The four-month period of inaction the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) observed was rendered meaningless due to Ankara’s increased attacks against the group, Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council Co-chair Cemil Bayık said in an interview on Thursday.
The PKK declared it was halting military actions in the aftermath of the devastating 6 February earthquakes that impacted more than 13 million people in Turkey and Syria. This period of inaction was ended on 14 June.
“There was a reason we declared a ceasefire,” Bayık said. “Thousands of our people lost their lives. A great pain befell them. We fulfilled our responsibility to ease our people’s pain.”
“Another reason was to allow a strong foundation to flourish for democratic politics. As long as fighting continues, democratic politics cannot push back much,” he continued. “Ours was a humane and moral decision.”
The PKK extended the period of inaction until after Turkey’s elections on 14 May. “There was talk of (government) provocations. They have done so in the past. We took this into consideration, and extended the ceasefire to prevent provocations.”
However, according to Bayık, Turkey’s aggression policy did not change. “The Turkish state aims to eliminate the PKK and the Kurdish people. As such, they failed to grasp the reason for our decision. They thought the guerrilla decided this because they are weak, and the ceasefire was an opportunity to strike hard and eliminate them.”
“They employed everything at their disposal. They took many steps, including arrests, killings, and severe prison sentences. At that point, our decision was rendered meaningless, so we officially ended the ceasefire,” Bayık said.
“The war will expand further, because they formed another war government,” Bayık said.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) maintained its parliamentary majority in the May elections, and AKP chairman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was elected president for the third time.
”Erdoğan has openly stated that they want stronger war in terms of military and diplomacy. He established the cabinet on this foundation, and that is their practice,” Bayık continued. “They increase their attacks, and our resistance grows as well.”
The AKP is attractive for religious people in Turkey, which make up a “strong” portion of society, Bayık said. “Erdoğan’s misconduct must be stopped so he won’t be able to base his politics on the faithful. This is a large portion of society. If you don’t embrace this demographic, if you don’t include them, you cannot achieve any result in Turkey. This is what the elections showed again.”
The Labour and Freedom Alliance that included Turkey’s pro-Kurdish and left-wing parties should take into consideration the large sections of society that identify as religious, and further develop an understanding of “democratic Islam”, Bayık said.
“This alliance aims to democratise Turkey and unite its peoples against fascism,” he added. “There can be shortcomings, but one must draw lessons from them. That is the approach for success.”
“They should go to the people and embrace them with a policy of democratic Islam,” Bayık continued, and suggested better analyses into PKK founding leader Abdullah Öcalan’s concept of a democratic nation.
Bayık also condemned the Kurdistan Regional Government’s rapprochement with Erdoğan’s newly installed government. “Yaşar Güler said the meeting with Masrour Barzani went well, and would have positive outcomes,” he said. “Of course Barzani can go to Turkey and have meetings. We don’t object to that. But if Kurds suffer attacks when he goes to Ankara, and the attacks continue after he leaves, there is a significance to it.”
Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Masrour Barzani met with Erdoğan and Turkish Defence Minister Yaşar Güler in Ankara last week. As the meeting was underway, a Turkish drone strike killed several Syrian Kurdish politicians and other civilians in majority-Kurdish Qamishli (Qamişlo) in northern Syria.
“The question everybody has is, what kind of meetings did Barzani hold with the Turkish state? What did they decide? They must clarify. If they don’t, if they ignore the questions, everybody will think they decided on negative outcomes for the PKK and the Kurdish people, as Turkey fights the Kurdish people,” Bayık said.