An analysis of the story of the crucifixion of Jesus, a very important event for European civilization, will throw further light on my case. In looking at it, we are less interested in the formal process than in the essence of what occurred. Sociological analyses of the Bible and other texts concerning the events generally concede that the cult and the culture that were symbolically expressed through Jesus were rooted in the rapidly developing social segregation of the time. On the one hand, we have the traditional aristocratic and bureaucratic circles, which were converging around the rapid spread of the Roman Empire in the region, and, on the other hand, we find the poor of all peoples and cultures, whose numbers were increasing at an equally rapid rate. Jerusalem, in the eastern Mediterranean, was one of the most important centers at the time. The Hebrew tribes, with their history reaching back far into the past, had also undergone social segregation. Judaea was a small Hebrew kingdom, with Jerusalem as its center. As the social segregation grew, the clergy also split. The kingdom and the upper layer of the clergy united closely. Following a period of significant resistance, they began to collaborate with the Roman Empire.
While this was unfolding, there were several periods when the threat of a major uprising arose. A whole series of oppositional foci developed. The Essenes, a sect led by John the Baptist, may have been the most important of them. John staunchly opposed the Judaean collaborators, but he fell victim to the intrigues of Herod Antipas’s wife Herodias. His head was presented on a tray to those whose interests he had dared to threaten. Even before John’s death, Jesus had already established himself as a kind of successor, and it was now up to him to lead the social unrest. Essentially, he waged a class struggle in the form of a religious tariqa of the poor, which took shape as an important link in the widespread prophetic tradition of the day. What distinguished this movement was that Jesus, for the first time, broke with the Jewish community and emerged as the spokesperson of all people. In a way, he represented internationalism as opposed to Jewish nationalism. The cosmopolitan Roman Empire had established the objective basis for this process. The people of the Middle East were being rearranged and intermingled anew under the rule of the Romans. Two parties emerged, one of the rich and the other of the poor. In the Hellenistic era, there had been a similar split in Judaea, namely, between the Sadducees and the Pharisees. With Jesus, this tradition overcame the boundaries of the Jewish people and addressed the poor of all peoples for the first time. This triggered panic among the prominent priests in Judaea, and they demanded that the Roman prefect Pilate punish Jesus. Even though Pilate did not wish to do so, the Jewish collaborators succeeded in pressuring him, and to preserve the common interest he agreed to the crucifixion.
The narratives of the Apostles and holy men and women tell us what kind of religion later emerged. In particular, the new religion was most extensively adopted by the Greeks, who were dissatisfied with Roman rule. They developed a religious-tribal resistance, particularly in Anatolia and on the Greek peninsula, making inroads into the Empire via the new religion and becoming well established. Under Emperor Constantine, they become partners in the state and, as the “Byzantines,” left their mark on the East Roman Empire. Under the influence of the new religion, the Assyrians, as one of the most powerful and cultured people of the time, also underwent a far-reaching cultural reform, achieving a similarly influential position in both the Byzantine and the Sasanian Empires. In the three centuries after Jesus, due to the efforts of great bishops, the religion of the poor turned into the official ideology and the popular base of the state. Later on, Christianity, the fundamental ideological fabric of medieval European feudalism, along with the Reformation, would become one of the leading ideologies accompanying the birth of the new age of capitalism.
The answer to the question of who spilled the blood of Jesus of Nazareth, drank it like wine, and got wealthy off of it is: Western civilization itself. It was the Roman Empire as the worldly kingdom of European civilization that shed the blood of Jesus. The papacy, in its turn, made wine 520 of his blood, drank it, became the spiritual otherworldly kingdom, and created the fundamental moral values of European civilization.
The fate of Jesus and his poor, ascetic successors, however, was to be persecuted, tortured, and killed. When we analyze these formative developments of Western civilization, we recognize how the system murders its victims, while simultaneously heralding and praising them. This is the most important contradiction in Western civilization. In his novels, the famous Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky describes in impressive depth how bishops who are completely alienated from the essence of Jesus proceed to crucify him a second time. Sometimes the victims of a massacre worship the murderers, but in Western civilization the murderers worship the victims. It would, however, be incorrect to ascribe this fact to Western civilization alone. All systems based on domination and exploitation nurture themselves from the blood and sweat of their victims. All the stories told about the struggle of the people are stories of them liberating themselves from exactly that situation. But, in the end, even these stories cannot help but to ennoble their masters.
Two thousand years after the events surrounding Jesus of Nazareth, I—among others—suffered a similar fate in a location and culture close to his. This time, instead of Rome, the United States is Western civilization’s imperial power. While Rome was the power that gave birth to Western civilization, the US is likely to be the power that buries it. Just like Rome in its time, it must expand rapidly in the Middle East, and to do so it urgently needs collaborators.
Once again, the chasm between the rich and the poor is getting wider in the Middle East. Apart from the collaborationist parties of the rich, the poor have also given rise to a number of parties. This time around, the poorest people in the region are the Kurds. They are subjected to numerous kinds of oppression. I am not saying this because I want to emulate those past events, but because the way that I came to be, grew up, entered the system, my opposition to it, and the way I was finally captured bears a certain resemblance with the story of the prophet Jesus in both form and content. It is well known that our movement is also based on the poorest of the poor in the Middle East. The search for a new ideology, a new mentality, is also central. Communities characterized by extreme commitment have sprung up, and the US, i.e., the new Roman Empire, and its collaborators are quite alarmed. The state of Judea is, once again, a firm collaborator. Among the Greeks, there are also strong supporters. This time, the deadly treason of Judas Iscariot was carried out by the Greek Savvas Kalenteridis,1 who pretended to be a close sympathizer of mine. Even the kinglets of Kurdish Judaea intensely fear the rise of the Kurdish poor. All the collaborators feel the need to consolidate their positions in the region. My ideological and political position is anathema to all of them. Their interests have converged to favor the making of a conspiracy, so long as they can further entrench their despotism!
Paul, one of the greatest of the apostles, was sacrificed after a few major expeditions—Rome was the tiniest bit tolerant—whereas I was kidnapped and caught on my first European expedition. There is no need to elaborate on this particular story. I have traveled to the centers of all of the denominations. When I officially called on the Greek capitol of Athens, followed by the Russian capitol in Moscow, and finally the Rome of the Latins, I realized that there was no place for me in their ice-cold calculations of interests. There is no avoiding the heavy price of engaging in politics based on states—although my engagement was only in form and not in essence. They were quite clear that ideology and friendship have little value in the face of naked interest. The thoughts and beliefs of these forces have long been shaped by money. They are masters at promoting their material interests, using conspiracies and other similar means; for that, they have the necessary experience. In the final analysis, Rome was the crucial authority in the case of Jesus. Without the authority of Rome, Jesus would never have been arrested and crucified. When I was apprehended, the United States was the decisive authority. Without the US, my arrest would have been unthinkable. The Turkish leadership was consigned to the role of guards and executioners, while the EU, as one of Western civilization’s key juridical powers, got the last word in the adjudication of my case.
We could describe the relationships we have just sketched more concretely. The Byzantine Empire was closer to the empires of the East than those of the West. However, because of the balance of power during feudal civilization, the crusaders were unable to hold their ground in the East. Like the post-Alexandrian Hellenic civilization, they were condemned to be absorbed. The first major attack on the part of rising capitalism was undertaken by Napoleon in 1798. The obstacle he faced was the Ottoman Empire.
Europe would become the center of civilization, as the capitalist system secured its place as the new dominant force of civilization. Europe 522 clearly had the upper hand. While Eastern civilization in the form of the Arab sultans was expelled from Spain once and for all during the late fifteenth-century Reconquista, the period of rapid decline of the Ottomans began after a major defeat following the second siege of Vienna in 1683.
Neither could hold their ground against the rising European civilization any longer; their time had long since passed. With the defeat of Napoleon, Great Britain became the leading power of the civilization. Because the representatives of the British Empire were well aware that the road to world power ran through the Middle East, they began to turn toward this region in the early nineteenth century. Although caught between Czarist Russia in the north and the British Empire in the south, drawing upon its well-known policy of maintaining the equilibrium, the Ottoman Empire managed to survive for another century. But what happened to the victims of this policy of equilibrium is what is important. Three historically preem-inent peoples, the Ionians (Greeks) of Anatolia, the Armenians of Cilicia and Eastern Anatolia, and the Assyrians of Mesopotamia, were largely liquidated in this balancing ploy, and the Kurds were only able to preserve their physical existence.
England, France, and Russia all sought to assert a new rule over the region and to use the peoples just mentioned as a threat to extract concessions from the Ottomans. Capitalism’s calculations of its material interest were treated as far more important than the millennia-old culture of these peoples. For every step backward the Ottoman Turks had to take, they blamed these peoples, and each time they throttled them a little more. With the beginning of World War I, the alarm bells of history began to ring loudly. The Ionians, Armenians, and Assyrians were at death’s door under the ruins of the empire, while the Kurds were only barely able to retain their physical existence by retreating deep into the mountains.
The eight-hundred-year struggle between the Turkish sultans and the feudal and capitalist European state powers ended with Europe on top, a process that left many unfortunate victims in its wake. Historians don’t generally discuss the actual reasons for and consequences of the woeful story of the victims, because the mirror of reality would reflect their own ugly, murderous faces. Decisive responsibility for what happened in the Middle East over the last two hundred years lies with the major European states. The same peoples—the Ionians, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, and others—were still there. Because of the balance of power that they created within the Ottoman Empire, at least economically, they were doing well and could comfortably live according to their cultures. Politically too, they were not so far behind the Turks. Because they trusted Europe and harbored the unrealistic hope of founding their own states, they bet everything on one card, or, rather, were pushed to do so. In the end, they lost everything. Those of their children who survived the massacres became immigrants in the West; they set out for Europe or the United States. They tried to live with the utopia of a “promised holy land.”
In 1896, the Jews launched an offensive by holding the first Zionist Congress. We can see similar initiatives picking up speed in the US and Europe today. They are likely pinning their hopes on the US’s Greater Middle East Initiative. The occupation of Iraq opened a new and exciting phase for them. The Kurds are the most likely candidate to be a solid ally in the context of this project. The goal is to change the economic basis and the intellectual and political superstructure in the region, which poses an obstacle to the expansion of the capitalist system and to the continued existence of Israel. For this, the system’s two organized forces—the UN and NATO—must be appointed the project’s active diplomatic and military forces. The G8 will certainly contribute their share of economic power.
The actual problem is how the Republic of Turkey, as heir to the Ottoman Empire, will react to this phase. Both the external and internal conditions for a renewed national liberation initiative are lacking. If Turkey tries to resist the system, it will be no more successful than Iraq, Yugoslavia, or even Russia. However, total capitulation also would not be in their interest. Furthermore, the conditions of alliance formed after the 1950s cannot continue as they are. The only remaining possibility is reform, but there is no real will for it. Instead, misery is the preferred policy. There is an attempt to protect Turkey with an extremely conservative mentality that considers every day spent under the present status quo a victory. In this sense, Turkey today bears a striking resemblance to the Ottoman Empire in its final days.
It was under these conditions that the plot against me was hatched. Without a precise understanding of the background of the plot and the participants, it is impossible to address any of these problems or to accurately assess what the future holds for Turkey.
Despite some serious inadequacies and errors on my part, it is nonetheless the case that I undeniably represent the democratic awakening of people in general and the people of Kurdistan in particular. Before the actions of August 15, 1984, I tried to organize a certain mentality, but I have 524 to admit that it never went beyond a mix of real socialism and national liberation, and I failed to achieve a more advanced stage. The fifteen years between August 15, 1984, and February 15, 1999, was the phase where this organized mentality embodied action, a phase where action came to the forefront. It has been said that nothing clarifies things like practice. A consequence of this phase was that I was able to better define myself. It could be said that I truly tested the reality I represent, its problems, and my ability to solve them. Of course, that fact that I use “I” in this connection is no cause for exaggeration. I am no more than a mediator of the social reality of an honorable people who have been suppressed for thousands of years. Even though I have extensively analyzed divinity in these pages, the terminology I use is much closer to scientific.
That the reality of the people of Kurdistan has come to light greatly annoys the conquerors and those who have been collaborating with them for thousands of years—including Gilgamesh and Enkidu and others who have been exposed since. Under the protection of the US, the imperial power of our day, they began the 1998 Ankara and Washington processes. They agreed to a political program that would amount to envisaging a federal state of Kurdistan. This program was to be carried out under the auspices of the leadership in Ankara. In return, a joint decision would be taken for Abdullah Öcalan’s abduction and the PKK being condemned as terrorists, an outcome that objectively meant “annihilation and liquidation.” Even though the Ankara-Washington agreement concluded on September 17, 1998, was meant to remain secret, an attentive political observer would notice the agreement’s many contradictions. All parties to the agreement were trying to deceive one another, and the agreement itself was nothing more than tactics. As a result, the great pincer movement and the hunt for Abdullah Öcalan picked up speed on a world scale, with at least one faction in the US showing particular zeal. There was also pressure and comprehensive support from the Israeli right. The United Kingdom planned things well, with Israel’s secret service agency, the Mossad, also participating and providing intelligence. A military and economic pact between Israel and Turkey was concluded in 1996. On May 6, 1996, an attempt to assassinate me failed; a vehicle carrying a ton of explosives blew up the compound where I was staying. Prime Minister Tansu Çiller paid fifty million dollars to finance this attempt. When it failed, the final plot was launched. The next step was the September 17, 1998, speech by the commander of the Turkish army, which was tantamount to an ultimatum for Syria. With war against Syria looming, the Syrian government did not resist and told me to “go wherever you want to go, but go!”
After a call, the background of which is still not entirely clear, but which could be described as a semi-official invitation, I decided to go ahead with the “Athens adventure.” It would in fact have been ideal for me to head to the mountains of my country, but, out of moral concern, I postponed this expedition, which might have led to the deaths of thousands of people. I decided it would be more appropriate to take the opportunity to achieve a political solution in Europe. Beginning in 1997, I had received several messages through our European organization that I believed came from military circles. These messages reinforced my thinking. However, in Athens, I was not received by true friends but by the mythological goddess of war Athene, a creature who sprung from the forehead of the male god Zeus and lured the famous Trojan hero Hector into the wrong battle.2 For political gain, they forced me to fight all the profit-minded civilizational forces in a deadly arena in the hope of taking Troy, i.e., Anatolia, and Cyprus or at least the loom of such a political possibility. The real socialist and national liberationist ideological lines that nourished me and so many others were not suitable tools for seeing through this subterfuge. The famous skullduggery of Athene, about which both Alexander and Napoleon spoke, lives on in the Greek state tradition. What could the wisdom and bravery of the Middle East have hoped to achieve against this?
Critique of the ECtHR
One of the most important criticisms of the proceedings against me before the ECtHR concerns the relationship between the individual and society. As I have already extensively detailed in the first part of my defenses to the court, sociality has an extraordinary significance—a precedence in the development of the human species. All descriptions of the individual that fail to refer to sociality are nothing more than deception. In societies in the East, the dominant factor is always sociality. This is the result of the age and development of society. Whereas in the birth of Western civilization, individualism predominated. There was no lack of individual awakening in the Greek and Roman phase of the Western civilization or, thereafter, in the interpretation of Christianity during the medieval period. But during the Renaissance and afterward, there was a historical revolution of individualism. In the movements of the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment, which 526 followed one after the other, the sociality that had proliferated in the extreme in the societies of the East for centuries, suffocating individuals, was shattered. At first, this led to an equilibrium between the individual and society but, ultimately, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries led to the extreme rise of the individual. Our age is marked by individualism, and this time around the extreme malady that eats into society stems from individualism.
The balance between a healthy society and a healthy individual has now tilted in favor of the individual in a way that is quite literally absurd. Sociality is perceived as slavery. In fact, this kind of individualism is a form of bestiality, the ultimate return to the way of the primates at a more advanced level and under new conditions.
The fact that the ECtHR only accords an “individual right of appeal” is the legal reflection of this malady. Individuals are, in fact, entirely social and manifest themselves as such in every respect. To regard them even hypothetically as separated from their society and the will of the people is nothing but a legal ruse. This approach also contradicts any feeling for justice, which is the basis of all law. It also consciously or unconsciously serves to hide an important political reality. It keeps the free political movement of the Kurdish people beyond the law. The fact that the legality and legitimacy of the Kurdish freedom movement are kept off the agenda creates a situation that obscures the responsibility of the EU for the Kurdish people. This reality became glaringly apparent in the case of Leyla Zana and her friends.3 She received superficial support, but the “protection” of her human rights separated her from both Kurdish people in prison and those on the outside—in any case, the “outside” is nothing but an open-air prison. This is how they salvage “human rights.” As a consequence of my case, it is impossible to accept this subterfuge that stems from European civilization. My expectation is a decision that respects the equilibrium between the individual and society.
In its May 6, 2003, decision, the ECtHR rejected the verdict of the Turkish state security court, arguing that the court was not independent and that I did not receive a fair trial. On the other hand, it accepted the legality of bringing me before a court that is not independent and can’t rule justly, as a consequence of one of the most momentous plots of the twentieth century. In reality, this opinion and ruling are entirely political and, thus, only continue the plot. They had already been fixed beforehand as part of a larger plan.
My abduction totally contradicted article 5, paragraph 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, according to which I should have been returned to where I was seized. The fact that I was not even heard demonstrates that the decision had already been made beforehand. There is a lot of evidence regarding my abduction. Even more important is the fact that I was kidnapped in a place that must be seen as European territory.4 If the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR wants to respect the truth, then it must hear my testimony. If it doesn’t see this as necessary, then it must at least hear the testimony of Şemsi Kılıç,5 Savvas Kalenteridis, and others who witnessed the events. Moreover, my lawyers’ well-founded and extensive arguments must be taken into account. I have no fear of standing trial. However, it is my right to be tried before an independent and just court in accordance with the spirit of the conventions to which Turkey is a party. The ECtHR’s most important task is to ensure such a trial. This would be the first step toward fairness. The court’s decision failed to take that step. On the contrary, it prevented my execution but accepted my rotting away in prison for the rest of my life with no possibility of parole—cajoling me into accepting the lesser of two evils. I am not blind to the fact that this artifice has been used by the dominant powers for thousands of years. If the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR really wants to clear the way for a fair trial, it must consider the following:
First, I have been recognized as a political refugee by a decision of the Roman Appellate Court. The court is in the possession of the relevant documents.
Second, legally and on the basis of the decision of the Athens Criminal Court I should still be on Greek territory. The fact that I am in a one-person prison on İmralı Island is unlawful. This is completely obvious. The question that the Grand Chamber must answer is: Why am I being held in a solitary cell as a prisoner with a life sentence with no possibility for parole, even though legally I should be within Greek borders? If the Grand Chamber confirms the decision of the First Chamber without answering that question, it will prove that its actions are entirely politically motivated.
If the court wants to understand the details of my abduction without prejudice, it must hear my testimony, briefly summarized here, in full and summon all of the witnesses to the events. Any legitimate ruling must see me as being within the territorial borders 528 of the EU. As a consequence, both Turkey’s claims and those of the Kurdish side should be heard by an independent court, and a juridical and just verdict should be delivered. Turkey routinely accuses me of being responsible for the deaths of thirty to forty thousand people, but the fact that almost four thousand Kurdish villages and hamlets have been depopulated, that there have been more than ten thousand murders by unknown perpetrators, that almost thirty thousand guerrillas have been martyred and several hundred thousand people have been arrested, that exile, flight, and torture have become chronic, abrogating all human rights and trampling democracy underfoot—all of this is only a small part of the other side of the balance sheet. How can the ECtHR rule without taking any of it into account?
This is, in fact, the balance sheet of a war. There has never been an individual terrorist in history who could kill thirty to forty thousand people. If the fact that this was an asymmetrical war fought against the Kurdish people is accepted, then the best path to a just trial for me and the other parties would be the establishment of a process like the Nuremberg trials after World War II, the trials in Den Haag after the war in Bosnia, or the trials conducted by the UN courts that were created after the massacres in Rwanda and Liberia. There are thousands of complaints from Kurdish victims before the ECtHR. Should these not call to mind the balance sheet of the war? Historically, the Kurds have always been cheated. Shall we continue to be cheated even in Europe, a region that has developed a very high degree of transparency? How can humanity reconcile this with its conscience? At my trial, a thousand intrigues were used to judge a people for whom the ban on the use of its mother tongue has still not been completely lifted. How can the ECtHR dare participate in the crime of making all of this “compatible” with European norms?
The answer to these and hundreds of similar legal questions will show whether or not the court is independent of political influence and will allow for a fair trial. If the path to a fair trial is not opened up and I and thousands of other comrades, including Leyla Zana and her friends, are left to rot in prison for eternity (the question of being released is a secondary issue), we will have no other option but to state quite openly that it is actually the EU that is trying us, using the Turkish administration as a cat’s-paw. We will also have to openly and with great anger say that the leading European states bear the primary responsibility for the asymmetrical war that has been carried out against the Kurdish people for the last two hundred years, that the US has participated in it since the 1950s, that it is apparently not enough for them that the Armenians, Ionians, and Assyrians were liquidated, and that it is now apparently the Kurds’ turn. In brief, if one looks at the whole picture, the main parties to my trial are the EU countries, the Kurds, and me. That the trial was subcontracted to Turkey was merely a sleight of hand.
The efforts of the EU countries, with the support of the US and Israel, to push me out of the jurisdiction of European law took place openly. The Italian government did what it could to secure this result. It exerted enormous psychological pressure and even mobilized financial resources. Even though I hadn’t entered either the UK or Switzerland, both declared me to be persona non grata, an undesirable person. Official litigation against me was instigated in Germany and France. In some other countries, my request for asylum was preemptively and unfairly rejected, even though I had the right to asylum. A general campaign was undertaken to psychologically wear me down. Behind all of this are the quiet and secret agreements that Turkey concluded following the August 15, 1984, offensive, agreements that are based on ugly financial interests. We know very well that the various Turkish governments have literally given half of Turkey to European countries to induce them to take their distance from the PKK and accept the idea that the Kurdish freedom struggle is “terrorism.” Had it not been for these self-serving relationships of the sort that the European governments generally try to hide, but which have become obvious in my case, legally I would have been granted asylum immediately. Because of these interests, European law in the form of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) was glaringly contravened.
Abducting and removing me from Europe was meant to remove me from the purview of European law. Being banished to Kenya was the result of these disgusting relationships of interest. If it actually intends to respect European legal norms and conventions, the ECtHR must reject this unlawfulness. Even though the decisions of the Roman Appellate Court and the Athens Criminal Court have no practical relevance, their positive rulings are binding on the ECtHR. These decisions recognize me as a political refugee who should be free on European soil. Based on these decisions, it must be recognized that the judicial and execution processes on İmralı Island completely contradict European law and should not have occurred. What 530 we expect from the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR is that it acknowledge my right of free movement on European soil in accord with European law and the rulings in Athens and Rome, that it reject the injustice of İmralı Island prison, and that if a retrial is necessary the court ensures that it be fair and impartial—in accordance with the First Chamber ruling of the ECtHR. The conditions of the ECHR will only be satisfied if I receive a positive decision on that basis. Otherwise, the ECtHR will inevitably become nothing more than an instrument in a far-reaching political plot.
This is why I have devoted the largest part of my court defenses to explaining European civilization. This civilization is destroying us. When executing their schemes to secure their temporary power or their masters’ profits, the politicians never particularly worry about the eradication of this or that people. We already know that. But if there is still a tiny spark of justice, then an institution like the ECtHR should lay the sleight of hand of an “individual trial” to one side and address the essence of the case. With its ruling, it should at least show what an objective, realistic, and timely judgment looks like. If Turkey is a war party—and the whole world knows that it is; it even says so itself—and has declared me and my organization to be the greatest threat and the key enemy, how can it guarantee a fair and impartial administration of justice? How can the ECtHR assume it would? Are there other schemes that we do not even know about? If so, why has the ECtHR accepted my lawsuit? If these questions are not answered in a convincing manner, do we not have to conclude that this is just another well-played act in a political game that has been in the works for a long time? If that is the case, I have no other option than to do what my reason and my consciousness tell me to do to prevent myself and my people from becoming the plaything of others.
All of this indicates why my submission to the court has to be developed politically more than legally. The Kurds as a people are not treated in accordance with either national or international law. The fact that European law stubbornly insists on the individual dimension and ignores the underlying historical social reality means that the problem cannot be resolved by legal means. This approach has prevailed ever since the Treaty of Lausanne, in which the existence of the Republic of Turkey was accepted without recognizing the Kurds.6 In return, the Brits were handed the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk. The Republic of Turkey adopted capitalism, and the Treaty of Lausanne was its reward. While the Western states regarded the Armenians, Ionians, and Assyrians as minorities worthy of protection, they could not give any guarantees to the Kurds. This meant turning a blind eye to the cultural and political—though not yet physical—annihilation of the Kurds. The consequences of relationships, contradictions, and conflicts between the Western imperialist states and the Turkish rulers over the last two hundred years should be examined closely. The backwardness of the Middle East today, its lack of freedom and democracy, are essentially the result of relations during these years. The Greater Middle East Initiative must be seen as an inevitable result of the last two hundred years, and its content should be carefully examined. The Kurds, as the most strategic element of this project, have a special obligation to examine and evaluate themselves in this regard, which is one of the main goals of my present defenses before the court.
The connection between my imprisonment on İmralı Island and the formation of the Kurdish federal state in North Iraq is quite obvious. The Turkish authorities must understand the following very well: you have handed the Kurdish federal state to the feudal-bourgeois Kurdish forces in return for the liquidation of me and the PKK, and you will be held responsible for the consequences.
This amounts to laying the foundation of a conflict that resembles today’s Israel-Palestine conflict. With this, not only is the foundation of the revolutionary republic being eroded, but an atmosphere suitable for all kinds of nationalist provocation is also being created. Nationalist sentiments are to be inflamed to set the people against each other so that those in power are able to continue their systems of rule in new forms. The Israel-Palestine conflict has almost been turned into a problem of the last century and has become a justification for the worst administrative practices among the Arab people. The rulers are now trying to extend the same game to the Kurds.
It is at this point that the plot against me gained an international dimension, because the mere existence of my person and the movement I represent did not fit into the game and even had the potential to thwart it. It appeared strategically important to strip our movement of its influence over the Kurds and place it in the hands of the imperial powers, with the goal of disciplining the Arab, Persian, and Turkish nation-states. Tens of thousands of Kurds in Europe and the US were being prepared to this end. They insistently tried to create a Kurdishness that suited their own mentality. In fact, the process that Israel had begun after World War II with the Barzani family was gradually extended, which is why the Kurds 532 slowly gained importance as the new favorites of the West. The states in the Middle East, with their tradition of conquest, also redefined their own Kurds. They formed a Kurdish army of intelligence operatives and village guards under the command of the security forces. The third group of Kurds, namely, the poor and the laborers, was shaped by the PKK’s patriotic and democratic line. Thus, three groups of Kurds emerged. First, the Kurds affiliated with the US, the EU, and Israel—the old feudal and tribalist upper-class circles that are on their way to becoming a bourgeoisie, and who are trying to gain influence by exploiting tribal loyalties, with the financial support of the states. At the moment, their basic political program is the Kurdish federal state. Second, the Kurds who serve the conquerors’ security forces—the Arab, Turkish, and Persian nation-states—for money and out of tribal loyalty, whose goal does not go beyond money and local authority. The third group is made up of the PKK and the Kurds who feel connected to it by their patriotic and democratic sentiments and consciousness. This force seeks to achieve democratization and a free Kurdistan. Various possible structures could emerge in the future from these three groups and the interactions and contradictions among them.
Kurdistan, which has awoken from its deep thousands of years of slumber and is in a dynamic process, will inevitably be one of the most important actors in the emergence of a new equilibrium in the Middle East and can certainly play various roles in different scenarios.
In its founding phase, the Turkish republic saw the Kurds as a fundamental element, but after the uprisings it denied them any access to law and politics as Kurds. From the perspective of the political juncture at the time, this might have made a certain amount of sense, but turning it into a permanent principle was one of the most disastrous errors made. I believe that the imperial powers pursued the goal of exploiting the contradictions resulting from this error to the advantage of the Kurdish structures closest to them and to bind the Turkish, Iranian, and Arab leaderships that they have a conflict of interest with more closely to them or otherwise curb their influence. To do so, they consciously tried to liquidate the option of freedom for poor and working-class Kurds linked to me. The first product of these contradictions is the Kurdish federal state in Northern Iraq, and that is just the beginning. Should the leadership of Turkey proceed against the Kurds in an alliance with Iran and some of the Arab forces from Syria and Iraq, it will fall into the real trap. The historical allergy the Iranians and the Arabs have to the Turks should not be overlooked. If the project of inciting the Kurds against the Turks succeeds, some historical problems will certainly flare up again. Among these, the historical claims of the Anatolian Greeks, the Armenians, the Georgians, the Iranians, and even the Arabs, claims that reach to the Taurus Mountains, will be reinvigorated, reducing the Turks to the status they had in the sixteenth century.
At that time, Selim I deflected this danger with his Kurdish policy. The fact that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk also succeeded in doing so in the 1920s was the result of his alliance with the Kurds in a freedom-based relationship. The Anatolian history of the Turks was based on a very close dialectical relationship with the Kurds. The disintegration of this relationship and turning Kurds into complete enemies would be the gravest strategic loss on the part of the Turks, whether they know it or not. The blame for the uprisings must be sought on both sides. Neither the primitive chauvinist nationalist tradition nor the religious feudal tradition were capable of understanding and acting upon this strategic connection. This strategic relationship is on the brink of being destroyed by the extremely violent liquidation of the Kurds. Both Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and İsmet İnönü realized this toward the end of their time in office, but the situation was irreversible. Since 1950, the revitalization and strengthening of the Kurdish feudal class in return for the denial of their lineage has led to a further disintegration of this strategic relationship, which has become increasingly meaningless.
After the 1980s, the Turkish-Islamist current, which is a synthesis of extreme religionism and Turkish nationalism, completely ignored this strategic relationship. In this situation, the Western powers and the states in the region expressed their traditional indignation by turning a blind eye toward the PKK. But all of them, with the firm support of Iran and Syria, played a role in the formation of the Kurdish federal state, which represented a singularly important step in putting the historical games back on the agenda. The Kurdish movement linked to nationalism will totally sever the traditional strategic relationship with the Turks. We see examples of this process in the separation between Israel and Palestine or Russia and Chechnya and in the Balkans, with the dissolution of Yugoslavia. These random and self-deceptive policies are a far cry from showing any understanding of the importance of the historical relationship. They have all been blinded by nationalism and religionism, and short-term rentier economics and politics have made them incapable of seeing beyond the next day. I have tried very hard to prevent myself and the PKK from being used in this game.
The developments within the scope of the US Greater Middle East Initiative will continue to accelerate in the near future. Although it is allegedly the strongest partner, it is, in fact, unclear whether Turkey will be a partner or a target of this project. In the 1990s, there was also a lot of talk about strategic partnership. The results speak for themselves and may have been instructive. Whether Turkey is a partner or a target, it will be unable to maintain the old status quo. To insist on the old status quo would turn Turkey into a second Iraq or a second Yugoslavia—even though Iraq and Yugoslavia had conceded their own nationalities a number of rights to varying degrees. Comparatively, the Turkish chauvinist thought templates are much stronger, and the people have been forced to adopt these chauvinist templates for years. If this continues, a rupture is inevitable. The conflict with the PKK alone makes this obvious. Kurdish-Turkish structures characterized by nationalism will shatter the historic and strategic relationship completely. In my opinion, this has been the conscious and deliberate goal since the 1950s. First, Turkish nationalism was ramped up to the point of fascism and religionism, a process exacerbated from the outside, just as Pan-Turkism and Pan-Islamism had been before World War I. At the time, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk understood this better than anyone else. He thwarted these two ideological currents and propagated a patriotism that was open to freedom.
The above-mentioned provocative factors within the Kurdish uprisings disrupted this policy and the strategic relationship between the two sides. In reality, extreme nationalism ran straight into a trap, because it believed it could obliterate the Kurds. Even someone like Ziya Gökalp, who is regarded as the father of Turkish nationalism, could still say, “The Turks cannot do without the Kurds, and the Kurds cannot do without the Turks.” In this light, it is very important to reinterpret the development of the attitude toward the Kurds after 1950. Since the turn of the millennium, Kurdish nationalism, again encouraged by outside influence, has accelerated. Despite all its flaws, the PKK and its internationalist position on the people of the region has been the main factor in thwarting this game. The US decision to immediately dub the PKK “terrorist” was not due to its great love for the Turks but, rather, to deepen the conflict. Had the US and the EU done only 0.1 percent of what they did in Cyprus to address the Kurdish question, they would have strengthened Turkey enormously. But they carefully refrained from doing so. Instead, they executed a policy that could be described as: “To the hare: run! To the greyhound: attack!” The political and economic war profiteers also enthusiastically jumped on the bandwagon, bringing Turkey to the brink of demise.
This was the point at which the forces at work thought that if they handed me over I would undertake a crude resistance and die, which set in motion the total collapse of Turkish-Kurdish relations. All the ropes of the Kurdish movement would be centralized in one place. Today we have a better understanding of these plans. Even in the best-case scenario, the US and the EU would not have refrained from supporting Kurdish nationalism. Israel also urgently needs Kurdish nationalism in the Middle East. Without Kurdish nationalism, the West will not be able to bring the Arab, Iranian, and Turkish lethargy to a position that suits its goals. The way in which they hoped to use the PKK was a trap for both sides. With a policy based on the greyhound attacking and the hare running away, both sides are losers. This is exactly what happened after 1925, and once the Kurdish nationalists gain access to modern armaments in the 2000s, it will be hard to openly confront them. Perhaps neither side can score a strategic win, but they will certainly both lose big, and, as always, the real winners will be the imperial forces. Should this situation come about, Kurdish nationalism and those who deny the existence of the Kurds and deprive them of their rights will be equally responsible. The question arises: What has the Republic of Turkey gained by leaving the Kurdish question unresolved for seventy-five years?
Moreover, one would really have to be blind to overlook the fact that given today’s technological development a policy of denial is not only condemned to failure but will also engender a Kurdish-Turkish conflict that might flare up at any time. The Soviet Union and Iraq are sad examples of the result of relying on military power. Already, the military expeditions to Kurdistan are synonymous with economic crises. Continuing to block a resolution of the Kurdish question, refusing to end the conflict, and provoking a period of potential new war would amount to the total destruction of one of the main pillars of the strategy that has been vital in keeping Turks alive in Anatolia for a thousand years. I repeat: to fail to see this, you have to be either a traitor or an enemy of the people.
Nobody should expect that a movement that is the product of unbelievable hardship and effort will simply surrender. Since 1998, I have patiently mapped out a comprehensive ideological and political position, both for myself and for my organization, and have asked everyone to adopt it. My proposal was the most prudent possible and would have been to the 536 advantage of all concerned parties, the country, and our people. At the time, I received positive reactions from my friends. While I can’t say that there had been no reaction whatsoever on the part of the state, I must say that the state is still a long way from acting constructively to bring about a solution. Continuing to wait risks destroying the process completely.
The PKK will neither relinquish Kurdistan to reactionary state policy and the representatives of the status quo nor to primitive Kurdish nationalism. The PKK has not insisted that the Kurds have a state of their own, but it has also never turned its back on the project of democracy and freedom for the Kurds and Kurdistan, and it never will. There can be no doubt that a democratic dialogue is the most constructive and solution-oriented relationship possible. A careful investigation of the history of the Turks, Iranians, and Arabs will show that conditions in the Middle East have always resembled a federation, and only full democracy can prevent nonproductive disputes from arising within a federation. So far, history hasn’t found any solution that is more effective than that.
In all of this, Turkey is in the best position to prevent a situation in which the Kurds as a whole, but particularly the PKK and its initiative, become the focus of new regional intrigues. This would also best suit Turkey’s history and it’s particular common strategic roots with the Kurds. For the Turks, it is neither possible nor useful to try to eradicate the Kurds from history. On the contrary, it is undeniable that mutual dependency is a vital factor for both peoples. Continuing to wait at this point would mean heading toward decay and further squandering the potential basis for positive relationships. If they are denied a democratic dialogue, the Kurds will choose a major offensive to win their freedom. And as for how the war will develop, the approach of the parties involved and the foreign powers will be decisive.
We must carefully analyze what will happen if Turkey fully throws itself into the chaos in the Middle East without addressing the Kurdish question. It is becoming clear that three groups will compete for Kurdistan. The first one is the US, Israel, and the collaborationist Kurds. The second is the Turkish, Iranian, and Arab representatives of the status quo, along with a small section of the Kurdish militias, collaborators, and tribes, as well as the comprador bourgeoisie. The third group is weightier and comprised of the impoverished laborers and the patriotic and democratic population. This type of separation is new. It is highly likely that the collaborationist Kurds willing to make common cause with the representatives of the status quo will decline in number over time. This can be deduced from the situation of the Kurds in Iraq. If the Turkish, Iranian, and Arab leaderships do not make reforms to their Kurdish policies, the most diverse possible alliances could develop between patriotic and democratic Kurds and the Kurds who collaborate with imperialism at all levels. In the end, all Kurds might even take part in a coalition under the leadership of the US. If there is no option for a compromise with the Turkish, Iranian, and Arab leaderships, we should expect even the Kurds under the leadership of the PKK to enter into relations with the coalition forces on the basis of a ceasefire and democratic solution. The Arab leadership of Iraq has already taken a strategic blow because of such a relationship. It was the US, Israel, and Kurdish alliance that destroyed Iraq. If Turkey stubbornly continues to defer a solution of the Kurdish question, the consequences could be many times more severe than in Cyprus. Neither the capitulation offered to the Western states as hush money nor investments can continue to be effective in this new phase.7 Even though the Greater Middle East Initiative doesn’t envisage the same things for Turkey as the Treaty of Sèvres after World War I, the republic as a nation-state produced by the domestic and external balance of power at that time can no longer be sustained in its pro–status quo mode of being.
Turkey is definitely in a transitional period, and how it will emerge from the chaos will depend on the extent to which it defines its new condition correctly. Should it expand the war with the Kurds instead of seeking a reconciliation, the result will probably be a situation somewhere between Sèvres and Lausanne.
A democratic solution to the Kurdish question will enable Turkey to assume a leading role along with the Kurds in a democratic Middle East a strong possibility. If the opposite proves to be the case, the strategic bond would be completely broken, and Turkey would run the risk of being squeezed into Central Anatolia. All these options will be on Turkey’s agenda both in the short and long run, with things sometimes moving slowly and at other times quickly. A renewal of the post–World War I Kurdish-Turkish compromise on a democratic basis would lead to a situation where both sides emerge from the chaos in the Middle East stronger.
This time, this must happen in a historically appropriate way through democratic and free unity. The road to this goal is rife with dangers posed by feudal and bourgeois nationalism. Should the project fail, the formation of a Kurdistan that resembles Israel would be inevitable.
To conclude, the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR is faced with deliver-ing a historical judgment that could pave the way for a just and impartial trial. If there is a role for the law in enabling a democratic solution to the Kurdish question, it must include the attempt to thwart this political plot. This would show the face of European law that is oriented toward peace. I was tried under such harsh conditions as a result of the non-application of European law. My abduction served to remove me from Europe’s jurisdiction. The significance of my kidnapping, a story that could be the subject of a novel, goes far beyond me as an individual. In the last quarter century, there has been extensive bargaining between the Western states and Turkey about the Kurdish people’s freedom struggle. Because of the capitalist system’s greed for profit, the struggle of our people, which takes place amid terrible poverty and suffering, is simplistically and entirely unjustly reduced to a mere violation of my individual rights. This is yet another example of the EU and Turkey trying to reach a compromise. But, actually, it is not only me who loses; the Kurdish people will be the ones to really lose. It is important that the ECtHR does not allow itself to be instrumentalized in this way. It is obvious certain forces are putting significant energy into trying to manipulate my will. Even guinea pigs are treated better. What, therefore, is the legal justification for the EU demanding that Turkey provide a fair and independent trial?
It is common knowledge that in Turkey trials of the Kurds in particular are carried out on orders from above. The judicial institution is at the forefront of the fascist centers. In the way it deals with the Kurds, it does not have the slightest legal feature. To expect a fair and independent trial from such an institution is an insult to me and to our people. Our name, culture, and existence are not recognized. The law deems the Kurds and Kurdishness nonexistent. How can anyone expect a fair and impartial trial as long as this is the judicial reality in Turkey?
I was not apprehended in accordance with international law. Did I surrender to Turkey of my own free will while I was still physically under the jurisdiction of European law? How is it possible that the First Chamber of the ECtHR is unable to establish the fact that I was abducted using the most despicable methods, which is, after all, very easy to see? There remains only one explanation: during the more than twenty years of asymmetrical warfare against the Kurdish people, European capital has squeezed a lot of profit out of Turkey. The ECtHR is now paying the system’s debt. Actually, it is the decision of the First Chamber of the ECtHR that prevents a fair and impartial trial. The Grand Chamber should now act in accord with the ECHR and reverse the previous decision. That would pave the way for a truly fair and impartial trial, which would create the possibility to compensate the Kurdish people in some small way for the great pain and the major losses they have suffered. Then, in the context of its path into the EU, Turkey would actually have the opportunity to become a country that applies the rule of law. As a country conforming to European law, Turkey would become a fundamental guarantor of peace. All of this would prove that the EU, which itself emerged from self-critique of Europe’s war-ridden past and where peace and human rights are accepted as supreme virtues, is indeed an unshakable bastion of law and democracy.
1 Savvas Kalenteridis was a colonel in the Greek secret service. He accompanied Öcalan during the second sojourn in Greece and Kenya.
2 See Abdullah Öcalan, Özgür İnsan Savunması (Cologne: Mezopotamien Verlag, 2003).
3 In 1991, Leyla Zana became the first Kurdish woman to win a seat and speak Kurdish in the Turkish Parliament. When the Democracy Party (DEP) was banned by the Turkish government in 1994, her parliamentary immunity was lifted, along with that of five other DEP deputies. Leyla Zana, Orhan Doğan, Hatip Dicle, and Selim Sadak were arrested and convicted in 1994. They were initially charged with “treason against the integrity of the state,” which was later changed to “membership in an armed gang.” In July 2001, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that they had not received a fair, independent, and impartial trial.
4 Abdullah Öcalan was at the Greek embassy in Kenya when the operation to abduct him took place.
5 Şemsi Kılıç, one of the European spokespersons of the ERNK, accompanied Öcalan on his odyssey.
6 The Kurds, who had been mentioned in the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres, were not acknowledged in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne between Turkey and the victorious powers of World War I.
7 This refers to the instrumentalization of the trade agreements between the European states and the Ottoman Empire.