According to political analysts, Kurdish votes will be critical in Turkey’s upcoming elections on 14 May. The People’s Democratic Party (HDP), has declared its support to Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, candidate of the six-party Nation Alliance and the leader of the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP), and has fielded parliamentary candidates under the label of Green Left Party, a member of the left-wing Nation Alliance. Since the start of the campaign period, the Kurdish issue has dominated the political scene, with the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) – far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) attacking the opposition, claiming they have surrendered to the demands of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Medya News discussed the political environment in Turkey, possible results of the 14 May polls in Turkey and beyond, and the importance of elections for the Kurdish people and their struggle for their rights and freedoms with Roni Serdem, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organisation of Kurdish groups including the PKK.
– If the opposition wins the elections, Turkey will be ruled by a fragile, somewhat fractured government of political parties which have no common framework on the Kurdish issue. Do you think a change in government will bring out a significant change for solving the problems of the Kurds?
Roni Serdem: A change of government alone is not enough to solve the Kurdish people’s freedom problem. The Kurdish problem can be solved through a political program based on democracy and freedom and through negotiations.
At this stage, the overthrow of the Erdoğan regime, which has committed grave crimes against the Kurds, will be an important democratic gain. As much as the opposition wants to get rid of Erdogan, it must also understand the hostility towards the Kurdish people that has brought Erdogan to the peak of fascism.
At this stage, one can see that the Nation Alliance does not have an organised road map on the Kurdish issue. The Kurdish people and the democratic public should ask the Nation Alliance what their approach to the solution of the Kurdish question is. In the face of the crimes that the Erdoğan regime has committed and continues to commit against the Kurds, women and children, it is necessary to see what attitude the Nation Alliance will take. It is well-known that the Nation Alliance also includes actors who support the state’s anti-Kurdish policy.
Relying on one’s own power and democratic popular resistance is the most logical source of realistic expectations. In this sense, the Labour and Freedom Alliance is seen by many as the most realistic democratic alliance that gives hope and confidence due to its tradition.
– What are your expectations about the future of the government’s policy on the Kurdish issue and the struggle of the Kurdish freedom movement if Erdoğan wins the elections once more?
Roni Serdem: It is not possible for the fascist chief Erdoğan to win the upcoming elections. But him stealing the votes of the people is a very realistic scenario. Therefore, it is necessary to know that all scenarios in which Erdogan wins will be based on theft, fraud and the threat of civil war.
It is not possible for anyone living with dignity to support this fascist and anti-human regime, except for a group of people who benefit from the theft and criminal system established by Erdoğan himself. If Erdoğan is declared the winner, this will plunge Turkey into even greater chaos, and the civil war that deepens on the political grounds will be taken to the streets by Erdoğan’s gangs.
Erdoğan has no choice but to wage open war against the people in order to maintain his power. Therefore, all democratic forces, especially the Kurds, should have no doubt that Erdoğan will resort to such a path.
– Do you think the possible opposition government will take steps to improve the conditions of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in prison?
Roni Serdem: Leader Apo (Abdullah Öcalan) is kept under aggravated isolation and threats. The fascist AKP-MHP regime sees this isolation as necessary for its own survival.
Leader Apo has made numerous historical initiatives for the democratic and peaceful solution of the Kurdish question. He has made strategic moves that have affected the society in Turkey and the Middle East.
The politics and perspective developed by Leader Apo for the solution of the Kurdish question are what disturbed the AKP-MHP regime the most. For this reason, they tried to cut off Leader Apo’s communication with his people and society.
Improving the conditions of Leader Apo can never be a matter of blackmail. It is an indisputable duty for every power and government that claims to defend democracy, human rights and freedom to end the torture and isolation conditions in which Leader Apo is living.
Every power that has an agenda for the solution of the Kurdish question sees that the approach to Leader Apo is an approach to our people as a whole, to democracy and freedom. Therefore, it is not easy to predict what the approach of the Nation Alliance will be. It will be possible to understand what their real difference from the Erdoğan regime, which they have criticised so much, is based on their approach towards Leader Apo.
– How will Turkey’s elections affect other parts of Kurdistan, particularly Iraq and Syria. Do you think the opposition parties who are keen to make a deal with Bashar Assad for the return of refugees have any policy regarding the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria?
Roni Serdem: The Turkish elections and any political event in Turkey undoubtedly affect all Kurds and the other peoples in the region. The political perspective of the future government also determines the direction in which relations with the regional powers will develop.
The occupation and genocide policy of the Erdoğan regime have so far brought nothing but crisis and chaos to Turkey and the region. The Nation Alliance has different and incoherent discourses on the issues you mentioned. But these do not go beyond being daily and populist discourses. Solving these problems aggravated by the AKP-MHP fascist rule in our region requires a serious culture of democracy and a spirit for a common life. It is not yet clear how seriously the Nation Alliance will do this.
For this reason, our people and the libertarian forces need to approach the post-Erdogan regime phase as democratic subjects and become building forces of politics. This way of political participation that only observes, comments and makes suggestions is not politics. It is possible to shape and influence the new era based on participatory, combative and resilient politics. The Labour and Freedom Alliance has the greatest responsibility and right in this regard.
– Given the current efforts of Arab countries to reinstate ties with the Damascus government, what are your expectations on the future of Syria?
Roni Serdem: The Syrian conflict is an example that needs to be examined carefully. Unfortunately, any initiative that is not based on a democratic popular struggle will fail. The Syria strategy pursued so far is about to collapse.
It is not a coincidence that this collapse coincides with the collapse of the Erdoğan regime. There is a direct link. For a long time Damascus was kept in the position of a struggle between two hegemonic powers. A strategy for a permanent and democratic solution to the problems could thus not be developed. Turkey’s Kurdish hostility and its approaches that prevent a solution, its exclusion of the Kurds, have been the decisive obstacle in some of the solution attempts that have been made so far.
But no problem is doomed to a single option. As can be seen from the recent developments, Damascus has found and is utilising serious opportunities to overcome the embargo that is weighing heavily on it. What is certain is that there is no way Syria can go back to pre-2012, everyone will have to develop a new approach.
For this reason, it is worth noting that any regime that ignores the Kurds and does not take the democratic will of the people as a basis does not have a future. As a movement, we believe that Syria must democratise itself and solve its problems by recognising the freedom and rights of the Kurds.
The recent developments have once again proved the validity of our solution perspective. This truth is the most correct approach that the Syrian government and all actors in the region should take into consideration. No approach based on the nation-state’s nationalism and denial of Kurds will be able carry the society into the future.