The Youth Council of the pro-Kurdish Green Left Party has initiated a campaign in response to what they describe as the “special warfare” policies of the Turkish government – a term they use to characterise certain strategies they believe aim “to render communities, especially the youth and women, passive and exploitable”.
Central to their concerns is the treatment of jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, but the campaign also encompasses broader issues. These include what the Youth Council perceives as efforts to disempower the Kurdish youth by pushing drugs in Kurdish majority areas, environmental degradation and the imposition of patriarchal views, cultural assimilation and other ideological influences.
Ömer Görünmek, a representative from the Green Left Party Youth Council, shed light on the campaign’s motivations. He explained that, in their view, “special warfare” is a strategy devoid of clear rules and moral considerations. Görünmek suggested that such tactics might be employed to mould societal perceptions and behaviours in a particular direction.
He further detailed the Youth Council’s intentions to raise awareness about these policies, which they believe suppress the voices and rights of certain communities. “Since 2015, the state has adopted strategies that we interpret as being part of this ‘special warfare’ approach. Our campaign is a direct response to these perceived strategies,” Görünmek stated.
After the June 2015 elections which deprived the administration of an absolute parliamentary majority and witnessed the entry of dozens of MPs from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party into parliament, the Turkish government abandoned the peace process and reverted to policies of war.
Outlining the Youth Council’s approach, Görünmek mentioned grassroots engagement as a key strategy. “We aim to interact at a community level, organising events and workshops to discuss and raise awareness about these concerns,” he said.
A significant point of contention for the council is the treatment of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. “There are concerns about the state’s tactics, especially regarding Abdullah Öcalan. While some might see İmralı Island Prison as just a detention facility, for us, and those who share our viewpoint, it holds a deeper symbolic significance,” he noted.
Furthermore, Görünmek stressed that these policies are an attack on Öcalan’s vision for a new way of life. “We will engage with every young person affected by drugs, prostitution and other societal ills. We will establish our presence on the streets, reclaiming areas where the state’s influence is evident. Our goal is to raise awareness and combat these policies at every turn.”
“There are those who have come to see prostitution as a normal way of life. We aim to change this perception. We will sit down with every young person, engage with families, and strive to establish a healthier, more positive way of life in opposition to these special warfare policies,” he explained.
Wrapping up, Görünmek emphasised the campaign’s broader goals. “We aim to engage with communities, raising awareness about issues we believe are part of this ‘special warfare’ from drug abuse to broader societal concerns. Our ultimate goal is to foster a more informed and engaged community”, he added.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), facing the threat of being shut down by the Constitutional Court, ensured their presence in the May elections by having their candidates run for parliament under the Green Left Party’s lists.