Demirtas: Not without Ocalan!

Imprisoned Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas spoke against the Imrali isolation and in support of Leyla Guven’s resistance and said, “Not without Ocalan”.

HDP’s imprisoned former co-chair Selahattin Demirtas wrote an article for the Yeni Yasam newspaper on Leyla Guven’s resistance.


Highlights from Demirtas’s article are as follows:

“Ms. Leyla Guven has been on a hunger strike for 54 days. Ms. Guven, unlawfully held in the Diyarbakir Prison despite her election to the parliament, has laid her body on the line for an extremely legitimate and rightful demand.

Ms. Leyla Guven is leading an important call about Mr. Ocalan, who was only able to meet with his brother once in April 2015 and hasn’t been heard from since. Ms. Guven’s stance is above all dignified and respectable. To defend and protect our friend’s right to live, our duty is to stand as strong and resolute as possible behind her demand and ensure that she achieves results as soon as possible.

The reason such an important and vital matter has failed to enter the national and international public agenda is the extreme pressure, attacks and embargo by the government. Such that even 70 year old mothers who want to draw attention to the issue are detained from party offices in illegal raids.


Ms. Leyla Guven, in pointing to the epicenter of these oppressive conditions, to Imrali and to Mr. Ocalan’s situation, is pointing to the way out of this bind. So, instead of waiting for conditions to be suitable to put Guven’s rightful demand on the agenda, we must understand and explain to others that this demand itself is a struggle to change the conditions.

Mr. Ocalan has gained significant trust in Turkey’s society, with his peaceful approaches, reasonable suggestions and sincere will especially during solution processes. But due to squandered opportunities and the tumultous time in between, these may be forgotten or ignored. Today, the duty that befalls democratic politics, civil society, the press and our people as a whole is to remind the public in Turkey and the world in an appropriate manner, language and method.

So, we must be able to explain well and correctly why Leyla Guven’s demand is important, why this isn’t just her issue and why the matter is relevant to every citizen of the Republic of Turkey from the Black Sea to the Aegean, from Marmara to the East, to the Mediterranean. There have always been extensive and detailed campaigns and planning to this end, but during this time the matter should be handled with all the gravity it requires and focused on with all resources. Without discrimination, all media institutions, all editors in chief, all columnists, all television hosts, all unions, parties and professional organizations, NGOs should be visited by committees and the significance and delicate nature of the matter must be relayed. The public should be informed through popular meetings, discussions and conferences.

To refresh memories, short reports and brochures could be prepared on the positive developments in the recent past and Mr. Ocalan’s role in them. With short videos, there could be small reminders in social media. Of course there are similar efforts, but more extensive, effective and result oriented creative methods should urgently be implemented.


Leyla Guven’s hunger strike started before the US decision to withdraw from Syria, and of course the two are not related. But this development alone creates an opportunity for a new maneuver. Against the AKP-MHP narrative that acts like there are no other options in Syria and Rojava outside of military intervention and war, we must shout out loud: There is another option, the most reasonable and best option, which is Mr. Ocalan.

Mr. Ocalan foresaw all these possibilities, threats and dangers during the Imrali Peace Process that started in 2013, and proposed a new and great Turkish-Kurdish peace and a strategic union in the Middle East. If his reasonable and appropriate suggestions had been taken into consideration, there would not be so much pain in the country or abroad.

Now, as the US withdraws from Syria, a discussion on which military force should fill the void will not lead to any permanent solution. If there is going to be a void, it should be filled by a strategic alliance of peoples.

Expecting an extensive political maneuver from the Erdogan-Bahceli mindset and hoping that they will clear the path for a peace process would be foolish and naive. But we don’t have to ignore a peace option with Ocalan just because this political clique doesn’t want it.


So, now is just the right time. Lending our voice to Leyla’s and organizing this demand on a correct foundation to turn it into a maneuver is politics, and the political struggle itself. Mr. Ocalan is a subject for politics, not penal law or criminology. This matter should not be allowed to be handled as a criminal case, none should bow down to this. The state and the government are aware of Mr. Ocalan’s political power as much as we are. That is the reason for the isolation. So, we must not surrender to this hostage situation, smothering of politics and imposition of war.


Lastly, one could ask: Why Ocalan, why not somebody else? Tell them this: Peace building leaderships develop in historic processes and mature in time, they are not artificial. They have a weight among the people and in politics, as well as international power balances. One cannot ignore or change these facts. Attempting to create an alternative to such leadership is futile. It would be like contracting the TOKI to build another Agri Mountain next to the original. And, Mr. Ocalan has amassed quite the experience and is genuine due to the search for peace he has put forth since ‘93. It all comes to tearing down prejudices and engaging the intellect. We, the HDP, HDK, DTK, DBP and other such political organizations, can play a role in the construction of peace. Being the founding leader of peace is something else. That is why nothing can happen without Ocalan, and that is that.”