK seized Southern Kurdistan and also wants to occupy Erbil”. They say that Sincar is the centre of the PKK. On the other hand, they say only 400 guerillas are left. How can 400 people be about to establish a state? You said there were only 400 guerrillas left. They also say that “the PKK sent hundreds of people to Armenia and they are fighting against Azerbaijan.” They are all lies.

The Kurdistan Freedom Struggle has truth on its side. In the current period, the Kurdistan Freedom Struggle is very close to success. That is why the Turkish state is confused about what to do. They are in a panic and rushing. Turkey is making propaganda against the PKK and has tried to hide the truth of our strength.

Recently, there are reports about people that Turkey has abducted from the PKK. They say that these people are convinced by Turkey. Again, as you have just mentioned, very exaggerated numbers regarding the losses of your powers are shared in Turkish media. What do you say about these?

We are a big army. Sometimes, especially on the South line, some people escape from our ranks. However, in the last two years, this is almost come to an end. If it does happen, it’s very rare. Our people and our friends should know this too. Those who had escaped from our ranks in the past have gone to the South. The South has turned into a rehabilitation platform by the Kurdistan Democrat Party (KDP). In other words, they collect those who escaped from us, and they release them after feeding them for a while. These people are all by themselves and very poor, in difficult conditions. They are struggling with depression. Meanwhile, they are contacting their families and the National Intelligence Organisation (MIT). They are told, “If you come, we will not arrest you.” They are deceived by saying “You will just give a statement and go home”. Then they take their families to the HDP building and make a scene there. They make it look as if they persuaded the child whose family is waiting in front of the HDP building.

However, even if they bring him to the PKK, the PKK will not accept him. The PKK will not accept such an unbeliever. The PKK is a place of honourable, faithful, and valuable people. Many people who have escaped from us regret it later, but cannot return to us again. Some are applying for a return. They know that even if they return, they can no longer be one with us. That’s why they go.

What do they do when they go?

After carrying out the propaganda procedure, they say to them, “You will be on our side, you have to”. Turkey uses these people. To make propaganda, they make it look as if that person was the guerrilla, the MIT reached out to him and convinced him. In reality, there is no such thing. No one in the guerrilla ranks is convinced like that. For example, there was someone who betrayed us before this Serhat operation. This has already been announced to the press. Such betrayals can happen but there is no one that they convince. A stronger determination has developed in the guerrilla in recent years. The numbers they give are all lies.

Today, war is conducted over intelligence. This is the case all over the world, but since the Turkish state has no ground fighting force and cannot fight hand-to-hand with the guerrilla, it has been working on intelligence and technology. They hit some of our troops from places where they get intelligence. We learn that one of our team or one or two allies were hit. On what basis is this happening? This is happening based on receiving intelligence. For example, they give numbers to operations. If those operations were not based on intelligence, they did not get results. These are unqualified operations. The operations that the Ministry of Interior mentions and advertises are not successful operations from which they can get results. If the guerrilla has a deficit, they can take advantage of that vulnerability and hit the guerrilla.

How does it happen?

We put a lot of emphasis on this, but despite dwelling on it, there may be a deficit in some places. The enemy can hit some points when it happens. When this happens, losses can occur. This is not like the numbers given by the enemy. In places where there is a mistake, some allies or a team can be martyred in the fighting. These have happened in some places. We declare the losses. Our people should know that we do not hide our losses. Sometimes we might announce them late.


Because we are waiting for the official confirmation. The enemy sometimes says they killed some allies, but do not believe in the enemy. We are waiting for information from allies. Research can be conducted to find detailed information on some cases. In such cases, announcements of martyrs can be late. After confirmation, all of them are announced.


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An interview with PKK Executive Committee member Murat Karayılan

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