Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) Co-chair Cemil Bayık spoke about latest developments in Kurdistan, Turkey, the Middle East and the world, focusing on Turkish operations in Northern Iraq, Kurdistan Regional Government’s attitude towards Kurds not affiliated with its establishment, the pressure Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) faces in Turkey, the impact of NATO affairs on Kurds, Turkey’s policy in Syria, and the prison conditions of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) founder Abdullah Öcalan.
First part of the interview, abridged and lightly edited for clarity from KCK’s original, follows.
Isolation of Abdullah Öcalan on Turkish Prison Island İmralı
Turkey wants to appear to be following the law regarding Abdullah Öcalan and his current incommunicado status, so the prison administration issues back-to-back disciplinary penalties to justify bans on Öcalan meeting his lawyers or family members. They issue a new one before the current one ends, even, prolonging the penalty every six months.
They want to make Öcalan’s isolation constant, to cut him off from humanity, the people, and our movement. They want people to forget about him, but this is impossible. This isolation policy of the Turkish state against Öcalan is against the Kurdish people and all of humanity.
The “right to hope” as defined in European law would have Öcalan’s imprisonment go up for review after 24 years behind bars, which would be next year. As a founding member of the Council of Europe, Turkey knows that this would be on the agenda soon, and seeks to prevent exactly that. They say Öcalan’s imprisonment continues because he continues to hold on to his goals. There is also the case that convicts with disciplinary penalties are not allowed this right to have their situation reviewed, their conditions improved or to be released from prison.
Sixteen British trade unions have recently issued a call in an open letter to Turkey, making an international statement in support of Öcalan and the Kurdish people, demanding an end to the war against him, Kurds, and the guerrilla. They demand turkey end its genocidal campaign and its ban on Kurdish culture and language, and sit down with Kurds to resolve the Kurdish issue. Italian trade unions also held a demonstration with similar demands.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank and appreciate them all for their important work. Our movement and people will never forget this. But, now they have to work harder to mobilise unions from other countries and the European public so they can achieve important outcomes.
Death Penalty in Turkey’s Prisons
Turkey knows its targeting of the Kurdish people would not yield results if they do not also target those in prisons. Political prisoners represent the Kurdish people, to crush the people one would crush their will.
Turkey officially ended the death penalty in 2004, but current policies of torture paint another picture. Revolutionary and democratic prisoners who refuse to capitulate are subjected to torture, until they are dead. And when they do, the state turns over their bodies to their families, saying they died of unidentified diseases. It is absolutely obvious that these political prisoners are being tortured to death and that this clearly is a way of taking revenge.
Turkey’s attacks in Northern Iraq
The Claw-Lock operation started on 17 April, but the war against Kurdish-held areas started on 26 August 2016, when Turkey attacked Jarablus.
On that day, US President Joe Biden and Kurdistan Democratic Party leader Masoud Barzani were in Ankara, clearly showing that the United States, Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government made this decision together. As a result, Syrian Kurdish Afrin, Serekaniye and Gire Spi were occupied, alongside Jarablus itself and Bab.
Turkey might appear to be the one waging this war in Zap and Avaşîn, but it is actually NATO. We are fighting against NATO. Not only today, but we have been fighting against NATO ever since the PKK was founded.
Because Turkey is a NATO member, it receives very comprehensive support from NATO, without which the war could not have continued. NATO is the one deciding to wage this war, Turkey simply implements this decision, while the KDP collaborates.
I can clearly say that the current war is not like what Turkey has waged against to date. Both the state and the government see this as the battle that will decide whether they survive or fall. They have mobilised all resources, and are using the most modern technology with a huge number of troops deployed.
Turkey does not care how many soldiers or Islamist mercenaries die in northern Syria. The objective is clear: Achieve results. Crush the PKK. Carry out the genocide.
Although another goal is to achieve the Misak-ı Milli borders: To return to Turkish hands some of the lands lost during the fall of the Ottoman Empire and World War I, most significantly via the Treaty of Lausanne. This is why the current war will affect all peoples in the region.
If the PKK and the Kurdish people suffer a blow, nobody will be able to stay on their feet. In that case, fascism will be able to establish itself in all of Turkey.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his partner far-right leader Devlet Bahçeli are using both the Turkish army and Islamist proxies. These proxies were also sent to Libya and Azerbaijan. HPG and YJA-Star guerrillas put up a heroic resistance against all of these attacks, but Turkey has planned for quick results with a huge force and heavy weapons. The guerrilla has foiled the neo-Ottoman plans to expand to Misak-ı Milli borders. The balance sheets published by the Peoples’ Defence Forces (HPG) Central Command clearly show the huge blows Turkey suffers daily, weekly and monthly. Zap will be a graveyard for the government and they will fall.
Everybody must therefore refrain from aiding Erdoğan and Bahçeli’s policies. Whoever continues to support their policy will lose. For Kurds, be it the KDP. In Turkey, be it the CHP and İYİP. Whoever takes marching orders from their policies will lose.
Meanwhile, assertions of use of chemical weapons are not investigated. Britain blocked an investigation into affected areas – why? Because if the use of chemical weapons is documented, they would have a problem.
Britain also provides Turkey with weapons, and stands behind Turkey’s war together with the United States, Germany and Israel. KDP works together with Turkey, in line with how these forces decide. NATO is actively involved in this war. That is why this is a war against NATO.