Saturday, May 20, 2006


“If you ever see me being beaten up by the cops, put down the video camera and come help me, alright?” ~ Bobcat Goldthwaite.

Someone else has made some comments on the PKK/HPG video, for which I posted a link earlier in the week (Note: The video appears to be no longer available, so I will have to think about uploading it somewhere, in order to keep it available).

The other comments on the PKK/HPG video are found at Atlas Shrugs. Although I think I understand the general drift of the comments, I'm a bit confused about their details.

For instance, I don't understand how PKK could have started out "wrong." What, exactly, does that mean? If it is in reference to the Marxist origins of PKK, I really don't know what else one would expect, given the Turkish political milieu of the 1960's and '70's, about which more information is found here. At the time, the left, particularly the Marxist left, was where one would find the main opposition to the state. The development of industrialization and modernization, the inability of the Turkish left to fully comprehend the repression of Kurds, and the Algiers Accord of 1975, were developments that lent fuel to the Kurdish nationalist fire in the North.

Then came the 1980 coup, backed by the US, which was the torch that lit the flame, and in 1984, the first PKK operations were engaged. More info on that can be found here:

In fact, behind the left-wing rhetoric, the PKK had always been a nationalist movement. Its promise to save the exploited of Turkey and the rest of the Middle East notwithstanding, its very formation represented a break with the Turkish Left and abandonment of the ‘‘common struggle.’’9 To be sure, this may have been directly and indirectly caused by a Turkish Left that sought recruits from the east and southeast as cannon fodder in its own particularistic struggle of the 1970s. Hence, its assumption of a nationalistic image is in fact not just in keeping with the times but also a return to its real self. Although a product of the doctrinaire Turkish leftwing movements, the PKK watched from close these groups’ destruction by the military in 1980. The radical and violent Left failed to succeed anywhere in Europe or the Middle East. By contrast, nationalist groups proved to have much longer shelf life. Nationalism has proven to have no equal in mobilizing them.

(Note: The two sources titled "Origins of the Problem: The Roots of Kurdish Nationalism " and "Enter the PKK" are from the late 1990's, but are very useful as historical reference to the Kurdish national movement in North Kurdistan.)

Is the reference to PKK starting out "wrong" a reference to the conduct of PKK's resistance? If so, then PKK itself has admitted that there were mistakes made in the past, especially during its 5th Congress, and later with the ideological changes it made that resulted in the creation of KADEK, KONGRA-GEL, and most recently by the establishment of the Koma Komalên Kurdistan (KKK). The idea of confederalism, the basis of KKK, is one that is already underway, as symbolized most recently by the DTP presence at the KRG unification ceremony in Hewlêr. Practically speaking, all Kurds have been looking to South Kurdistan since 2003, seeing it as an inspiration for other parts of occupied Kurdistan.

The Kurdish Diaspora has also had a huge role to play in the idea of confederalism, which ignores the borders that artificially divide Kurdistan, and which has been described as "transnationalism" by Martin van Bruinessen. It is Kurdish transnationalism that very well may be the root of confederalism and, given that the enemies of Kurdistan have attempted to destroy the wider transnationalism (i.e. through attacks against Roj TV, Kurdish publishing and print journalism, murders of Kurdish leaders in diaspora, to name a few instances), it is clear that confederalism is seen as a threat. Hence the massing of enemy troops, their attacks, the refusal to deal with legal Kurdish parties, and the targeting of Kurdish civilians.

As to a "complete end to all terrorist activities," I agree. The TSK and all covert Turkish security operatives must be removed from Kurdistan immediately. They have conducted terror operations against the Kurdish people for decades. The same holds true for Iranian and Syrian security forces. Until these hostilities against the Kurdish people end, there is a continuing need for Kurds to exercise the right of self-defence against these genocidal regimes. As Cemil Bayik recently stated:

We have no other option but to resist such attacks. Resistance is our legitimate right. Resistance is a right enshrined under international law. As long as the Kurdish Question remains unresolved we will resort to our legitimate right to resistance. We will not accept surrender or death.

What is certain is that US accommodation of its Turkish ally means that Kurds cannot look to the US for justice, so abandonment of self-defense would be more than foolhardy; it would be suicide. Neither can Kurds look to the EU for justice. Everyone can search in vain for an EU statement against the Turkish and Iranian attacks against Kurds. Such a statement would go against the EU's policy of support for the Ankara and Teheran regimes.

As for ceasefires, well, PKK has tried that a number of times, most recently from 1999 to 2004, although fighting on the part of HPG didn't really resume until last year. For all intents and purposes, the ceasefires have been completely useless because there is only one side engaged in ceasefire. Certainly, either the US or the EU could have encouraged the Ankara regime to negotiate. They could have ceased business deals, particularly on the American side, with all the military assistance they have given to Turkey.

But that didn't happen, so we can relegate those ideas to the "What if" file.

Let me also make clear that the Turkish, Iranian and Syrian regimes have used their own internal propaganda to foster hatred of Kurds. One example, from an Iranian, can be seen at comments on this DozaMe post, and another, from Turkey, can be seen in this video. Pay attention to the comments posted on that page in order to get an idea of the anti-Kurdish racism which is totally acceptable in Turkey. This is something that is almost impossible to explain to someone who has not encountered it, but it does not happen that people are born with this hatred in them; it is taught and reinforced, first by the family and then by society. There is a problem, too, in that Kurds do not discuss this racism enough, especially with outsiders. Is that because the problem is ubiquitous or because of the suspicion that no one will believe it?

Let's not be naive here and fall for the lies. Turkish, Syrian and Iranian "democrats" are dead set against extending "democracy" to the Kurdish people. Even Iraq has continued to insist on its "Arab character," thus, once again, disenfranchising the 4 to 5 million Kurds who are trapped within its borders. All of these "democrats" wax eloquent on the subject of "democracy" and "equality" and "brotherhood" within their respective regimes, but mention the K-word and the fantasies they attempt to pass off to ignorant Westerners vanish like smoke on a windy day.

Wrap your brain around all of that and then come and tell me who the terrorists are.


philip said...

Mizgin, I luv ya, pal, but I think you're overly defensive about the PKK. I'm not asking you to condemn them, but I think you're defending them on some areas where they need fundamental reform. To wit:

1--Does the PKK maintain its own "cult of personality," revolving around a revered supreme leader? Has the PKK produced any other figures whose stature remotely approaches "Apo"? If not, why not? Can you deny that this status is related to the PKK's political structure?

2--Does the PKK feel free to "purge" itself of dissidents and freethinkers by intimidating or killing them?

3--Is there any evidence that these great public renounciations of class struggle/Leninism were anything but phony tatical maneuvers? I checked the PKK website a few months ago, they mouth the same old Bolshevik bullsh!t, absent the specific references to Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao, etc...but substantively the same krap.

What is wrong w/these people, that they continue to advocate a system that was conclusively proven to be an unmitigated disaster for everyone who fell under its sway? What kind of future wd that be for Kurdistan? "From the frying pan into the fire!"

4--Has the PKK stopped making attacks on civilian targets? Not police, soldiers, etc, but restaurants, bus stations, the usual targets that make a terrorist a terrorist.

I can't be as sanguine about the "new and improved PKK" as you. But I sincerely hope, for the sake of the Bakuri Kurds, I am wrong. Or that the needed reform WILL come quickly.

Anonymous said...

In regards to Kurds speaking discussing racism... I think you are on the right track by saying it is "because of the suspicion that no one will believe it". Only, there is no suspicion because most people don't believe it. In addition, aside from racist Turks, the racism against Kurd among Persians and Arabs is very subtle. Like many aspects of Kurds and Kurdistan, racism is yet another aspect that is so complex and unique to anything else that has existed in this world...

Mizgîn said...


1. Apo is a symbol of the Kurdish national movement in the North. What is the purpose of symbolism? Symbolism packs a lot of information into one focal point which would otherwise take many words to describe. So what we see in Apo is the fight against oppression, the dignity that Kurds regained because of that fight, the strengthening of Kurdish identity in the North as a result of the fight, the admittance of Kurdish existence on the part of the oppressor--VERY important because the oppressor's ideology is based on the denial of Kurdish existence--and the betrayal of the Kurdish cause by the international community. And that betrayal is something that continues today. Just check the recent statements by the EU, demanding that Kurds give up PKK (and by extension, Apo), because the AK party is the best chance for Kurds.

Please, tell me another one. Even when Apo called ceasefires in order to negotiate a just situation for Kurds within the Turkish system (something that legal Kurdish parties have tried to do), there was no negotiation and no pressure from the international community for negotiations to take place. DTP finds itself in the very same position now, and they are sans Apo.

It is the cause of the Kurdish people itself which is sacred and the person is revered in so much as they come to embody or symbolize the Kurdish struggle. If you were to question a strongly devoted KDPer about his/her respect, reverence, "cult of personality" for Barzanî Namirî, you will find, again, that the reverence, in reality, is for the sacred Kurdish cause and the extent to which Barzanî Namirî came to embody that cause. Now, there are Southern Kurds who complain about that (just as there are Northern Kurds who complain about Apo). They wonder why there are so many statues of Barzanî Namirî, so many pictures, so much reverence, and the problem with their complaints is, in my opinion, that they do not understand the symbolism that Barzanî Namirî embodies. It's the same with Apo.

By the way, the Marxism excuse was the one used by the American government for not working with the Southern Kurds, because after Mehabad, Barzanî Namirî and some 500 men MARCHED from South Kurdistan to the Soviet Union, where they stayed for 11 years. From that time on, the US referred to him as the "Red Mullah," both totally inaccurate terms because he was never a Marxist and never a religious leader. But, of course, this smearing of Barzanî Namirî, because he had no place to go but the USSR, was merely an excuse to cover US ass for refusing to support Kurdistan. To do so would have opened a big can of worms.

On the other hand, the US now seems to be quite happy to work with a person who did, in fact, have Marxist origins--Celal Talabanî. Mam Celal traveled to the USSR and visited Barzanî Namirî there and was very disappointed to find that Barzanî was anything but a Marxist.

Why has PKK produced no other leader with Apo's stature? Because PKK is not in the business of handing over its leadership to the regime in order to create symbols.

As for Apo's status being related to the PKK's political structure, certainly it is a result of that. If I have a symbol to focus the attention of the people on my cause, will I use it? Certainly. Check all the photos from this year's Newroz celebrations in the North and what symbols will you see? You will see the DTP flag, the PKK--or, actually, the KKK--flag, and flags with Apo's face, and the people displaying those symbols are not necessarily members of those organizations, but it is clear where their sympathies lie and it is clear that it is more than just Apo they are displaying. They are displaying their loyalty to the cause, as a whole. As both DTP and KKK have stated, Apo and "PKK" are realities that the Turkish government is going to have to deal with. I have said that myself, long before DTP made interviews or KKK made statements on the matter.

2. What do you mean by "PKK" as far as "dissidents" and "freethinkers" go? As far as HPG goes, since it is a military organization, it is no place for "dissidents" and "freethinkers." The same thing goes for other military organizations, such as HAK (military wing of PJAK) and YJA (KONGRA-GEL's women guerrillas). People who become part of the cadres are in a situation similar to the gerîlas. They have been around long enough to know the movement and what would be expected of them if they become part of the cadres. If they have doubts, they should not accept to become part of the cadres. And a discussion of the movement's process of selection is something I'm not going to go into here.

A few years ago, rumor had it that Cemil Bayik had been sentenced to death on some so-called "PKK death list." But the funny thing is that just this last week, we get an official KKK statement from Cuma. And he's part of the executive council. If there was a death list, why isn't he dead? Why is he making official KKK statements? Who is it that goes around spreading rumors of "death lists?" The same people who spread "death list" rumors tend to be the same ones who claim they are "dissidents," but they aren't really "dissidents." If they truly had the improvement of the movement at heart, they would be a benefit to the movement as a whole. But they are the ones spreading lies, rumor and gossip, therefore they are not dissidents.

3. I don't know what evidence you want and I don't know what you read. I don't have Marxist "baggage," and I don't see it in apoci/sympathizers that I talk to either. Are there aspects of a capitalist system that I don't like? Yes. Will I consider alternative solutions to those aspects, even if the alternative comes from a Marxist idea? Yes. Does that mean that I have to accept it because it's Marxist? No. Am I much different in this than other sympathizers? No. At least, I don't think so because I've never had any big fights over this kind of question with another sympathizer. But if you want to clarify what you mean then maybe I can address it.

By the way, did you know that both KDP and PUK have politburos? Why does KDP have one? It's a leftover from their original socialist structure, formed by the sophisticated socialists from Silêmanî (Talabanî's comrades) who invited Barzanî Namirî to become the honorary president of their KDP upon his return from the USSR. It's not really a surprise then, that Kurds worked closely with the Iraqi Communist Party for so many years.

4. Attacks against restaurants, bus stations, etc. . . . I think you need to talk to Teyrêbazên Azadîya Kurdistan (TAK) about that. It doesn't have anything to do with KONGRA-GEL and KONGRA-GEL has condemned their attacks.

FYI--a friend came up with a list that might help to clarify the whole "PKK" structure, which I am c&p'ing here:

* PKK is "Kurdistan Workers Party". It doesn't exist as a "party" anymore, but has been re-emerged as an "ideological school".
* ARGK is "Kurdistan Popular Liberation Army" (or People's Liberation Army of Kurdistan). It was later changed to "HPG" (Heza Parastina Gel - People's Defence/Defense Forces), as it changed into a "defence/defense force" as the policy of the army changed into "defending" rather than "attacking". (Back in the beginning of the 80ies, the ARGK was known as HRK, Heza Rizgariya Kurdistan, Liberation Forces of Kurdistan.)
* ERNK is "Popular Liberation Front of Kurdistan", the political wing of the PKK. Now ERNK is called "YDK", Yekitiya Demokratik a Gele Kurd (Democratic Union of People of Kurdistan). Just like "Sinn Fein" is the political wing of the IRA.
* PAJK (Partiya Azadiya Jinên Kurdistan - Liberation Party of Kurdistan's Women)
* YJA (Yekitiya Jinen Azad), the female guerrilla units within HPG.
* TECAK (Youth Movement of Kurdistan), formerly known as YCK, Yekitiya Ciwanen Kurdistan (Union of Kurdistan's Youth), now means "Youth Movement of Kurdistan".
* PCDK (Partiya Careseriya Demokratik a Kurdistan - Democratic Solution Party of Kurdistan), formerly known as "PKK-Bashur" (PKK-South), the PKK of "southern Kurdistan" (northern Iraq).
* PJAK, (Partiya Jiyana Azadiya Kurdistan - Free Life Party of Kurdistan), active in "eastern Kurdistan" (Iranian Kurdistan)
* HAK (Hezen Azadiya Kurdistan - Freedom Forces of Kurdistan), the military wing of PJAK.
* PYD (Partiya Yekitiya Demokratik - Democratic Union Party), active in "western Kurdistan" (Syrian Kurdistan).
* PRD (Partiya Rizgariya Demokratik - Democratic Liberation Party), illegal party in "northern Kurdistan" (Turkish Kurdistan).

I don't know if I may have forgotten any names, but these are parties WITHIN the KONGRA-GEL. KONGRA-GEL itself is a CONGRESS and NOT a party. All these parties are represented within KONGRA-GEL. That includes all the military wings. The CONGRESS itself is a member of the KOMA KOMALEN KURDISTAN (Kurdistan's Confederation, "KOMA KOMALEN" means Confederation in Kurdish.)

Anonymous, on the racism question, I take it you mean that non-Kurds won't believe there is any racism against Kurds? I agree that Arabs and Persians are more subtle. We have, from the Arabs, the example of Iraq, in which every single Baghdad government has courted Kurds (making promises and appeasement) in order to gain power, a breakdown between Kurds and the Arab faction when it gains power in Baghdad, the identification of the new Arab government with the "Arab nature" of the Iraqi state, followed by all out warfare with Kurds because Kurds will not accept second-class status followed by genocide.

As for the Persians, they do basically the same thing. They need Kurds to overthrow whatever regime is in Teheran and then they go back on their promises. As we have seen, the secular nature of the Shah's regime was virtually no different than the repressive nature of the mullah's regime when it came to the Kurdish situation. So when Iranian "democrats" want to call everyone together to overthrow their regime in Teheran, because they want "democracy" for everyone. . . well, I'm not fooled. They are just like the Turks in that they only want "democracy" for everyone who is willing to become assimilated, to become good little Iranians instead of good little Kurds.

So if the Iranians want to overthrow their government, hey! Be my guest! Knock yourselves out! Whatever you can afford!

philp said...

I certainly hope Ocalan will live up to the standard of Mustafa Barzani. I don't share your confidence.

Call it a hunch.

Litmus said...

mizgin's short answer: "Apo worship is a cult of personality situation, but it is a good cult of personality."

Hell, any cult of personality deal can be argued as such by its defenders. Ataturk worship is defended by Turks cause we are continuously under threat by foreign powers etc. rinse and repeat ad nauseum.

The video is indeed a sad video. It has the look of a utopic hippie commune with guns but no sex, and where men and women relations in that manner are forbidden until after "the Revolution," at which time woman's equality to man will be iron cast. Oh-kaay, call me when that happens boss. The problem is with expections like that, when their war ends, they're going to be utterly bored and disappointed or worse. Nothing is going to live up to their blissful existence of sitting next to cool running waters up in the mountains and reading interesting philosophy books with their rifles dangling from their shoulders and occassionally shooting the equally unlucky Turkish soldier. The things that actually make societies work aren't very romantic or exciting: taking out the trash, dealing with everyday annoying crap, boring jobs etc.

But their entire set-up seems to be taken out of Rebel Tactics 101, wherein it states that if you want to get the Western media's attention you should recruit and flaunt your women rebels because the West has a (soft spot for "chicks with guns" (See also: South America and Africa).

I suppose since Hitchens called Ocalan a "Kurdish Pol Pot" after he interviewed him, you will call Hitchens a "Kurd-hater".

Litmus said...

Also, the video illustrates that the group views itself not only as a military organization but as an organization promoting a way of life based on a certain political ideology.

Mizgîn said...

Actually, Litmus, the first thought that comes to mind about Hitchens are a few of lines from something he wrote after Apo's capture:

"The Turkish military authorities can babble and lie all they like, but it has now been proved beyond doubt that another nation exists within nominally Turkish borders, and that this nation is now being born. Those who reduce such a matter to a question of "terrorism" are condemned to view history through the optic of the police spy. [. . .] However, the present case [Apo's capture] is unadorned even by hypocrisy. Just as the European Union had begun to take a firmer line with Turkey on the Kurdish question, the Turkish authorities decided that they could deflect this pressure by appealing directly to the White House, the Pentagon and the CIA. Nor were they disappointed."

About Pol Pot, obviously Hitchens knows nothing. Or perhaps he was agreeable to the American government's own support of the Khmer Rouge, while simply objecting to its leader. Still, the subject of that particular article was an interesting one.

Personally, I prefer to have an ideology which creates high expectations, because it gives me something to strive for, it means that we can continue to work to make reality better. It doesn't mean that if society is not perfect tomorrow or next year, that the ideology is a failure or the goal is unattainable; it simply means that we must continue to strive to make society better and to create a status quo that everyone can live with, because the current status quo is not acceptable by any stretch of the imagination.

Those things "that actually make societies work" are not the things that you mention. Rather they are those abstract, ideological things like equality, liberty, freedom of expression, free association and assembly, the right to be secure in one's life, liberty and personal security, the right to work and receive fair remuneration for work, the right to fair due process, etc., and these things do not exist for Kurds unless Kurds agree to total assimilation, i.e. unless Kurds cease to be Kurds.

Ideology is always political.