Declaration of the Revolutionary Workers’ Party: No temporizing, no liquidation! Solve the Kurdish question!

The Turkish working class has no interests that clash with those of the Kurdish people. The established order oppresses them both. The emancipation of one will, if anything, clear the way for the emancipation of the other. No captive negotiator! Freedom of movement and contact to Ocalan! A free status to the Kurdish people! Democratic autonomy needs security!Make peace with the Kurds, make war with the US!

The disclosure of the fact that the MIT (Turkish intelligence) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan has been carrying out talks with Öcalan, as well as the visit to Öcalan by Ahmet Türk, Co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), and Ayla Akat Ata, MP for the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), have generated the hope in the country that the bloodletting can be stopped this time around and that the Kurdish question can be resolved. (DTK and BDP are both Kurdish legal institutions.) However, if one were to lend an ear to the spokespeople of the AKP government, all that is envisaged would turn out to be the “disarming of the PKK”. If we are told that this kind of language is utilised so as to appease the reaction coming from the so-called nationalists, then the question to be asked becomes how the next step will be taken. One cannot solve the Kurdish question by deceiving a section of the population! On the other hand, the proposals of the Kurdish side are clear. The protocols of Ocalan have been in the hands of the government since August 2009. Yet not one single proposal by the government to the Kurds has been disclosed. And not only have the government’s proposals not been disclosed to the public, neither have they been to the Kurdish side, as the leaders of the Kurdish movement themselves have made clear.

Everything indicates that this new initiative by the government either aims to liquidate the Kurdish movement while pretending to solve the Kurdish question, as was the case in the so-called policy of “overture” in 2009, or to temporize and play for time, as was the case in 2011, when the government wished to make it to the general elections without any major bumps on the road. Behind the current initiative probably lie the following factors: First, the Kurdish rank and file or even the Kurdish MP’s of the AKP itself have made it clear that serious malaise has been created in the Kurdish population due to the policies pursued by the government, in particular the arrogance displayed in the wake of the Roboski massacre (assassination by Turkish fighter jets of 34, mostly children, Kurdish civilians in December 2011) or the plans of the government concerning the lifting of the parliamentary immunity of the BDP MP’s. The AKP leadership wishes to be able to say “we did try, but they refused” and thus diffuse this malaise. Secondly, the developments in Syria have demonstrated that, having ignored the real character of the Kurdish question, i.e. the fact that it is an international question extended over four different territories in four different countries, the Turkish state has now got itself into a quandary. At present, a new autonomous region has emerged in Syrian Kurdistan, “Rojava” in Kurdish political terminology, under the hegemony of a party close to the Kurdish movement in Turkey. This autonomous region forms an immense obstacle in the way of Turkey’s Syria policy. From this angle, the neutralisation of the Kurdish movement in Turkey is very important for a prospective war between Turkey and Syria. Thirdly, the experience of 2012 has taught Tayyip Erdogan that he will not be able to keep the Kurdish question in the freezer until he has reshaped the constitution along the lines of a presidential system in 2013 and been elected president in 2014. Rather than procrastinate until late 2013 and take a risk when the presidential election is already on the agenda, Erdogan wants to reduce the impact of the Kurdish movement now to avoid headaches at the last moment. Finally, the sacking of close to a thousand workers by Tofaş (A major car producer owned by the biggest holding company of Turkey) on the first day of the new year has shown that 2013 will be  a year of economic crisis and the occupation of Şişecam (A major glass manufacturer owned by the biggest bank of Turkey.) has indicated the potential for fightback on the part of the working class. The government may be manoeuvring so as to appease the Kurdish movement on the eve of a tough struggle with the working class.

For all these reasons, the sections of the Turkish working class and labouring masses who wish to see the Kurdish question resolved on the basis of the principles of freedom should approach the process that has been initiated with great circumspection. The fact that Tayyip Erdogan is seeking support from the MHP (Nationalist Action Party, fascist) electorate  for purposes of revising the constitution and being elected president renders the probability of his settlement for a solution that would seriously meet the demands of the Kurdish people. The AKP government has still not learned to take up the Kurdish question in a serious manner.

One measure of the seriousness of the initiative would be the participation of all the components of the Kurdish movement in the negotiations. As everyone admits, Ocalan is not the sole representative of the Kurdish movement. As the MIT chief himself has expressed in no unclear terms, there are other centres of power, those in Kandil (The military headquarters of the PKK on the territory of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Northern Iraq), Europe (The diplomatic arm of the movement) and the BDP/DTK (The legal institutions of the Kurdish movement inside Turkey). In Kandil alone, as the MIT chief has himself pointed out, the organisation includes not only the Kurds of Turkey, but also those of Iran, Iraq, and Syria as well. To imagine that Ocalan, imprisoned for the last 14 years, can act as sole decision-maker would be a clear indication that the government is playing for time, even if the movement concedes that he is the “chief negotiator”. Anyway, both Kandil and Europe have immediately refused in unambiguous terms the conduct of the negotiations in this manner. If a minimally meaningful negotiation process is to be conducted, then it is indispensible that Ocalan be granted the freedom of movement and of contact. No one can negotiate from a position of captivity! It cannot be expected that someone who is captive should be able to conduct a healthy process of negotiations in such a position, however great the confidence of the people in him may be. Ocalan should immediately be granted the freedom of movement and contact as a preliminary step in the process.

The substance of the talks between the state and Ocalan so far has remained undisclosed. But the fact that spokespeople for the AKP government and its ideologues cast the question with the lightness of “disarming the PKK” implies an unacceptable orientation. Whoever evades the truth that the question of the PKK cannot be divorced from the Kurdish question is ultimately contributing to the bloodletting and to the loss of life of young people on both sides. The negotiations should definitely involve a free status of self-rule for the Kurds in accordance with their choice. As Selahattin Demirtaş (Co-chair of the BDP, the Kurdish party in parliament) said in his speech in Roboski on 28 December (Anniversary of the bombing to death of the 34 Kurdish civilians), this could be an autonomous Kurdistan, a federated Kurdistan, or an independent Kurdistan. Whatever it is, the question of this status must be on the table of negotiations. The minimal condition for a solution to the Kurdish question is the granting of a status to the Kurds under which they can live freely.

Once that is put on the agenda, the assumption on the necessity of disarming loses its raison d’être. To ask the Kurdish movement to disarm is an orientation that would have adverse consequences when considered in the light of the totality of Kurdish territories and the context of the Middle East as a whole. Set against the situation in the whole of Kurdistan, this implies leaving Barzani (President of the Kurdistan Regional Government, the Kurdish entity inside federal Iraq) as the only armed force. This will clear the way to the liquidation of the Kurdish movement in Turkey not only militarily, but also politically. The Middle East has become an arena for settling all kinds of accounts. There is a race to arm for all forces in the Middle East. The military power of the pro-imperialist or Salafi forces, whether under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army or otherwise, is but a striking instance of this trend. Kurdistan occupies a central space in the Middle East, at the point of intersection of four important states. Thus, to demand that the Kurdish movement of Turkey disarm vis-a-vis Barzani, who is totally subjugated to US imperialism, is to play into the hands of imperialism and push towards a balance of forces more favourable for it, both at the level of Kurdistan and in the Middle East at large. All the anti-imperialist forces of Turkey should be against this pro-imperialist step. What should instead be done is to equip the Kurdish entity to be defined by the new status with a security force.

The Turkish working class has no interests that clash with those of the Kurdish people. The established order oppresses them both. The emancipation of one will, if anything, clear the way for the emancipation of the other.

No captive negotiator! Freedom of movement and contact to Ocalan!

A free status to the Kurdish people!

Democratic autonomy needs security!

Make peace with the Kurds, make war with the US!

7 January 2013

Central Committee of the Revolutionary Workers’ Party (DIP)