Ever since Abdullah Öcalan organised the first meeting paving the way for the establishment of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on 21 March 1973 on the shore of the Çubuk Dam in Turkey’s capital Ankara, the Kurdish new year festival, Newroz, has been celebrated with ceremonies that symbolise the “resurrection of the Kurdish people“.
In a historic text, Öcalan, imprisoned in Turkey’s İmralı Island Prison for nearly a quarter of a century and held in total isolation for more than two years, explains the connection between Newroz and the resistance of the Kurdish people.
Öcalan’s following article refers to Mazlum Doğan, who died in 1982. Following a 1980 military coup, the PKK central committee member carried out a political protest in the country’s notorious Diyarbakır (Amed) prison, by immolating himself on Newroz.
Newroz will also see the celebration of anniversaries commemorating resistance to the oppression and domination that has been going on for centuries, to which the memory of Comrade Mazlum responds.
From now on, Newroz will be the turning point where resistance deepens and develops, as our struggle for independence and freedom reaches gigantic proportions.
We will carry the memory of Comrade Mazlum on to tomorrow, not as a memory that can be contained in a day, a month or a year, but as a strong legacy that will last until we break up the unbelievable system of slavery in which our people live, and achieve a classless society. As our comrade has well expressed, we will make his memory a tool of our salvation by making every anniversary the foundation and flag for other anniversaries.
With this understanding, we are not content with mere pity or the voicing of grievances. On the contrary, as with all our martyred heroes, the only way to be worthy of Comrade Mazlum, who is one of the last and strongest of people, is to grant him and them an epochal position in accordance with the meaning of the day of their martyrdom, infusing their ideology, politics and action power into our entire party and our people. We are aware that it is our duty to do so, and thus to do what is expected of us for as long as we live.
To the partial extent that we succeed in this, we do our duty. And we know well that without realising this duty, we will not be able to express our commitment to the memory of our comrades.