THIRTEEN – An Identity That Must Be Accurately Defined

It would be an important shortcoming if I were not to redefine my own identity in this defense. Instead of repeating the self-definition I have provided elsewhere, I will add a few things that supplement and complement what I have already said.

While working on this part of the book, I thought a lot about Enkidu’s identity. When I tried to understand the Enkidu of the Gilgamesh epic, the oldest known written epic and the oldest of our narratives, I noticed that he actually represents all those who long for the state and the city. Uruk was the first city and first city-state in history to have a written chronicle that is still extant today. The famous hero Gilgamesh is one of the demigod kings of Uruk.1 He is possibly the founder of the city. From the epic, we learn that the city of Uruk was often attacked by savage tribes and wild animals. As a result, Uruk was the first city in history to be protected by imposing ramparts and to engage in fierce defensive wars.

It is not rare in history to encounter situations where warriors needed for the city are found among the uncivilized “savage” societies. King Gilgamesh tried to recruit strong warriors from the tribes people living in the mountainous forest regions in the north of today’s Iraq. His approach to this is extremely interesting. The city-state of Uruk had discovered a new way of life, and the glamor of city life was very attractive. One of the key things that made the city attractive was the prostitution of women. To put it more precisely, it was highly attractive for men to have a pleasant life ruling over women, who were the remnants of the mother-goddess and gradually imprisoned in private homes and “public houses.” Men’s new slaves gave them access to a life of unlimited pleasure.

It is not without reason that Innana, the goddess of Uruk, went to battle against the crafty male god Enki.2 Inanna was a later incarnation of Ninhursag, meaning the “goddess of the mountain regions.” She represented the domestic mother who developed the Neolithic civilization. This is how the society that emerged around the mother became a divine symbol. Probably one of the issues that she resisted most was women being offered as sexual commodities in private and public houses. This is what was behind the major struggle she waged for the dignity of the goddess. The epic names a well-known pleasure woman as the most important factor binding Enkidu to Uruk, which is entirely credible. It is this woman who seduces the wild Enkidu near the water and captures him. As he becomes bound to the woman from the city, Enkidu finally becomes a great military commander in the service of Gilgamesh. Thereafter, the further adventures of Gilgamesh and Enkidu are immortalized in this oldest surviving epic of humanity.

When I compared the history of Enkidu with my own first contact with elementary school and the city, it did not take me long to realize that this story was actually also telling my story. Let me recount an incident that might be of interest. I encouraged the children of our village to go to the elementary school in the neighboring village of Cibin. Among these kids, there was a boy named Şevket, the little brother of Cumo, against whom I carried out my first “guerrilla action.” His mother was one of the poorest and most uncultivated women in the village, but what she said when Şevket was first sent to school was literally worthy of a professor. I remember it exactly; she said, in Kurdish: “Şevketê me buye hukûmet” (our Şevket has become the government). It was only after working on this court defense that I understood what she meant.

Each one of us was now an Enkidu who was coaxed into running toward the city, which is to say, the state. We were breaking away from the mother-based society. Bit by bit, we began to feel contempt for the village. Against the background of the superiority of the city, the village increasingly faded away. Our mothers were increasingly losing their importance. We began to disdain our bond to tribe and family. The city and the state hidden within it pulled on us like a magnet. Thereafter, it would not be easy to escape its influence. The city and the state in it objectively functioned as tremendous propaganda tools in their own right. Everything about the city was presented as perfect. It would have been impossible to refuse the prostitute who paraded in such beautiful garments and exquisite makeup. The city exploited everything to demonstrate its superiority, and we totally lost sight of our own little village. The most ordinary state official was now our new deity. His every word and the very garments he wore constituted the new divinity. Everything was designed for effect. On top of it all, the Kurds were given the epithet “those with tails.” The formula for shedding this epithet as quickly as possible was to rapidly become urbanized, that is to become part of the state and to become Turkish. Not only did we begin to despise our village and our family but also our Kurdishness. These felt like shackles on our feet. Our whole world unfolded within this triad: the more urbanized you became, the more you became part of the state, and the more you became part of the state, the more Turkish you were, and the more Turkish you were, the greater your chances of advancement. This was our new societal custom. Religion and knowledge were only meaningful on that basis. For us, a whole new socialization took place in the context of this triad.

I conclude from this that urbanization and statization have priority over the formation of class and the nation. Contrary to popular opinion, this identification with the city and the state was the most fundamental and primeval factor of socialization. Being a proletarian or socialist are nothing more than a product of this urbanization and internalization of the state, resembling the attributes of the state-god. Sociology has yet to fully analyze the formation of the personality by the city and the state. The communal and rural personality and the urban and state-fixated personality are starkly different sociological phenomena. Without dissecting them, no analysis of class, socialism, and democracy can ever be complete or coherent. There are fundamental contradictions and differences between a society shaped by the city and the state and a rural communal society. Rural society is communal, i.e., egalitarian and democratic, which is to say, free to the same degree that the society shaped by the city and the state is statist and authoritarian. In that sense, the most important contradiction in history is between urban statist society and rural communal society, and the real struggle takes place between urban statist authoritarianism and rural communal democracy. But I only understood this much later.

Our journey toward the city and the state was cemented by our passion for attending military school and the political faculty. Authority attracts authority. We wanted to achieve political and military authority not at a measured step but at a run. When I was confronted with obstacles, I was extremely saddened, and when I could not attend military school, I considered myself very unlucky indeed. At that time, the attraction of urban woman was a separate draw but an attractive force in the same vein. Under these circumstances, being a revolutionary meant to be the best practitioner of statism. Socialism was understood as the smoothest functioning state, and we felt it would provide us with the greatest possible progress. For us, the state was like our new, modern flying vehicle. Our rebelliousness was perceived as yearning for the past and as a reaction against the new. Kurdishness, however, was always experienced as a problem struggling to articulate itself.

When our statism appeared to be something that was even more accessible in the Middle East, we firmly believed that we could achieve our goals using this instrument. Although it did not give us much reassurance, combining the possibilities opened up by being state-oriented with our revolutionary goals allowed us to advance quickly. Let me just be clear in saying that this was the first time that I felt that my personality was experiencing an erosion of meaning. The sacredness of life was losing its value a bit at a time. I came to understand that we would not win with a state but would, in fact, lose. I began to doubt that we could reach our goal by jumping on the state bandwagon. But since we had already made a good deal of headway, I was far from ready to reverse direction and analyze how it would be possible to change tracks. While my personality that was aboard the state bandwagon was breaking down, the path I would search for and find with my new identity was full of uncertainties. The socialist state in which I had placed my trust had ceased to be real, but it would have been beneath me to take refuge in the capitalist state. The fact that my relationship with the Syrian state had been tactical from the outset made it possible for me to endure it. It was too late to go to the mountains in Kurdistan, and I couldn’t really see the results of my efforts. In a way, I felt I had been betrayed. With a heavy heart due to these thoughts and feelings, I was feeling aggrieved as I set out on the twisted road of my Athens and Europe adventure.

When I first ran toward the state, I was excited. I had learned by rote. It was all about developing a rank and file. Religion and faith had turned into rank and money. A revolutionary attitude allowed me to overcome this personality. But even my revolutionary attitude worked in tandem with a statist personality. An authority that was more precise and led by me made that attractive. In fact, I did not run toward a state that was so far away that I could never reach it but toward my own state, a state close to me. It was, in a way, kind of like a search and a struggle for a new religion, a new nationality. My flight to Diyarbakır and my march to Syria and to Lebanon stoked my passion for our own national state. The inspiration I drew from this was enough to keep me going.

Despite my enormous efforts, I felt that deep down inside I had lost something important. The statist mentality had deprived me of myself. The degeneration that state-centered socialism in particular and revolutionary expression in general experienced at that time also showed up at my front door. My own contradictions would come out into the open when I was faced with the world of ice-cold European calculations of the Athens-Moscow-Rome triad. I could never really be a part of this world, would never fit into the calculations of capitalism, would never get used to Western life. The journey was over. A fairly shallow and grey utopia seemed to be coming to an end. Even as the betrayal was becoming visible on the horizon, I felt numbed. An attentive observer would have been able to detect the Greek intrigue, but I continued to believe in friendship; I had to believe in it. The recent years of my life had been based on this friendship, and I felt that that would be the case until the end. Even if betrayal had come calling and said, “Here I am!” I would have responded, “You are a friend.”

It had been the same with Kesire; actually, this woman revealed herself loudly and clearly. She had sent a message from every fiber of her body: “My name is treason, don’t come near to me.” I responded: “If you are to stay with me, you must be in love with me.” When my love and my friends joined forces and sang the same betrayal songs, I would say, even had to say, “What beautiful, revolutionary, and patriotic songs my lover and my friends are singing.” When the Greek driver on the island of Corfu brought me to the airport in a jeep, he bumped deliberately into the airplane that was about to take me to Kenya.3 I still continued to believe in friendship and was smitten with blindness.

Actually, it was the inevitable bankruptcy of the personality traits that had led me to run toward elementary school, the city, and the state. Everything related to the city and the state in the values that made me who I am needed to crumble and fall. The state had decided to eradicate the state within me. This was the real state, the big state. It was the US and EU state. The capitalist state wanted to be rid of me, even sell me for a profit, were I to reject becoming one of its conventional servants. Given the circumstances, escaping this true master wizard was very difficult. If I managed to get away unscathed—great! However, the Leviathan had surfaced from the sea and shown its teeth.

The Greek state was one of the foremost of the Leviathans. However, I still think that I was correct to act in the spirit of friendship right to the end. This was the most important remaining aspect of my personality, and I wanted to keep it unscathed. Let them have betrayal—friendship would still be mine! Being taken to Kenya was like being thrown into Tartarus, the mythological Greek well of hell. The modern bastards of Zeus did not shy away from committing this sin. And the Africans also nicely followed their orders in this well of hell. I found myself at the border between dream and reality. When I emerged from hell and was chained like Prometheus on the rock of İmralı, I was like a creature that is half human, without it being clear what the other half might be. Enkidu fought great battles but died a terrible death. Hegel took the state for the incarnation of God. The fact that all the gods of the world homed in on me seemed to bind me to the lineage of Prometheus, the half-god, half-human. Even if my heart was eaten a thousand times every day, I had to find the strength to renew it. Even if the ravens were to peck at my brain every day, I still had to find a way to make it work. The society shaped by the city and the state had chewed me up and swallowed me, only to regurgitate me. I, however, had not succeeded in destroying their stomachs. After all, how can the urban statist society and the rural communal society, or, in modern terms, the ecological socialist society, coexist, not in a feigned peace but as a dialectical contradiction? This was the problem I focused on. In my court defense, I have tried to present some results for serious consideration. They offer possible lessons, because they are the fruit of an unsparing life and honest and non deceptive reasoning.

One of the differences between my mother and me concerned my concept of “friendship.” She said that I was deluding myself. She probably found my intense, passionate search for friendship unusual. As she saw it, it did not suit the existing social values. She thought that I might end up alone, while my friends pursued their own interests. This was something that I only belatedly recognized as true. The problem was: How far was it possible to go with friends, including the best and the most devoted? What could we do together? As I saw it, there was no work that we couldn’t complete together, no goal that couldn’t be achieved by our joint efforts. These deeply rooted relationships were another reminder of the relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Such relationships are repeatedly found in history—this is perhaps a requirement of universal dualism. Anyone who wants to achieve great things will need deep friendships. I was already looking for these friendships as a child in the village, and the result was Hasan Bindal. How did the cursed gang get wind of this and work him into their larger conspiracy? I still don’t know the answer to this question. Had they pursued the plot they undertook with my friend with any consistency, they could have shot me dead then. My friend seems to have been a truly great friend after all.4

Kemal Pir was also one of the most important among our friends. It would probably be difficult to find another who was equally attentive and sensitive. However much people may praise him and tell stories about him, it still cannot approach the truth. I think that people still haven’t really understood him or acted upon his legacy. What is important in people like him is not just how they kept themselves alive but also how they cherished and kept their friends alive. I was thus able to make friends. Thousands of them are still alive. But there were also those among them who used and exploited us. Events would show that our friendships were abused in the most sordid way and that this phenomenon was more widespread than we thought. I have always believed in the greatness of my friends. I always thought their greatness would allow them to play a role, because, on the one hand, I had excessive self-confidence, and, on the other hand, I stepped back to give them space, in total disregard of myself. I was not yet able to analyze what the race toward class society, the city, and the state could do to the individual. It seemed so straightforward to simply generalize my own development. I wanted to achieve a community by imagining that the others were like me, thereby ending up being closer to them than they were to themselves. I was very effective at creating unity, even though it is now difficult for me to admit that my mother was right, and I went too far. I should have understood that the world works differently than I thought. The result was that I slid into dogmatism. My absolute belief in principles and in the idea that everything would turn out alright, even though things were not going well, had long since crossed the line into dogma. This mentality also led to black-and-white thinking: either the perfectly good or the infinitely evil. That also probably had to do with remnants of traditional Zoroastrian belief.

On the one hand, this deep-rooted understanding was attractive and helped to organize people. On the other hand, it led me astray by preventing me from seeing the facts as they were. The stagnation in the PKK must also be partly seen as the result of this understanding of mine. Assuming pure black-and-white opposites is not a particularly productive dialectal approach. It leads to a superficial and mechanical way of thinking.

In the end, I also fell victim to this superficial and mechanical way of thinking and departed from a colorful and vivid reasoning that would have been more productive. Superficial dialectics actually amount to dialectical dogmatism. I too was now in the throes of this kind of idealism, which was widespread in real socialism. As a result, a contrast developed between the values of the PKK, which were laden with greatness, heroism, goodness, trueness, and beauty, and everything that was the opposite. It is generally the system’s hollow personalities who profit from contrasting dialectical pairs of this sort. People who had not really become “PKK” in their hearts, but who thought they had, used all its virtues crudely. People who couldn’t even tend to a handful of goats became leaders or guerrilla commanders within the organization, which had never been the intention. Initially, the reason for this was the conviction that friends would handle everything successfully and in the best manner. Later, it became obvious that it was impossible to be more successful than we were with this approach. But we had not yet determined how to develop and reach a new organizational understanding.

The problem runs even deeper. Since the early 1980s, to the best of my abilities I have made a great effort to analyze and transform the individual in a profound way by dissecting Kurdish social reality, but there were individuals with an insistent personality who responded to my attempts by saying, “we are extremely obstinate.” They were not going to give up these traits. Even when their personalities were entirely sucked into the slime of betrayal, infamy, overindulgence, and decadence and were wasted, defeated, and useless, they remained incredibly narcissistic. This was the human reality, but it was an inverted humanity that was totally used up. I literally ground myself like wheat into flour, made bread, and fed them, but still they did not come around to reason. They insisted on their own lives and their so-called way of fighting, but, in reality, they could not really do much. If they were let be, they would literally be like gunpowder that was only sufficient for a single shot.

Even those who were considered excellent militants wouldn’t have been able to survive for more than a year. But I was also extremely obstinate. I wanted to keep them alive at all costs. I put everything else aside and took up the struggle for the lives of this human rubble. I even deceived myself into believing that I was dealing with the finest possible material. This was exactly what my mother had so vehemently criticized me for. She had noticed how I deceived myself at a very young age.

Two unspoiled sons of the Black Sea, Kemal Pir and Haki Karer, threw themselves into my kind of friendship with great enthusiasm. To prevent me from hardship, the two of them headed to Kurdistan before the rest of us, even though they neither knew its language or customs. Unfortunately, it would turn out to be wrong to expect the children of a society that had been the victim of betrayal to have the same psychic sensitivity. None of them worked voluntarily, linking their hearts and minds. For these people, it was as if they were literally caught up in a “matter of honor.” Perhaps they believed they could salvage their honor by doing things in the way they considered correct. Their insistent understanding of honor was worthless. I tried to convey values to them that their family and the state never would. I presented them with everything that would enable them to really preserve their honor. Herein, not working in the way that genuine honor would have demanded was put in front of me as a huge problem. I successfully placed before them the first offensive meant to build the PKK. Any of them could have been a good party member, but they did not condescend to do so. As a consequence, I placed before them the second great offensive meant to build the PKK everywhere, namely, in the mountains and all four parts of Kurdistan, in villages and the cities and abroad. Their heads were aswirl with the possibilities, but they didn’t really want to understand. In the Middle East, in Syria, I never ate or slept comfortably, not even once. Instead, I nurtured more than ten thousand sons and daughters.

I put up with their unbearable insistence on some things so that they could remain free and begin to mature, with their dignity intact. It was only later that I understood that even this incomparable willingness to sacrifice could be misinterpreted. Quite a few fell prey to the delusion that I was living like a king. I still remember this well. Duran Kalkan, who was very self-confident and tried to be a good speaker, was suddenly searching for a telephone to speak with a particular person. The way he talked and handled this relationship could have destroyed all the relationships we had established where we were located in just a few minutes. He probably felt like he was talking “like a revolutionary.” Later on, I observed the same thing about his practice. As much as he genuinely tried and was selfless as he did so, he liquidated everything in sight, and he didn’t even know it. Watching him made clear the way in which the Turkish left destroys itself.5 And Duran is regarded as one the best among us. As for the others, if they were left to their own devices, they would not even be able to feed themselves. That they even stayed alive with a weapon at hand was a miracle. Again, I had to endure the sorrow they caused, but I continued to defy my mother’s observation and hoped to prove that my friends were good people.

If you look a bit deeper into this phenomenon, you will recognize the personality traits of a despotic society that have solidified over the millennia. The subservient personality turns into a slave when at the bottom and a despot when at the top. A large part of the effort I made to analyze this personality type and to motivate it to action would essentially backfire. What these people understood a commander to be reflected the saying, “Give a beggar a horse, and he’ll ride it to death.” They were best at liquidating each other and destroying one another’s work. I know for a fact that, either by design or by deliberate negligence, they were responsible for the loss of hundreds of wonderful comrades.

Their mentality was so base and their hearts were so hardened that it had become routine for them to send comrades they wanted to get rid of to their deaths without even batting an eye. In their activities within the organization, these scheming individuals even went as far as to try to liquidate me. Some of them—the trio of Şahin Baliç, Mehmet Şener, and Cihangır Hazır6—who murdered my childhood friend and neighbor Hasan Bindal as a dry run for assassinating me,7 maliciously camouflaging the affair as an accident, very probably formed certain relationships in the early 1990s, the actual character of which is still unclear. They formed a gang of some sort, but I don’t believe that they were all conscious agents. They probably resorted to conspiratorial methods to seize control of the organization and to act like the beggar in the idiom just mentioned. It was only later that I understood that this was a very widespread practice in the areas where we waged a struggle. Contrary to common belief, the Turkish army did not defeat the guerrilla; it was the treachery of those just described that paralyzed it from within.

I am hesitant to name names, as I have not done the required research sufficiently, but we have lost hundreds of my most heroic friends as martyrs in this way, beginning with Mahsum Korkmaz (Agit). One of the most infamous persons of the sort just mentioned was Şemdin Sakık, who wasn’t simply satisfied with a system of subservience but was one of those best at playing the role of the beggar. Cemil Bayık, one of our most honest leading members, of whom we had high expectations, beyond not being able to hold them accountable, wasn’t even able to prevent the flight of Mehmet Şener, Cihangır Hazır, and Şemdin Sakık. Had it not been for me, these people would have destroyed everyone else with just a few blows. They didn’t even realize what was actually happening. True to the saying “If you can’t kick the master, kick the dog,” they mercilessly held to account those unfortunates they could get a hold of.

Quite frequently, the unscrupulous types who were destroying the organization and the guerrilla were given free reign, while very young adolescents, including Saime Aşkın, who were having difficulty adapting to guerrilla life were punished for disciplinary infractions. She had been a teacher in Urfa and was one of the first to join our group. She was willing to make sacrifices. She was sent abroad and educated. When I heard that she had been sentenced to death in our first camp in Kurdistan, a camp Duran Kalkan and Ali Haydar Kaytan were responsible for, I was very surprised. The explanation was: “She totally upset the whole military discipline and sabotaged everything, so we had to punish her.” I had no choice but to believe what was said—that too was part of discipline. But it was an incident that I placed somewhere in my heart. In my opinion, she should not have been liquidated in this manner, no matter how severe her crime might have been. But I couldn’t do anything to prevent it. My heart had also been frozen by dogmatism (in the real socialist sense). In Russia too statist socialism had murdered its most valuable comrades, including Nikolai Bukharin and Grigory Zinoviev, among others, in just this way.8 Millions of peasants had been killed, and the whole country had been thrown into chaos.

Later, it would become clear that this was not socialism but a barbaric form of capitalism with Russian characteristics. This was actually the mode of being of the Great October Revolution that was betrayed, which had given rise to such high hopes. Just as in many previous great revolutions, the traitors generally got away with murder. History is full of examples, ranging from the followers of Mohammad to those of Jesus. But I think that with this court defense I am presenting a theoretically developed perspective that shows that this must not be treated as fate. I believe I have succeeded in analyzing the personality traits, including my own, that were responsible for this, which provides consolation to certain extent.

Quite obviously, the PKK brought about its own liquidation. Despite all of the heroic deeds, despite courage and a willingness to sacrifice, and despite the pain and the losses we have inevitably suffered in our recent history, this cursed history of ours and the wizards of the capitalist system did not easily allow us to make any real headway in overcoming ourselves and achieving freedom. Even though we applied the methods of national and social liberation of the last two hundred years, our achievements were limited. We did not arrive at an honorable peace. The method I had wanted to try was an offensive under the heading “a democratic solution and peace,” which I hoped would cause at least as much excitement as we had experienced in the mid-1970s. I had expected that those I addressed would react with a high level of understanding and contribute, but because they regarded me as utterly defeated they didn’t take me or my project seriously. They probably even considered it a humiliating undertaking. How painful it is to say that even among those still in the organization, there were quite a few who agreed with this assessment. Some openly accused me of “surrendering to the bourgeoisie.” Most of the other comrades concluded that I had reluctantly reached this point and prepared for the new phase in their own way. Again, sadly but gradually, I realized that there were quite a few who aspired to use the new phase to appropriate our legacy, even though they didn’t know what this legacy was and failed to realize that they were attempting to take advantage of it like degenerate heirs. There was something that each group could take that would secure their survival. I sensed this.

The model I suggested to replace the PKK, which had dissolved itself, was an entity that corresponded to the democratic essence I have sketched. Thus, the KADEK was founded, and after it, the Kongra Gel. I wholeheartedly wanted to develop the content of my defenses to the various courts during my time on İmralı based on the theory and practice of democracy. This is their actual essence, even though I may have only succeeded superficially. With this approach, I hoped to analyze and dissolve the remnants of slavery and despotism in our personalities. A meaningful offensive for democracy among the people could contribute to both a political solution and peace. This period could have provided a favorable opportunity.

While the well-known US post-9/11 offensive stopped the steps that could have been expected from Turkey, at the same time it turned out that the behavior displayed in the name of the KADEK was not oriented toward a solution. The people involved didn’t understand that the struggle for democracy and peace is harder than a “hot” military battle. They proved utterly unable to understand that peace was a lot more difficult than war, required a focused effort, and could only work if accompanied by a massive democratic organization and action.

When the DSP-ANAP-MHP coalition government under the leadership of Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit, a man who was living in his own dream world, was overthrown,9 the coalition working under the collective name AKP shrewdly profited from the historical vacuum and took the road to becoming the government. Leftists and social democrats proved unable to understand and interpret what was happening. Unfortunately, the KADEK and later the Kongra Gel didn’t fare any better. Even worse, I came to recognize that they had their own calculations about the democratic efforts I was making amid great difficulty. Then one day, under aggravated isolation conditions, I learned with great difficulty that the Kongra Gel had two opposing groups, led by Osman Öcalan and Cemil Bayık respectively, and had completely paralyzed itself before it could even take its first steps. Factions within a movement are only legitimate to the extent that they can concretely develop things. Otherwise, regardless of how well-meaning those involved may be, they cannot avoid their activities being evaluated as mischief and scheming intrigue. They—including these recent factional groups—are illegitimate, because they have once again blocked the general struggle and led to its liquidation. Our history has already shown us this reality.

While those who encompassed the remnants of the Middle Ages within the Turkish state were trying to go on the offensive using dubious pretensions of democracy, the representatives of the remnants of the Middle Ages in the PKK didn’t even deem a “simulated democracy” necessary. In the pasha tradition, they went straight for the conquest of power. There were tendencies on both sides that were not simply undemocratic but were far more backward than the population in general and destroyed all of our democratic efforts by insisting on acting on their reactionary passions. To be honest, after seeing the games played by both sides during the municipal elections, I felt violated and made it clear that I would resist.10 I openly declared that I would not tolerate the distortion of my democratic offensive, and that to at least safeguard my honor I would thwart any such effort and those acting recklessly. When I began to work on this defense, it became clear that the EU was also part of this game, and that I had to provide an exhaustive response. When the US-instigated Iraq War was launched, it became even more pressing to write a historical “Democratic Defense.”

The People’s Congress model was in many ways solution-oriented. It was meant to simultaneously solve the state question by democratization and to offer suitable solutions for approaching the problems of the freedom and the equality of the people in the framework of this democratization process. At the same time, it might have been able to solve the problems of personality with education and an exemplary democratic practice. The democratic people’s congress was clearly a more suitable way to overcome the dead end of modern revolutions. It may appear simple, but a truly democratic behavior can be defined as the most important virtue, both historically and in our day. Instead of “solving” problems with advanced technology and war, leading to mass destruction, democracy—with its highly educational aspect—could bring about the most humane solution possible, thereby achieving peace and improving the quality of life for people in all of their diversity. The criticism that this is not tough enough, because no blood is shed, or that this doesn’t correspond to the military balance of power, is not particularly ethical and, therefore, has no human value.

Even though these profound democratic efforts around the question of Kurdistan may appear like simple steps, they are necessary if we hope to bring about more durable and definitive long-term solutions and to dissuade the states from resorting to the meaningless practice of force. They could contribute much to the offensive for democracy that the Middle East so urgently needs. I have explained the historical basis for this both here and in other works. Beyond that, this course would not have excluded armed self-defense until a durable peace was reached. Those under attack could have exerted their legitimate right of self-defense when necessary in all fields and against antidemocratic practices, ensuring the quantitative and qualitative reinforcements necessary for the purpose. By overcoming the narrow, authoritarian, state-oriented party culture, they could have acquired the qualities necessary for the democratic action of the people. In this way, the transformation of the personality and the democratic formation of society could have become a mutually interwoven process. The potential cadres had been given the theoretical and practical resources, as well as methods and schemata. Had they comprehended their essence and been gripped and moved by love for democracy, every activist would have had work to accomplish. When the expected development doesn’t occur, dialectics favor its opposite. At critical moments, politics doesn’t tolerate a vacuum. At a time when the collaborationist Kurds are undertaking important forays in an alliance with the US, those who were supposed to succeed on behalf of the people have turned their historical shortcomings and their apolitical perspective and intentions, based on narrow grouping and individualistic horizons, into a problem.

Their peasantism meant that they were unaware that they had become entangled in a false power game. Those who cannot muster the strength for historical steps will turn to family disputes instead. Even though the accumulated problems should have been solved in a way that would have brought about positive external developments, the calculation of who was to get what from the family estate would be made at critical moments. The dangerous situation I am in at the moment makes these calculations even more important. Those who are unable to organize a real political and military army relied on forming their own coteries. They controlled a significant amount of material and talent. Did they care about all of the historical labor that went into this, the pain and the blood that has been shed, the hunger used to discipline the people in incredible ways, and the imprisonment of thousands of comrades? None of this seemed all that important to them; they provided a cheap pretext to “explain” why there had been no progress. This is how the first phase of the Kongra Gel unfolded. Of course, this situation came naturally to those who hadn’t been living up to their task for years, but they were unable to understand that the legacy of the PKK would not tolerate their approach, thereby reminding them once again of the reality they found themselves in.

It was against this backdrop that I issued my warning. From the outset, I have never enjoyed exercising power and authority, but I have been very sensitive when it comes to doing good work. For me, it has been a question of belief and the conviction that I must not under any circumstances distance myself from certain very central tasks essential for the people. I have often warned: “the Kurdish people have a few values that they will be able to protect as long as they follow my line.” Anyone who ignored this warning would sooner or later have their efforts end in utter failure. It is time that some inside and outside the organization understand that this is their situation.

Whether or not there are groups around Osman Öcalan and Cemil Bayık is not something I take particularly seriously. I would even pray for the emergence of groups that are strong enough to be able to liquidate me first. I wish they had strong groups that aspired to come to power. I would congratulate them if they hit their enemies really hard, and me even harder! On the other hand, if such groups really exist it is also inevitable that they will all, knowingly or unknowingly, lead to flight and liquidation, and that makes whether one of them is bigger than another fairly unimportant, because such a phase is itself a setback, a waste of time and energy, and an affront to dignity.

For me, the more interesting thing is that in their dispute the conten-tion between them is superficial, while they are not aware that I am their actual target—regardless of whether the alleged issue is Osman’s surname or the behavior of the other group—based on their demeanor that has reached me even here. More precisely, as we have experienced in many similar cases, they showed their reaction against me by forming two bogus groups with some phony praxis. It is impossible to act directly against me at the present stage. To do so would require them to flee, and that is not in their interest. So they have had to carry out their struggle with me indirectly, albeit passionately. Because they have swallowed the anger that has been building up within them for years, which they would have liked to unleash upon me, it was necessary for them to find a way to blow off steam. It was a simple peasant-like settlement of scores. They need to concede that my understanding of what is going on is not mistaken. If all this is not true and they are sincere, they can only prove that by taking on their historical responsibilities despite all of internal and external provocations and intrigue. If their ambition and rage are rooted in noble motives, it will probably be the primary attitude of each and every comrade claiming to be sincere to successfully complete their duties as the people and comrades expect of them. I want to stress once more that we recognize that this is their right, and if both sides do not fully understand the depth of what is happening, I’d be happy to explain it again.

I must once again note that, for me, both groups are basically the same and the formal differences between them are not very important. Now I want to say a few things about that. Should there be mistakes in my interpretation due to a serious lack of knowledge of the situation, I will, of course, not hesitate to correct them to prevent a shadow from being cast on the reputation of my friends. I am, after all, someone who constantly engages in self-critique.

I have thought much about these groups and similar deviations, which appear to reflect adverse reactions against each other, even though these reactions are actually directed against genuine leadership. The history of our movement is the history of our social reality, which is characterized by an inability to achieve unity and to establish self-management, with senseless and toxic disputes between various tendencies being routine. These events are nurtured by this culture. Forming groups is the first reflex of those whose individualism and self-interest have gained the upper hand. They try to bring some part of the movement under their control. The historical success of our organizational efforts is linked to overcoming the effects of this culture. This kind of behavior dovetails with the tendency in our society to make small talk devoid of content and to display primitive caprice and unpolitical behavior. We could talk at length about the objective basis for this behavior, and I have already analyzed these issues in detail.

I still remember that many of those who have left the organization complained, “The PKK is stealing our lives.” Both in prison and outside, those who made attempts at liquidation made such claims. Of course, a leadership that wants to save its people and liberate its land must steer clear of egotistical and narrow social aims and utilize the life of the comrades-in-arms responsibly toward elevated and liberating goals. Any other kind of organization and leadership is simply impossible. In this connection, their talk about “social life” is a means to an end.11

We have to understand that those who fail in the political and military aspects of their lives will also be unable to organize their social lives, and that even if they could theirs would be lives of alienation. If we are to analyze our life and work based on genuine heroism and the dignity of freedom, I am not sure whether having a social life, a family, a partner, and children will be truly meaningful for those who cannot attain a minimum level of success in their struggle. Committed fighters must never forget this. If they do, they must find another way to define themselves.

It is well known that as a leader I have always put a lot of energy into avoiding familism. It was me who most thoroughly criticized and stood against Osman Öcalan’s recognized tendencies. It is, therefore, quite interesting that some are making the effort to get rid of what they call “Öcalanism,” both within and outside the organization, on the pretext of even the slightest mistake I make or by using Osman against me to this end. For example, one person wrote in a newspaper: “The left will not be able to advance if it doesn’t liberate itself from Kemalism and Öcalanism.” Those who have written such things are also those who live their lives in the most egotistical way. They are hoodlums and heedless. If they had the strength to live like I do for even a single day, I would willingly and immediately hand my entire legacy over to these crooks. They are so myopic and heedless that they do not even see that without us they would be deprived of their right to life.

It is well known that Osman Öcalan, with all his flaws, has created major difficulties for both the movement and myself for a long time now. Since the 1980s, he has been unable to keep up with the developments. He has stagnated at an emotional level and has never really deepened his theoretical knowledge. What he tried to achieve by the rule of thumb was anything but successful. He was superficial and easily duped. What he experienced in the traitorous war of the South Kurdish forces in 1992 was the result of his helplessness.12 If countermeasures had not been taken, he would have become Talabani’s plaything. In objective terms, what he did saved Cemil Bayık and Murat Karayılan’s groups from destruction. My thinking was that rather than lose everything, it would better to salvage those values that could be saved.

The result of Osman’s trial is well known.13 At the time, I tried to address the problem of familism in a thoroughgoing manner. He regained his composure and began to make some progress. He had an understanding of politics in the narrower sense, but since he possessed no theoretical depth, there was always a likelihood that he would provoke dangerous situations—as could be expected, given his personality. He could have played a very beneficial role if the central committee had dealt with him intelligently. This would have required a very political and cautious approach. I would imagine that the relationship with the US that he entered into recently is quite similar to his previous relationship with Talabani. This was an area in which one is prone to making errors. He could have been useful in these relationships if he had been under tighter control. Of course, he should never have been given full authority in any of this. That, in any case, is how I would have handled the matter. I don’t think he entered into a relationship with the US entirely on his own.14 I think it is inevitable that he had direct and indirect associates.

The second thing we know is that he wanted “to lead a contemporary life, marry, engage in politics, give the greatest weight to the South,” etc. I know these inclinations well. While he may not have had bad intentions, just as in 1992, he failed by a long shot to achieve anything, as the behavior of Turkey and the US indicates. In 1992, I had no faith in a diplomatic process. When Özal showed tendencies in this direction in 1993, I said, “childish mistakes.” We know what became of him.15 A decade later, I was asking myself how a dialogue that failed to produce any progress on İmralı Island would proceed in Iraq. That said, I am not opposed to using any opportunity that offers itself. Politics requires that we always try to establish diplomatic and political relationships with Iran, Syria, the US, the PUK (Yekîtiya Nîştimanî ya Kurdistanê: Patriotic Union of Kurdistan), and the PDK (Partiya Demokrat a Kurdistanê: Kurdistan Democratic Party) whenever possible, as long as these relations don’t result in capitulation or seeking shelter under their roof. The fundamental precondition, however, is reliable and viable bases in the country itself.16

If I am to express my opinions in this way, it is also necessary for me to elaborate on the topics of “contemporary life and marriage.” If this were just a social or biological question, I would not expand upon it very much. It has, however, serious political consequences, as well as implications for our actions. Therefore, it is also a question that I am personally interested in.

I perceived an approach that frames my position regarding the questions of social life and women as inadequate and faulty. That is an extremely ignorant position that risks overlooking a far-reaching struggle that is currently unfolding, as well as being egocentric in a lowbrow way. In order to respond to perceptions that might arise, as I embarked on writing this court defense, I reminded everyone that I have struggled for sociality in my environment since the age of seven—only a lack of knowledge or and unjustified rejection could be behind the inability to evaluate this properly. To speak of a “contemporary social life” is, in fact, a war against me, because I demonstrated the courage to struggle against the sociality of my mother since the age of seven. This is a war that isn’t simply social in nature; it is also political. To demonstrate what I mean, I discussed the example of Kesire in detail. Not understanding my approach to women’s freedom struggle is a loss not only for the PKK but for our times. I see myself as a person that wages the greatest struggle for women’s freedom in our time. In this regard, I am very confident. I don’t think that anyone has analyzed the social, political, and military relations surrounding women as profoundly as I have. This is true for sociologists but also for lovers, soldiers, and politicians. I must admit that I have hindered the first love and affection of my very brave young men and women comrades, but as a result I have brought about incredible practical achievements and theoretical breakthroughs. I will elaborate on the formula for this.

Let me add a few things to what I have already addressed in detail in other chapters. My struggle with my mother was the traditional struggle about “honor” that is specific to the Middle East. I have shown how to separate this concept of “honor” from its vulgar and simple sexual context and how to give it a new meaning in the context of society, politics, and war. The result of this is that women were the first class, first sex, and first nation ever oppressed and exploited. It is perfectly clear that no democratic socialist struggle can achieve its goal if it is not predicated on the freedom of women as a sex, a class, and a nation. Marriage, sexuality, and romantic relationships in Kurdish society will be without value if they are not based on the freedom and equality of women and do not theoretically and practically lead to a development. I will repeat as often as necessary that without this these relationships are no different from “prostitution in private and public homes.” For me, the promise made to a woman and the friendship offered implies a deep philosophical, historical, and social understanding and entails a practical commitment to freedom, equality, and patriotism. What a pity that you do not realize that I have not only worked out a true theory of love but am waging a great battle for it!

I consider it an indispensable requirement of freedom, war, equality, and democracy to leave the environment open to love within our ranks. Democracy, freedom, equality, and patriotism cannot develop in an environment that is not open to love. No honorable cause of the people can be achieved in the absence of the great advancement of women. Freedom of women is our movement’s foremost value. Furthermore, the women’s movement is one of the most fundamental aspects of the social revolutions that are experiencing new developments everywhere in the world. Women’s revolution is a revolution within the revolution. To understand women who are becoming free is to understand history, society, and life anew. One of our main tasks is to end women’s position as objects of extreme commodification not only by religious-feudal reaction but by capitalism as well. Moreover, one of our fundamental tasks is to free ourselves from dominant male morality and marriages laden with feudal and capitalist values.

I don’t think it’s necessary to elaborate any further. Women must play their role by making use of the PAJK. My use of mythology in my analyses above, with references to goddesses, angels, and Aphrodites, essentially expresses their rebellion against the five-thousand-year-old dominant male culture. This culture has placed women in a terrible position. One of the worst threats women face is the institution of marriage, which is a relationship that turns women into property. Without women’s freedom, we will be unable to develop a truly meaningful and valuable free life worth living. Women must lead a far-reaching struggle. Without this struggle, patriotism and equality cannot be developed. Contrary to popular opinion, love absolutely requires a sociological theory and practice of its own and cannot simply be reduced to passion between two individuals.

Love calls for great bravery, victory, and affection. Those who can’t achieve victory will also be unable to love. The face of love is always turned toward the victorious struggle for freedom. This is how I would define being the laborer of love that I strive to be.

Of course, I know that humans as individuals are divided into two sexes, but we are at war, and the conquerors have taken everything from us, and as a result there are no women left who we could call “our women.” The existing women have been turned into commodities, little more than cheap household articles. Men having relationships with these women while fighting for freedom is essentially contradictory. For women striving for freedom, a relationship with this type of men represents even more of a contradiction. Ever since Plato it has been said that the important thing is to perpetuate oneself through ideas. The perpetuation of physical existence is based on sexual instinct. I know of this sexual instinct—it is the only way left for our people to perpetuate itself, and that has caused huge problems. What matters is the perpetuation of the lineage of ideas, but that requires major social and philosophical struggles. Consequently, those who do not succeed in developing revolutionary love can always turn to women with head scarfs—something that is also widely discussed in Turkey. Servile marriages with women who stay in their homes are permissible as long as the men do not betray their duties and these attitudes are not carried over to the political and military areas. I repeat: these marriages are like marriages within the system and must not be allowed to encroach on the political and military areas. If that were to happen it would throw the door wide open to the enslaving effects of the feudal and capitalist ways of life. This does not happen even in the system’s armies.

What happens in our revolution is even more important, in fact, it is historic. The concept of becoming goddesses, angels, and Aphrodites, which I suggested to a group of female comrades, is part of the battle against the horrific culture of women’s enslavement in the Middle East.

At this point in history, we need women of such lineage. Hundreds of them have already proven this with their heroic demeanor and their martyrdom. Our memory of them is very important to us. I believe there are still many brave women among us. Personalities of great courage, justice, and love are just beginning to emerge. Women are re-creating their own personalities by providing excellent examples of the connection between emotional and analytical intelligence. This is a very meaningful historical turning point. Even I did not and could not dare to be in possession of women with such an essence, let alone to housewifize them with a system-like attitude. We can never do enough to facilitate women becoming stronger. They already represent collective love. There are many highly qualified male and female comrades we can be proud of, but, even so, I don’t think that privatized affection will be very helpful at this stage. Once peace is achieved, there will undoubtedly be free marriages, but the marriages of many comrades, myself included, have shown in practice how difficult it is to live free relationships under the current conditions, particularly in war zones.

I do not know the background of Osman’s marriage to a woman from Iran.17 Perhaps it is politically significant, or perhaps it is a marriage of simple passions, but presenting and promoting this sort of marriage within our troops as a requirement of contemporary life is extremely dangerous. The fact that he has even dared to do such a thing is in itself dangerous. In the past, the spread of such tendencies literally destroyed some groups on the Turkish left. Therefore, I repeat: anyone who wants to be married like a peasant, an urbanite, or a petit bourgeois, can do so with the permission of the organization provided that they remain duly committed to their tasks and do not turn it into a political issue. But this cannot be an arbitrary or individual decision. This is not the time for the mere physical continuation of one’s lineage but is, above all, the time to carry our intellectual, political, and patriotic ideals to victory. As long as the minimal conditions for this have not been realized, being a husband or a wife, having children, and love will just lead to trouble. I have nothing but the highest respect for love, but I’m clearly saying “no” to self-deception that lacks the necessary philosophy and practice. I think that practical developments within the framework of these concepts will lead to greater freedom and pave the way for the true affection and love we all long for.

Theories based on “contemporary life” and becoming refugees in South Kurdistan are not meaningful. Life in extraordinary times is called a revolutionary life. Becoming refugees is dangerous in every respect. For children, the elderly, and some women, it makes sense to talk about a life as ordinary refugees, and the Makhmur encampment could be called a refugee camp. But being absorbed by the Kurds in Iraq will not serve either those who are engaged in private relationships or the general movement. Had we accepted life as refugees in Syria, what happened to us in the end would not have happened. I don’t know whether or not these issues have been discussed, but the movement’s views and practice in similar cases are well known. For Osman Öcalan and the group around him, the only honorable path is to respect the discipline of the Kongra Gel. If, however, they are preparing to sell out and desert the noble values of the movement, we know full well how that will end. It is vital that they take all the steps necessary to be successful.18 Neither suicidal outbursts nor fleeing and taking shelter with any particular power are acceptable conduct. If I had more detailed information, I could say something more precise about these matters.

I don’t know to which extent Cemil Bayık, Duran Kalkan, and Rıza Altun have formed a group. It seems Rıza’s activities in Europe weren’t terribly productive. I don’t know whether he has intervened in the DEHAP, but it doesn’t look as if he has contributed much to democratization. I don’t take the claims about a coup seriously,19 but the objective situation creates the impression that they have been acting as a group for some time now. In the end, having two such groups in the leadership must have been very unproductive and worn everyone out. Where would it have led had they simply been left to themselves? At this critical point, it would have probably been the most correct and expected attitude if a collective intensity had formed in the committees of the congress and in the executive leadership to take care of the most important tasks. Time was squandered as a result of backward positions, and that had a negative effect on our people and on us. They did not behave in a way worthy of the promises they made during critique and self-critique. Most probably there will be a correct evaluation of events that took place in the congress, and an example of their steadiness will be shown by giving their critique and self-critique.20

I want to emphasize the need for sincere and consistent self-critique. This is how a true PKK member evolves. My attitude on this topic is well known. The best thing to do would be to reconstruct the PKK. Overcoming the behavior that brought the PKK to a standstill and those impeding its renewal will be tantamount to a rebirth. With historical phases comes historical tasks. Those who see them through earn a well-deserved place of honor in the memory of the people and of humanity.

It is important to correctly understand the most recent period of my life well. Generally, the misinterpretation of my life by my friends causes them to make major errors and to squander opportunities. Such superficial behavior should be abandoned at all costs, because it does not contribute in any way to one’s own person. Let’s think of Kemal Pir’s approach once again. Keeping the memory of Kemal Pir alive is particularly a task for those who have been released from prison. Of course, he is also a symbol for all his friends. There are thousands of others with similar noble values. For those who are even one-tenth worthy of them, there is no task that will prove too difficult. Nothing in the world other than meaningful achievements can absolve those friends who are in conditions of freedom. It is time to think big, to act nobly, and to achieve meaningful results.

As you know, I have spent just as much time preparing for peace as I spent preparing for the phase that began on August 15, 1984. Peace requires at least as much endurance and theoretical knowledge as war. It is definitely not a task that should be taken lightly. In reality, there are more difficulties associated with peace than with war. I was very careful to take a balanced approach to the various states, as well as to our movement. I hope that necessary lessons are learned from what is taking place in Syria right now.21 What has become of our relationships, which we built despite all odds and with the proverbial care of a goldsmith! The same can be said about the activities in Europe, and even about the democratic peace efforts in Turkey. That people behave as if defeat were their fate is, in fact, the result of the actions of the formerly discussed diseased personalities. When we began, we were at point zero, but we passed the flag to you after we had run half the race and victory was in sight. Your response to this is effectively: “we stumbled and fell.” It is not a dismal life that is the problem. The remorse of people who don’t understand anything doesn’t mean very much. What is important are the noble successes of a dismal life. If that does not happen, even if you have grown old, what good is it? What shall befit you is to find a way to gain some reward for your labor, that you take what you feel entitled to from your competitors, your friends, and even your comrades. The most befitting and expected attitude from all of you is for you to shake off my enchanting aura and attain a successful breakthrough in the areas of freedom. Let me very clearly say that it was a comradely gesture on your part to stand behind my past peace efforts with Turkey under the most favorable conditions. However, the conditions I find myself in now and the fact that the state hasn’t taken the historical steps that it should have represent a great loss. Since 9/11, the state has fallen silent. I think the developments in South Kurdistan came as a shock; it is still unclear what the outcome will be. The state simply can’t seem to get past its policy of cooperating with the US when addressing anything. The loyalty to the US is just incredible. Since 1950, everything the state has done has been with US sponsorship. The US gave the green light, and the blackest forms of fascism were implemented. Nowadays, a system is being created in which black is replaced by green, but the character of that “green” is not yet clear. It is inevitable that Turkey will move toward a new balance of power. Without a solution to the Kurdish question, Turkey will find it even more difficult than was the case after the World War I to turn the balance of power to its advantage. It is very likely that if it continues to devote all of its energy to a discourse centered on the concept of “PKK terrorists,” this policy will backfire just as its South Kurdistan policy did. As you know, we have persistently insisted that for Turkey to come out of the chaos of the Middle East stronger requires a democratic resolution of the Kurdish question. But this was perceived as a sign of weakness or was considered a tactical ploy. The state placed its bets on the US support and on splitting our movement. For some reason, these forces can’t free themselves from the idea that the military path is sacred. I do not yet know how, together with the US, they plan to clamp down on you, but we do know how they clamped down on me, and I hope that you continue to draw the necessary conclusions from this. I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be any relationship with the US, but it has become clear that the kind of relationship that is accredited to Osman is not meaningful.

After the congress, in keeping with the necessary decisions that you will have taken, you will probably engage with Turkey with one voice, reminding it of its responsibilities. Turkey prefers this approach.

At this point, I’d like to once again say a few words about my situation.Unfortunately, I must say in advance that if things continue as they are, we will be faced with wars that absolutely outdo the one that followed August 15, 1984. My sentience will not be sufficient to prevent this from happening. The powers that be do not want me to play a role. Perhaps there is even a plan for a war that will totally destroy you. That is to say, the state might simply insist on war. The atmosphere spread by the AKP government is no better than that promoted by Tansu Çiller’s government. It is extremely negative and callous. The prime minister said, “If you don’t describe yourselves as Kurds, there is no Kurdish question.” The provocations in Siirt are intolerable. This government is doing everything the MHP could not do. We must really ask ourselves what plans it may have made with a handful of primitive Kurdish nationalist traitors.

If a coherent, democratic, and peaceful step is not openly taken, you will be faced with a comprehensive war calculated to liquidate you. I have warned the prime minister with letters and messages, but these have not been taken at all seriously. I have mustered all my strength, and in the court defense before you have presented the line we must adopt to achieve a peaceful and democratic unity advantageous to all. I am perfectly well aware that I am presenting it not just to you but to the state authorities as well. This is not because I am tired and battle-weary, but because the situation does not make sense; it appears that you and the state will have to settle accounts once again. Neither side should count on me continuing to take responsibility for all of this, because that wears me down in the extreme.

If I wasn’t strong-willed, I could engage in all kinds of provocation. I have been patient and hoped for developments to resolve things, not because I was afraid but because of the incomprehension I was faced with. At this point, it doesn’t make any sense to carry on under the threat of death, although I don’t think it would be meaningful to sacrifice myself before exploring all potential avenues. The important thing is to understand what the task is. I do not shrink from death for even a second. Death is only bitter if it isn’t timely. Timely deaths are invaluable. I don’t mean to suggest that I’m ready to sacrifice myself. Many scoundrels did not believe I would be able to persevere for so many years. Given their political interests, some political camps have long been waiting for my end. Perhaps the state also wanted to test how I would hold up under the circumstances. The former secretary of the National Security Council, Tuncer Kılınç, said something like, “We implement a system against him that cannot be remedied. We didn’t kill him once; we kill him every day.” But I have endured. And, if necessary, I will endure another six years. But that is not terribly relevant. I was able to endure it pretty well—not just in terms of the length of time but also in terms of meaning and content. I am extraordinarily aware of how to act responsibly. If anything more befalls me, I will do so again. More than that is simply impossible.

I want to tell you about a deep-seated conviction of mine regarding all of you. The overall goal of my cadre policy was to prioritize that you have long lives. I truly believed that the conditions you would find yourselves in would teach you many things, a belief that you know very well turned out not to be very realistic. There was too much irresponsible behavior. You neither achieved my objectives nor your own. And my role in this has always been decisive. Most of you are pretty old by now. In my opinion, you haven’t developed your talents to their actual potential. You should ask yourselves why that is. Here too my excessive support and the fact that I handed you so many things on a silver platter played a huge role. But what was really dangerous was the fact that you completely lost all direction, relinquished many values, and deserted the people at your side, particularly the young people and the comrades, to annihilation, degeneration, and ineffectiveness. It has always angered me that you did not adequately embrace the efforts that were undertaken to achieve a dignified life. I demanded that you and our people would behave in a truly disciplined way on the road to a contemporary and free life, instead of making yourselves comfortable in the existing situation, living shabby lives and losing easily. That kind of discipline was necessary, but your reactions, which I find difficult to explain, have been very conservative and have pulled us backward.

In reality, I didn’t actually expect total ideological and political agreement, but I did expect and longed for you to engage in a practice that would at least save your own dignity. You know perfectly well how you reacted, particularly the top leadership. The young people also failed to survive and achieve the successes they had promised they would. You know that this undercut the effectiveness of my work. I should have immediately moved to the mountains when I began to sense this. Had I known how you would develop, I would have been the first to move to the mountainous areas of our land in the early 1980s. Most of the facts had come to the light by the early 1990s, and I should have come to the mountains at that point. Today I see it as a major error that I didn’t. I didn’t because I wanted protect you, whom I regarded as my friends, and nurture your talents in a sustained way. Even if I wanted to, at this point, I can no longer help you in the way I previously did, keeping you alive and providing you with direction. That would make no sense. If you really understood dignity in the way Kemal Pir did, your long experience and your deep understanding of things would leave you free to settle the historical accounts with the elements and structures that insist on incomprehension, injustice, and a situation offering no solution. This is your right and duty. We must absolve all that we owe to one another. But, even so, the most important thing in war and peace is the attainment of the right to a free life. We must never pursue a senseless practice of “kill or be killed,” although it can make sense to die or to kill in pursuit of great historical achievements. As Kemal Pir noted, even that kind of death and killing takes place only because you love a dignified life and to earn it.22

Some of you may be brave warriors. I tried to slow those of you who are. Some of you could have easily died, but I held you back. I opposed any undertaking that didn’t have a chance of succeeding. You, on the other hand, prevented many things I wanted. In short, neither of us has been as successful as we deserved to be. Most of you have grey hair now. You have gathered a lot of experience. If you seriously turn all of this into a question of honor, you still have a great chance of success. At the very least, you could avoid becoming refugees. However, after tens of thousands have already become martyrs, it seems unlikely that you will leave, preferring a degenerate life. Even if I were to demand it, you would curse all forms of degeneration and insist on a free life—even if only partially—on your own land. Nobody, including me, can enforce such decisions from the outside. They depend on your free will and your determination. Because I presumed this to be the case, I have used this court defense to develop the unequivocal formula “one state + one democracy” to be developed in each part of Kurdistan. On August 15, 1984, we said that none of the states should remain standing. That was unrealistic and did not correspond to our true nature. Even if the conquering states had actually disappeared, they would simply have been replaced by a Kurdish state that would have exercised its own domination, and the formula “one state + one democracy” would still have been necessary. Just as a state has no religion, I also believe that it doesn’t have a nationality. It is always a coalition of minority interests.

An Arab, Iranian, or Turkish state is only a matter of appearance or a conjunctural approach. Its essence is quite different, and it has the character I have addressed in detail in this court defense. Regardless of nationality, as long as they exist through the organization they call the state, we will exist by virtue of our democracy. In particular local democracies need to be our most fundamental areas of existence. When necessary, we will defend those areas from our mountains. Wherever our people are, our democratic units will also be. If accepted, they will be legal, if not, semi-legal or illegal. At this point, the question arises: Is this even possible? It must be possible, because there is no other option. Put another way, other than death or the realization of our democracy there are no other options.

If states really want reconciliation, they will do what is necessary. If not, a struggle to the very end is also a way to improve life. We must approach our work with conviction and the knowledge that building democracy is foundational work. I have written about the theory and practice of all this in considerable detail. It is possible for us to strengthen ourselves both quantitatively and qualitatively, at least in those areas in the country where you can establish a base, protect yourselves, and successfully sustain your defense. The people also no longer have any other option. The absolute authority understanding of the states necessitates the democratic authority of the people. The powers that be do not even want to understand the era we are living in. All they understand is the blind application of the formula: “the ruling state and the ruling nation are everything, and the Kurds are nothing.” As I just pointed out, it is inevitable this formula will be proven wrong and replaced with the correct formula. You can certainly understand that this offensive will bring with it a whole series of innovations, and that you are in a position to develop your tactics and strategies accordingly.

This constitutes a summary of my thoughts about the new phase. I do not know what position you and the states concerned will adopt. What matters is that I have comprehensively responded to all of the expectations people might have in me. I have no doubt that I have done so in a very mature way. With any other approach than the one outlined here, all of the states will find themselves in the same situation as Iraq under Saddam Hussein in the long run. We really have to understand the role of the Kurds organized by Saddam. It must be understood that there are also other possible options. Turkey, Syria, and Iran believe they are in a very strong position in their dealings with the Kurds. This may be so. However, it doesn’t remove the danger; it actually provokes it. Saddam’s stubbornness was not helpful, and the stubbornness of these three states is even greater than his. They refuse to learn anything from the chaos in the Middle East. They venerate positions and power in the extreme. They put an enormous amount of trust in the weakness of the Kurds. This makes me really angry, because it is not in the genuine interest of any people or any country. Moreover, it is simply stupid of them to indulge in the oppression of the Kurds. To regard you as a rogue mob or as terrorists is a catastrophic error. A wounded snake is bound to bite. I really do not understand what they think they are doing.

Some of you will not capitulate but will flourish at war. After all, you won’t act like dunces forever. If you manage to use your extensive experience and perseverance, you only need three hundred guerrillas to deal with any state. This needs to be well thought through and must be explained to the states concerned. Before waging a comprehensive war, you should establish everything from the criteria for a bilateral ceasefire to the rules of war. You should work out statutes for local government and establish their link to yourselves, prepare guidelines for mutual retaliation and grounds for arrests, and these war and peace rules should be presented to both sides and announced to the people. This was something that was missing on August 15, 1984. I would very much have liked to resolve the problems through a process of democratic action, but at the moment democracy and its operating principles count for nothing. So the burden of doing all of this again falls on the mountains.

I am tempted to once more say that history and the gods prefer this course, but this would smack too much of the old belief in fate. I also do not know whether you will kill or be immediately killed. History has arrived at a juncture where a decision must be made between a democratic and peaceful step or a comprehensive democratic and combative step. You can also warn the US and Iran about the situation. They are major states, and perhaps they will suggest a way forward. But if they insist on war, you must demonstrate your decisive moves one after another and believe that you are strong enough to bear the consequences.

As a result, in the coming period there are three options with a variety of complex forms that will fight for dominance in the chaos of the Middle East.

First is the conqueror’s state tradition related to the policies regarding Kurdistan, which aim at maintaining the status quo. The existing system will resist the aspects of this new phase that bring about change, regardless of whether they are the result of internal or external dynamics. They will try to deny the existence of the Kurds, and if this doesn’t work to fob them off with miniscule concessions. But most of all, they will also make ample use of the stick to beat the Kurds over the head. The Arab, Iranian, and Turkish representatives of the status quo will probably try to strengthen their alliance.

For their part, the US, the EU, and Israel will support primitive Kurdish nationalism in all parts of Kurdistan and insist on a federal status. Cyprus is the trial run for this approach, and Palestine and Kurdistan will have their turn. They will gradually try to establish this model all over the Middle East. The regional states representing the status quo will resist this and may well make use of their traditional influence and arm the collaborationist Kurdish militia to an even greater degree. There is a possibility that the Turkish Republic will further extend the policy that it has already used with Barzani and Talabani.23 Within the AKP, primitive Kurdish nationalism in North Kurdistan has been ceded a role behind a Naqshbandi mask. This is how we must understand people like Cüneyd Zapsu, Abdülmelik Fırat, Hüseyin Çelik, Zeki Ergezen, Mücahit Can, Mustafa Zeydan, Zülfikar İzol from Siverek, and others. They will turn out to be covert, semifeudal, and semicomprador primitive Kurdish nationalists. The local elections made this clear. Those who shouted the slogan “İdris Bitlisi is here, where is Yavuz?” summarized this quite succinctly.24 New Islamic Kurdish figures for the Middle East in general are probably already being prepared abroad, particularly in the US. What Fethullah Gülen is for the Turks, Cüneyd Zapsu and Abdülmelik Fırat are for the Kurds. They represent the Kurdish-Islamic synthesis. They are striving to become a pro-Western form of the Middle East’s Hezbollah. They are the Kurdish version of the “Idealists.”25

Turkey has come under the influence of two currents of the Naqshbandi order. When Prime Minister Erdoğan said, “If you don’t describe yourselves as Kurds, there is no Kurdish question,” it called to mind their deceptive policies, which he also uses in other areas, including in the way he deals with the hijab.

It is still not clear whether or not the AKP are conservative democrats. The reality that emerged during the local elections makes it seem likely that it is a controlled, right-wing “state party.” The discussion around the hijab and secularism could well be a staged theater piece meant to divert attention from the real agenda. The void left by the bankrupt and despised DSP, ANAP, and MHP coalition, the completely statist CHP, which tries to pose as a “guardian of the republic,” and the DYP, as the party of the counter-guerrilla and the mafia gangs, had to be filled quickly. It appears that in a joint initiative of the monopolistic and medium-size corporations and a section of the state, the AKP was pushed onto the stage. It may be more correct to interpret their conservative “democratism” mixed with moderate Islam as ideological camouflage or as a superficial veneer. It is even further to the right than the ANAP and calls to mind a corporate syndicate. It appears to be a coalition with a Turkish-Islamic synthesis that was cobbled together specifically to gain the support of the US and the EU. If social developments accelerate, it could fall apart even quicker than the ANAP did. But if there is no consistent democratic opposition, it could become an enduring phenomenon, possibly in the form of a center-right party. The collaborationist Kurds, with their weak primitive nationalism and Naqshbandi-Sunni understanding of religion, might also gather under the roof of the AKP. Talabani and Barzani’s support for the AKP is certainly no accident.26

The broad Naqshbandi and general Sunni alliance with primitive nationalism, which includes Barzani and Talabani, being developed inside the Turkish Republic is based on hostility toward the PKK and needs to be well-understood. This US-engineered policy approach, which began in the 1990s with Özal, has—for now—led to substantial unease within the Turkish Republic. Whether the Kurdish feudal-bourgeois bloc will side with the US, the EU, and Israel or with Turkey is currently among the most controversial and conflicting of issues and could lead to new cleavages and compromises at any point. The line on democratic resistance and patriotism under PKK leadership in the new phase must continue to resist the insistence on the status quo since the early 1990s, because the status quo alliance is based on an anti-PKK stance.

Second, in response to possible developments, new policies and positions may come into play. Primitive Kurdish nationalism may hope to emerge from the deepening chaos in the Middle East by strengthening a greater partiality for a separate state. Adding the Kurds in Iran, Turkey, and Syria to the Kurdish federal state in Iraq might also become part of the agenda, in which case it will extend its alliance with the US, the EU, and Israel and try to get the PKK on board. This plan can be detected at the core of the factionalization that emerged when the Kongra Gel was being established. The same thing was attempted in 1991. If the PKK does not become a well-rounded organizational force, the participation of individuals in something like this will lead to absorption and inevitably to liquidation and there will be a surge in Kurdish nationalism. It is possible that there will be several developments that resemble those in Israel-Palestine, Iraq, Cyprus, Chechnya, and Kosovo. In return, Turkey, Iran, and Syria would try to counter this with a joint policy. The PKK, however, must preserve its line in favor of a “free and democratic Kurdistan” as the basis of its reconstruction. At the same time as the PKK strives to enhance the democratic authority of the people, it will diligently preserve the firm and farsighted theoretical, programmatic, strategic, and tactical principles underlying this line. It will insist on the formula “one state + one democracy” and implement it creatively.

The third possible option would be a democratic solution and peace. The newly reconstructed PKK and the Koma Gel are the most important forces in this process. As the policies of the state tradition based on conquest and the US-backed Kurdish policies based on primitive nationalism deepen the deadlock, the option of a democratic solution and peace may develop. For this to occur, it is important that democratic left policies emerge and develop as the source of hope, replacing the right-wing nationalist and religious policies, especially in Turkey. The status quo that insists on a deadlock needs to decline among the Turks in Turkey, as has been the case with Cypriot Turks. In fact, the AKP came to power by using the “left option,” even though it is not yet a permanent factor on the Turkish agenda. The crisis of the Turkish left and its inability to come up with solutions are the decisive factors for the AKP’s success. Furthermore, the AKP was able to surge in Kurdistan because of DEHAP’s inability to implement the democratic line. Once again, it has become clear that there can be no vacuum in politics. Rigorous work for the democratization in Turkey and all parts of Kurdistan and the establishment of democratic authority could transform this line from fantasy to reality. The fact is that this is the tendency of our time, but both in Turkey and in Kurdistan the cadres, the leadership, the creative work necessary to understand and internalize this line as a concept, and the actual attempt to achieve it is, as yet, lacking. However, successfully pursuing this goal could, in the end, lead to historical leadership throughout the Middle East. I have always said that this line is the most likely political option for the Middle East, because the area’s historical and social foundations suit a democratic federation quite well. In fact, the culture, geography, and demographics necessitate this option.

In practice, this will probably mean that all three of these options will be on the agenda in a variety of mixed forms. There is no black-and-white distinction to be made between these options. There will be an admixture, with sometimes one and sometimes another aspect coming to the fore. They will realize themselves in a dynamic and mutable framework. Because the status quo and primitive nationalist forces are unlikely to achieve a solution in the long run, the option of a democratic solution and peace in Kurdistan will be the most discussed option on the agenda in the future. This option must develop and be successful under the leadership of the reconstructed PKK and the Koma Gel as the hope of all people of the Middle East. Everything depends on the degree to which this line is internalized and creatively realized.

Some of the later practical developments make it clear that there were some serious inconsistencies within the Demokratik Güçler Birliği (DGB: Union of Democratic Forces),27 which had been expected to provide a model for the democratic option. The position adopted by the SHP and probably the ÖDP, along with some members of the DEHAP, was aimed at the liquidation of the DEHAP.28 In particular their discomfort with Abdullah Öcalan, who is embraced by the people, as is reflected in numerous slogans and the efforts to isolate him, made this evident. Objectively, it is clear that a position similar to that of the CHP and Deniz Baykal was adopted. The reaction of the people could be read in the election results. Whether the DGB has a chance depends on whether it can credibly prove that it has overcome the extremely statist influence of the CHP and convincingly evince that it is a society-focused option not just in theory but also in practice. But if it directly or indirectly continues the “anti-Apoism,” it will simply dissipate. The “unionist forces” must understand that the Kurdish people’s democratic reality is not state-oriented, that they are highly organized and conscious and, thus, will not relinquish their party and its fundamental policies.


1 It is quite possible that material from proto-Kurdish narrations found its way into the epic. For example, in Kurdish, the name Gilgamesh means big buffalo (author’s note).

2 See Samuel N. Kramer and John Maier, Myths of Enki, the Crafty God (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).

3 The driver did this to delay the flight and notify Öcalan of the plot.

4 Hasan Bindal was a childhood friend of Öcalan, from a household that was an adversary of Öcalan’s family. Despite objections, especially from his mother and grandmother, Öcalan pursued this friendship, and they became best friends. Bindal was killed during a military exercise in Beqaa Valley, Lebanon, in 1990.

5 Duran Kalkan is of Turkmen origin.

6 Cihangır Hazır is better known as “Sarı Baran.”

7 See note 4 above.

8 Nikolai Bukharin and Grigory Zinoviev, both leading cadres of the Russian October Revolution, were sentenced to death at the 1936–1938 Moscow trials and subsequently executed.

9 During the November 3, 2002, elections, none of the three government parties passed the 10 percent hurdle necessary to be represented in parliament.

10 Öcalan had exerted pressure for a democratic selection of candidates by the local base, but many candidates were determined by various cliques. This created a lot of discontent at the base and led to the loss of many DEHAP strongholds at the polls.

11 The term “social life” is sometimes used as a synonym for “sex life.”

12 Osman Öcalan signed a ceasefire agreement without party consent.

13 He was sentenced to death by a party court but was later pardoned.

14 At the time, Osman Öcalan, along with others around him, entered into talks with the US that seemed to be preparing for the collapse of the PKK. The group engaged in these talks, without the participation of others in the organization.

15 Immediately after he commented positively on the PKK’s ceasefire, Özal died mysteriously. His family insists to this day that he was murdered.

16 Osman Öcalan had demanded an immediate unconditional dissolution of the guerrilla.

17 When, at fifty, Osman Öcalan married a nineteen-year-old, the response was widespread disgust.

18 In 1992, Osman Öcalan picked up a weapon and threatened to shoot himself and planned to flee and take shelter with Iranian state.

19 The group around Osman Öcalan talked about a coup.

20 This was written shortly before the Second Plenary Session of the Kongra Gel, in spring 2004.

21 After Abdullah Öcalan left Syria, many members and supporters of the Kurdish movement in Syria were arrested, tortured, and extradited to Turkey.

22 During his fast to the death, Kemal Pir said: “We love life so much that we are ready to die for it.”

23 At the time, one pillar of the policy toward South Kurdistan was to downplay national identity and call for a union under the banner of Islam. The long-term aim of this was to add the Kurdish territory of Iraq to Turkey. Ever since, Turkey has expanded its military presence in South Kurdistan.

24 Yavuz refers to “Selim the Grim,” the nickname of Sultan Selim I; see pages 380 and 433, this volume.

25 “Idealists” is what the Turkish fascists call themselves.

26 During the 2004 local elections, Jalal Talabani and Masoud Barzani called on the Kurds in Turkey to vote for the AKP.

27 The DGB was an electoral alliance of the DEHAP, the SHP, the ÖDP, and the EMEP. The alliance candidates ran on the SHP list, which led to a criticism that was particularly pronounced among the DEHAP’s base, because the SHP had been a part of Tansu Çiller’s “war government.”

28 The SHP, whose electoral potential was far smaller than that of the DEHAP, chose the candidates for all of the electoral districts.

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