“What matters to the PKK is not having a state, but to emerge as a self-power, which lies within the Kurdish people and their history. That is why inside the movement, questions of “what to do, how to live, how to struggle” have always topped the agenda, which actually constitute the meaning of life, have never been hidden and the movement has always moved forward based on a mechanism of criticism and self-criticism,” writes Sara Aktaş for Yeni Özgür Politika on the occasion of the 43rd anniversary of the founding of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
“The essence of revolution is not the struggle for bread; it is the struggle for human dignity,” says Frantz Fannon.
What Fanon says, is a call for struggle for all colonised countries, for all those wretched of the earth, who have been oppressed and exploited.
He believes that colonialism, which is based on brutal violence, could only step back when it faces major counter violence, because in colonised countries persecution walks around all so naked and kills people in daylight without feeling the need to hide this.
So, the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] emerged on the stage of politics 44 years ago as a movement based on violence against colonialism defending national liberation.
However, this anti-colonialist violence has not only taken up arms, but it has also found another meaning as a radical rejection of the colonialist policies that deny the existence of Kurds and history based on the denial of the Kurds.
Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdish people, defines the dark state of surrender that his people have been in similar to Fanon as follows:
“All so treacherously, all so dark gaze upon their own reality. Everything smells like hopelessness… The history of Kurdistan, the history of freedom, they will keep saying, but was there anything that could be called history back then? Let alone their history, was there the people as a people themselves? A people that turned into an enemy! A people that have been an enemy to themselves more than anyone else! All my endeavours was also to appeal to this cursed tribe to leave this ill state of being. My hard endeavours is like the attempt of Moses to bring the tribe to Mount Sinai.”
Thus the PKK was shaped by a group that united around Rêber Abdullah Öcalan [Rêber in Kurdish might be read both as a leader and guidance in English] in order to resurrect and re-build the Kurdish people, carried its existence into Kurdistan, and declared its foundation as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party on 27 November 1978.
First of all, the PKK has not only been an armed organisation that fights against colonialism, but also has fought against the internalised colonised spirit within Kurds. By doing so, it has “given a breath of life” into the values and life style of the Kurdish people that had been still.
Secondly, the meaning of the PKK for the Kurdish people is to give a people, the existence of whom has been denied, to become subjects and to create their history as a collective subjectivity. Because, according to the PKK, the Kurdish people have an existential problem; the Kurdish existence had been dragged into extinction rather than having been synthesised with other existences.
Struggling against the attacks against the whole of Kurdish society in cultural, economical, social and political spheres has a universal meaning of defending the plurality that this earth embodies.
As the third and last point I want to draw attention to: What matters to the PKK is not having a state, but to emerge as a self-power, which lies within the Kurdish people and their history. That is why in the movement, questions of “what to do, how to live, how to struggle” have always topped the agenda, as these questions, which actually constitute the meaning of life, have never been hidden and the movement has always moved forward based on a mechanism of criticism and self-criticism.
Therefore, the PKK and its Leadership, both stating that they aim to create a meaning and that this is what freedom is, have dealt with all the political, social and even metaphysical issues such as rebellion, social organisation, value production, truth, self-defence, plurality, religion, universe, gender and family.
In this regard, a quite profound struggle within the movement has also been waged for individuals to collectively rid themselves of the slave identity within that was created in the grip of capitalism, patriarchy and colonialism. That means, no compromise has been given when it comes to settle accounts with the identities imposed by the system, with the micro power relations and values.
Sartre, in his preface for the “Wretched of the Earth”, had written that the violence of the colonialists on colonies aimed at dehumanising the colonised. In the same preface, he says that striking a colonialist down, one hits two birds with one stone. Here, whoever is destroyed is both the oppressor and the oppressed. This counter-violence is the human re-creating themselves.
The PKK should be evaluated as a re-birth, as an action of the subject, who had been colonised, to return to be a free subject, because the revolution means the death of the former colonised human being and the birth of the new human. The PKK, has become the act of “surgically extracting the coloniser from within in a bloody operation,” as Sartre puts it.
That means that the PKK has conducted an operation of cleaning with burning embers the soul of the colonised human, who were ashamed of their roots and who had surrendered to colonialism.
That is why the PKK is an act of saving a people who had been shattered and left breathless in the swamps of multiple hegemonic relations and reaching out to the collectivity formed by individuals who have independent thoughts and free will.
The PKK does not represent the masses, who only unite around a central power and act accordingly; vice versa, it is the unity of the individuals, who aim to fulfill their social responsibilities with a consciousness and will that has been earned with labour and sacrifice.
As an act of identification as a people, as an act of owning and embracing your own identity, the PKK is an affirmation of existence.
So what PKK means, is a one-way march to the new world as people take part in it with struggle and with the values that have been created amid this struggle.
Happy 44th anniversary of the freedom march to all oppressed peoples!