Sunday, November 16, 2008


"Our efforts for peace have wrongly been interpreted as weakness. There is no other explanation for statements like the PKK and Ocalan are practically finished or, our initiatives were only tactical. So they claimed that they only needed to proceed a little bit tougher in order to smash the PKK. So they increased their attacks on the Kurdish liberation movement. Nobody asks, however, why they never succeeded?"
~ Abdullah Öcalan, War and Peace in Kurdistan.

Here is the final section of Öcalan's War and Peace in Kurdistan:

The present situation and suggestions for a solution

The Kurdish-Turkish relations in Turkey play a key role with a view to a solution of the Kurdish question. In this respect, the Kurds in Iraq, Iran, and Syria have only a limited potential and can probably only support a possible overall solution. The Kurds in Iraq give a very good example. The semi-state Kurdish autonomy is indirectly the result of worldwide efforts on the part of Turkey, the U.S. and their allies to denounce the PKK as a terror organization. Without consent by Ankara this “solution” would not have been possible. The chaos caused by this solution is obvious, and the result unforeseeable. It is also unclear, which direction the feudal-liberal Kurdish national authority in Iraq will take in the long run and how it will affect Iran, Syria, and Turkey. There is the danger of a regional escalation of the conflict similar in shape to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A flare-up of Kurdish nationalism might even radicalize the Persian, Arab and Turkish nationalists further, making a solution of the problem more difficult.

This prospect needs to be contrasted with a solution free of nationalist aspirations, which recognizes the existing territorial borders. In return, the status of the Kurds will be put down in the respective constitutions thus warranting their rights concerning culture, language, and political participation. Such a model would be largely in accordance with the historical and societal realities of the region.

In the light of this, making peace with the Kurds seems inevitable. It is highly improbable that the present war or any future war will yield anything else but a Pyrrhus’ victory. Therefore, this war must be put to an end. It has been lasting too long already. It is in the interest of all countries of the region to follow the example of other countries and take the necessary steps.

The Kurds only demand that their existence be respected; they demand freedom of culture and a fully democratic system. A more humane and modest solution is impossible. The examples of South Africa, Palestine, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Corsica demonstrate the ways in which different modern countries have been able to solve or handle similar problems in the course of their history. Furthermore, these comparisons help us to find a more objective approach to our own problems.

Turning our backs to violence as a means of solving the Kurdish question and overcoming the repressive policy of denial at least in part, are closely connected to the fact that we upheld the democratic option. The ban on Kurdish language and culture, education and broadcasting is in itself a terrorist act and practically invites counter violence. Violence, however, has been used by both sides to an extent that goes clearly beyond legitimate self defense.

Many movements today take to even more extreme methods. However, we have declared unilateral ceasefires several times, we have withdrawn large numbers of our fighters from Turkish territory, and thus refuted the accusation of terrorism. Our peace efforts, however, have been ignored over the years. Our initiatives never met a response. Rather, a group of Kurdish politicians sent out as ambassadors of peace was detained and handed long prison terms. Our efforts for peace have wrongly been interpreted as weakness. There is no other explanation for statements like the PKK and Ocalan are practically finished or, our initiatives were only tactical. So they claimed that they only needed to proceed a little bit tougher in order to smash the PKK. So they increased their attacks on the Kurdish liberation movement. Nobody asks, however, why they never succeeded? It is impossible to solve the Kurdish question by means of violence. The attitude described above also contributed to the failure of the ceasefire that began on October 1, 2006. I had called on the PKK to offer this ceasefire. Some Intellectuals and non-government organizations had demanded such a step. However, again it was not taken seriously. Instead, racism and chauvinism were stirred up creating an atmosphere of confrontation. Besides, we must not forget that the AKP also uses this issue to play down their own problems with the Kemalist elite by making compromises with the Army and speculating on the escalation of the Kurdish problem. Presently, the government restricts itself to some half-hearted measures in order to wrench some concessions from the EU. They are trying to win time with the help of the harmonization laws enacted in the context of the EU accession process. In reality, these supposed reforms are just waste-paper.

The exacerbating conflict is cause for concern. Nevertheless, I will not give up my hopes for a just peace. It can become possible at any time.

I offer the Turkish society a simple solution. We demand a democratic nation. We are not opposed to the unitary state and republic. We accept the republic, its unitary structure and laicism. However, we believe, that it must be redefined as a democratic state respecting peoples, cultures and rights. On this basis, the Kurds must be free to organize in a way that they can live their culture and language and can develop economically and ecologically. This would allow Kurds, Turks, and other cultures to come together under the roof of a democratic nation in Turkey. This is only possible, though, with a democratic constitution and an advanced legal framework warranting respect for different cultures.

Our idea of a democratic nation is not defined by flags and borders. Our idea of a democratic nation embraces a model based on democracy instead of a model based on state structures and ethnic origins. Turkey needs to define itself as a country, which includes all ethnic groups. This would be a model based on human rights instead of religion or race. Our idea of a democratic nation embraces all ethnic groups and cultures.

Against this background let me summarize the solution I propose:

* The Kurdish question is to be treated as a fundamental question of democratization. The Kurdish identity must be put down in the constitution and integrated in the legal system. The new constitution shall contain an article of the following wording:

“The constitution of the Turkish republic recognizes the existence and the expression of all its cultures in a democratic way.” This would be sufficient.

* Cultural and language rights must be protected by law There must not be any restrictions for radio, TV, and press. Kurdish programs and programs in other languages must be treated by the same rules and regulations as Turkish programs. The same must be true for cultural activities.

* Kurdish should be taught in elementary schools. People who want their kids to get such an education, must be able to send them to such a school. High schools should offer lessons on Kurdish culture, language, and literature as elective courses. Universities must be permitted to establish institutes for Kurdish language, literature, culture, and history.

* The freedom of expression and organization must not be restricted. Political activities must not be restricted or regulated by the state. This must also be true in the context of the Kurdish question without restriction.

* Party and election laws must be subjected to a democratic reform. The laws must warrant the participation of the Kurdish people and all other democratic groups in the process of democratic decision-making.

* The village-guard system and the illegal networks within the state-structures must be disbanded.

* People who have been evicted from their villages during the war must be allowed to return without impediments. All administrative, legal, economical, or social measures necessary must be met. Furthermore, a developmental program must be initiated In order to help the Kurdish population to earn a living and improve the level of living.

* A law for peace and participation in the society shall be enacted. This law shall enable the members of the guerilla, the imprisoned, and those who are in exile, to take part in the public life without any preconditions.

Additionally, immediate measures on the road to a solution need to be discussed. A democratic action plan must be formulated and put into practice. In order to reconcile the society truth and justice commissions shall be set up. Both sides must find out what they have done wrong and discuss it openly. This is the only way to achieve the reconciliation of the society.

Whenever states or organizations cannot make progress anymore, intellectuals may serve as mediators. South Africa, Northern Ireland, or Sierra Leone has made positive experiences with this model. They may take the role of arbitrators, with the help of whom both parties can be moved in the direction of a just peace. The commissions may include intellectuals, lawyers, physicians, or scientists. When the day comes that we put down our arms, it will only be into the hands of such a commission, provided it is a commission determined to achieve justice.

Why would we surrender our arms without the prospect of justice? The beginning of such a process also depends on goodwill and dialogue. Should indeed a dialogue come about, we will be able to begin a process similar to the last unlimited ceasefire.

I am prepared to do all I can. The government, however, needs to show its will for peace. It needs to take the initiative. This is what they need to do, if they do not wish to be responsible for the consequences all on their own.

In case our efforts for a peaceful solution might fail or a sacrificed to day by day politics, power struggles or profit-seeking, the present conflict will exacerbate and its end will become unforeseeable. The chaos following will see no winners.

At last, Turkey needs to master the strength to recognize its own reality, the reality of the Kurdish existence and global dynamics. A state which denies reality will eventually and inevitably find itself on the brink of existence.

It is crucial, therefore, to take the steps that will lead this country to a lasting peace.

Abdulla Ocalan
One-person-prison, Imrali Island

The previous sections of War and Peace in Kurdistan can be found here and here. The document is available for download from the International Initiative Freedom for Öcalan as a .pdf document.


Janice said...


Again, thank you for translating into English! I must say that I was confused at first probably because my understanding of the whole Kurdish issue is very limited.

When reading the warnings ("the present conflict will exacerbate..."), I was reminded of a PJAK press statement that said it was stopping its attack against Iran. I read further and saw that the new target was Turkey! Is this the exacerbation referenced--exemplified by the Kurdish group from Iran changing its focus to Turkey?

I acknowledge my ignorance of the issue and I look forward to your publishings to help clear some of my confusion.

Anonymous said...

Ocalan has every right to make whatever proposal he sees fit for the Kurds of Turkey. If he wants to accept the unitary state, he can certainly push for individual rights & "democracy".

But, why exactly does he maintain that the Southern Kurds' "nationalistic" approach could inflame the region and that they too should settle for individual rights? The Southern Kurds ask for federalism. That is well within the concept of democracy. No one is asking for an independent Kurdistan -- everyone can breath a sigh of relief.

It seems though that what Ocalan implies is that any rights for the Southern Kurds will come at the expense of the PKK.

But, let me be the devil's advocate. If Ocalan does not want to inflame nationalistic sentiment and work towards democracy and wants to eliminate the 'war mentality' why does he not propose to disarm the PKK completely? That way, the PKK would lose its terrorist label, there would be increased pressure upon Turkey to solve the Kurdish problem democratically & the Southern Kurds would not be charged with aiding and abetting terror any time they said no to turkey.


Mizgîn said...

Janice, I did not translate Ocalan's information nor DTP's information. DTP has their own translators because the DTP information presented here is from the book they presented in the TBMM. They presented the book in Turkish, Kurdish and English.

As for Ocalan's information, a comrade in Germany is the one to thank for the translation.

I don't believe the "exacerbating conflict" referred to by Ocalan is a reference to PJAK. In the previous paragraph, Ocalan speaks of the recent ceasefire, how such things are taken as a sign of weakness, and that racism and chauvinism are stirred up. This is a typical response of the regime.

Nistiman, Ocalan answered your devil's advocate question in this post very clearly.

As for KRG, it should be very grateful for PKK. The only thing that forced Ahmet Davutoglu and Mehmet Ozcelik go to the Barzanis and speak to them as if they were human beings are PKK and their arms. It's a sign of the Ankara regime's desperation that, after five years, it's finally had to deal directly with those it considers far, far beneath it on the evolutionary scale.

Really, KRG should bend down and pray for PKK five times a day.

Anonymous said...

Mizgin, the last thing anyone needs -- especially in the Middle East -- are more people bending down and praying so I'd prefer to see the KRG standing -- in all respects.

Ocalan does give his answer -- that the PKK can initiate a similar ceasefire if there is justice and the beginning of dialogue. It just is not coherent within the context of the rest of his statements. He cannot say "democracy, end to nationalism, end to militarism" and continue with the armed struggle.
As well, the PKK has initiated ceasefires in the past without such guarantee of Justice nor any prospect of peace. In fact, the last instigator of the peace process was Ocalan's illegal capture -- hardly a peaceful overture on the part of Turkey! So, I don't buy it.

What Ocalan is really offering to Turkey is -- Let us be the Good Kurds for a change! The Southern Kurds are the nationalists that will set the region back. We will protect the unitarian structures already in place in the Middle East. We don't even want federalism.

It's a good offer -- for Turkey and maybe even for Turkish Kurds.