Hozat: We must ensure the physical freedom of Abdullah Öcalan

Besê Hozat talks in detail about the situation of the opposition both inside and outside the state and analyses the tasks and dangers that lie ahead of them, as well as the situation of Abdullah Öcalan and the significance of the month of May.

Besê Hozat, co-chair of the KCK Executive Council, spoke about the situation of  Kurdish people's leader Abdullah Öcalan and the significance of the month of May for the Kurdish liberation movement.

First of all, let’s start with the situation of the Kurdish people’s leader, Abdullah Öcalan, and the campaign for his freedom. How do you assess the current situation? What do you assess the approach of the international institutions, especially the restrained approach of the ‘European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment’ (CPT)?

We are constantly making evaluations. The global campaign for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo [Abdullah Öcalan] has reached an important stage. However, it is very important to understand the situation of the CPT and the Council of Europe, especially the forces that carried out the international conspiracy and established the Imrali isolation and torture system. It is necessary to examine and evaluate it and all its dimensions, over and over again. The genocide policies practiced in Imrali do not develop independently of these forces. An international conspiracy was developed against Rêber Apo with the aim of his destruction. This could not be achieved. Rêber Apo’s foresight, intuition, and precautions nullified this attack. In fact, they attempted an attack like this before February 15th too, but this came to naught.

After Rêber Apo was abducted to Turkey, a system was created on Imrali by the US, particularly by the CIA, in which Europe and the CPT was directly involved. This system is an international system and its responsibility was later assigned to Turkey. But this does not mean that those forces are no longer responsible because it was they who established this system in the first place. For 25 years, solitary confinement, torture, and isolation have been practiced in Imrali without interruption. For the last four years, there has been no sign of life, only absolute isolation. Rêber Apo is not able to see even his lawyers. He is completely cut off from the outside. No information can be received from Imrali. There has been no sign of life from Imrali for four years. This system is being carried out in such a manner under the supervision of international powers.

A press release was made by the CPT recently. The last time they went to Imrali was in September 2022, but they announced that they could not present the report of their visit to the public because Turkey did not approve it. Again in 2023, they announced that one of their delegations went to Turkey, visited various prisons there, made examinations, but did not go to Imrali. Why didn’t the CPT go to Imrali in 2023? This is a big question mark. This is very thought-provoking. They did not go to a prison that is under absolute isolation, as they once put it themselves. They did not go to the prison where the Kurdish people’s leader is imprisoned, and they did not examine it. The CPT has to explain why. The statements made by the CPT presidency have no value. There is nothing satisfactory about those remarks. The statement of the CPT presidency produced no result other than increasing the question marks in minds and raising concerns. In 2022, they did not disclose their September 2022 report. In 2023, they went to Turkey, but they did not visit Imrali. No satisfactory explanation for this can be given to the public or to the Kurds. What does the Council of Europe and European countries want to do? What do the powers that built this system want to do? The Kurdish people want an explanation.

Right now, they are in complicity with the Turkish state. From the beginning, there was a plan to neutralize Rêber Apo, aiming for his liquidation. When this plan did not work, they decided to follow a time-extended annihilation policy instead. These international forces are a partner in the genocide policies of the Turkish state against the Kurds. They seek a civil war to break out. Turkey’s war against the Kurds is a war of genocide and is in the interest of these powers. They think that in this way they will be able to control Turkey and use it in their Middle East policies. They have designed this policy accordingly. But society is being subjected to genocide. They support the genocide policies being carried out against an entire people, and by wearing various masks and playing games with the law, they act as if they are not involved in this. They are trying to deceive society, the Kurds, and the rest of the world. No one is fooled by this anymore; no one respects it. These masks have fallen. This hypocritical, self-interested, pragmatic approach of Europe has been exposed. This criminal practice of the CPT, which has become a political tool of Europe, and of the Council of Europe, which goes beyond hypocrisy, needs to be exposed even more. It is necessary to struggle against this approach and force them to adopt the correct attitude. This is very important. We need to nullify and prevent the further support of these forces for the Turkish state’s Kurdish genocide policy through our struggle. We have this power of struggle; we simply need to carry it out in a much stronger and more organized way.

Recently, there have been raids against Medya Haber, Stêrk TV, and the Kurdish press in Europe. It is said that Belgium carried out these attacks at the request of France. We cannot consider these attacks independent of what I have been talking about. Europe’s attitude towards the practices on Rêber Apo cannot be considered different from these attacks. These attacks are also part of this. In other words, Europe’s supportive attitude towards the Kurdish genocide policy happens everywhere, and it turns into attacks on Kurdish institutions and the Kurdish press, even in their own countries in Europe. This has done great harm to the peoples of Europe. Let me point this out: the current policy of European countries is causing great harm to European society. Therefore, it is necessary to further spread the paradigm and the ideas of Rêber Apo to European society, to draw them into the struggle, and to globalize and grow the freedom campaign for Rêber Apo much more.

The Turkish state is conducting a genocide policy against Kurds, which is centered in Imrali. Especially for the last four years, there has been no news from Imrali. We have seen the Minister of Justice’s disrespectful statements. He really mocked the Kurdish people, the society in Turkey, and the world. My comrades have already evaluated this the other day; of course, if he had no assurance and did not rely on the current policies and attitudes of international powers, he could not have spoken in such a reckless, despicable, and disrespectful manner. He says, “There is no isolation in Imrali.” This is a lie. There is a system of torture and genocide in Imrali, there is absolute isolation; the law is being trampled, no rule of law is being applied, crimes against humanity are being committed. Still, the Minister of Justice says, “There is no isolation in Imrali!” Can there be such a despicable approach?

During the election phase, we saw AKP officials begging the Kurds to vote for them in order to win Istanbul. “Vote for Murat Kurum”, they said, “and we will send a lawyer to Imrali to meet with Ocalan if necessary.” They wanted to make Imrali, the isolation system in Imrali, and the situation of Rêber Apo a bargaining chip in such a despicable way.

We always point out that no law is applied in Imrali, and there is no morality that can be found there. There is solely immoral politics and practices. The situation of Rêber Apo has been completely instrumentalized. In the hands of a fascist power, he is wanted to be turned into a political tool and made a chip of bargaining. He is wanted to be turned into a blackmail, a threat, a bargaining tool to break the will of the Kurds, to liquidate the Kurds and their struggle for freedom, and to take the Kurds into captivity. That is why Rêber Apo has taken such a strict stand. In his most recent conversation with his brother, Mehmet Ocalan, he took a strict stance against this. “You are all committing a crime,” he said. “You will wage a legal struggle; you will impose the legal process,” he said. “The torture in Imrali is a crime against humanity. You will fight against it; you will not take positions that legitimize it.” Rêber Apo understood that the short phone conversation with his brother was a method to try to legitimize the isolation and torture system in Imrali. He found it to be very dangerous. He considered it as falling into the state’s trap. “Don’t fall for such games. Be conscious; act consciously and logically,” he said. “Evaluate and see the ideological and political dimensions of the issue in all its dimensions,” he said. It is necessary to wage a very strong struggle regarding this issue. We need to strengthen the global campaign for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo, particularly in Northern Kurdistan and Turkey.

Now, protests under the slogan ‘Give Freedom a Voice’ are being developed, which is important. The families of those imprisoned are protesting one or two days a week in support of the prison resistance and against the isolation in Imrali, but still, this is not enough. This situation concerns not only the families of prisoners but millions of Kurdish people. It concerns a society of forty to fifty million; it concerns humanity. The current situation is a crime against humanity. This is also a conspiracy against Turkish society. It is a trap. In this way, the future of the peoples and society of Turkey is being darkened. In this way, Turkey is being thrown into hellfire. If it continues in this manner, this situation will lead to civil war. It seems that both the international powers and this fascist government want this. This means the disintegration of Turkey. Turkish society must be aware of this and take a stance against it. This system of genocide, torture, and isolation applied on Rêber Apo in Imrali is not only applied on the Kurdish people in the person of Rêber Apo; it is also applied on society and peoples of Turkey. It is applied on all women and humanity. As much as it is a conspiracy against the Kurdish people, it is also a conspiracy against the peoples of Turkey. It is a scenario of hell. It is a plan for a dark future. Turkish intellectuals need to be critical in this regard; they have to raise awareness and sensitize Turkish society on this issue. All democratic forces must oppose the Imrali torture and isolation system. The main source of lawlessness is the lawlessness in Imrali. We always underline this fact. Only when law is applied in Imrali, will law and order would come to Turkey. In order to perpetuate the lawlessness in Imrali, the law is not applied throughout the whole of Turkey. At the moment, an enemy law, a genocidal law, is being applied everywhere. Can law, democracy, and justice come to Turkey in a place like Kurdistan, in a place like Imrali, where genocide law and enemy law are applied? Is it possible that fascism will reign in the east of Turkey while the west is democratic? What I want to stress out is that this is not only a problem of the Kurds; it is also a problem of all the peoples of Turkey. This is not only the problem of Kurdish intellectuals but also of all Turkish intellectuals and the opposition of the country, because it concerns the fate and survival of Turkey.

In this regard, we need to expand the global freedom campaign in a very strong way by including people from all walks of life. It is insufficient in its current form. There is a continuous struggle, of course, and this is without a doubt very meaningful. There are very important results in the political and social dimensions, but they are not enough. The campaign needs to be enriched. It must be conducted in a much more comprehensive way, by involving every part of society, by spreading the thought and paradigm of Rêber Apo in a stronger and more creative way, and by globalizing and universalizing the campaign in the strongest way possible. It is necessary to achieve results and to ensure the physical freedom of Rêber Apo.

Recently, there have been several statements on your part regarding the month of May as the ‘Month of Martyrs’ and regarding May 18th as the ‘Day of Martyrs’. Can you open up on this and the importance of the month?

On May 18, 1977, Haki Karer was murdered in Antep by an agent provocateur of the organization called Stêrka Sor. Again, on May 18, 1973, Ibrahim Kaypakkaya, one of the revolutionary leaders of Turkey, was murdered in prison under torture. By commemorating Haki Karer and Ibrahim Kaypakkaya, I commemorate all martyrs of the month of May with respect, love and gratitude. May 18th is declared and commemorated as ‘Martyrs’ Day’ in the history of our Party as it is the martyrdom day of Haki Karer and the month of May is defined and commemorated as the ‘Month of Martyrs’. Many valuable comrades were martyred during May, many of them played leading roles in the Kurdish freedom movement. Just to name some of them; Mehmet Karasungur, Hozan Mizgîn, Haki Karer, Ferhat Kurtay and his friends, Kasim Engin, also Deniz Gezmiş, Ibrahim Kaypakkaya, Sinan Cemgil from the revolutionary movement in Turkey. Both in terms of the Kurdish freedom movement and the revolutionary movement in Turkey, it is a month in which pioneering leaders were martyred. In this sense, May is also a month that determines the identity and character of the Kurdish freedom movement.

The struggle of the PKK has always developed on the tenets of democratic socialism and the paradigm of democratic nation. In fact, even though it has been influenced by real socialism since its foundation and even since the formation of the initial group, the PKK has been a movement that has fought on the line of democratic socialism, according to the paradigm and dialectic of the democratic nation. Therefore, the PKK became a party and movement that struggles both for Kurdistan and universally. This is how it developed. The revolution in Kurdistan has always been intertwined with the revolution in Turkey. Therefore, we say that the democratic solution to the Kurdish question is also the democratization of Turkey. We say that a free Kurdistan is a democratic Turkey. This struggle will further grow accordingly by universalizing. If we manage to achieve this, then we can claim our struggle as worthy of comrade Haki Karer, comrade Ibrahim Kaypakkaya, and all the martyrs of the month of May. Like this, it would be a correct struggle. Based on this, we will continue to strengthen and further broaden the struggle uninterruptedly until we achieve results that are worthy of this month.

Last week, people who had been detained as part of the ‘Kobane trials’ where Turkish courts sentenced dozens pro-Kurdish politicians to between nine and 30 years in prison. What would you like to say about these trials? 

The Kobane political-genocidal trial has been going on for years, it is a part of the ongoing Kurdish genocide attempts and war. It is the political part of the genocide policies. In public opinion, the Kurdish movement and the democracy movement in Turkey define it as the ‘Kobane Conspiracy Trial’, but from our point of view, it is a political-genocidal trial. It is being carried out as part of these genocide policies, with the aim of liquidating democratic politics. As the Kurdish genocide proceeds, heavy attacks are conducted on the political front while aiming to liquidate the guerrilla on the military front. It wants to take control of the will of Kurdish society by practicing cultural genocide and subjecting society to complete assimilation. Through political genocide, the Turkish state wants to liquidate the political heritage, the democratic politics, the political representatives of the Kurdish movement, the democratic movement, which was formed through decades of struggle. They want to render Kurds without representation, without a voice, and without a will in the political arena. We see and evaluate it as part of a total genocide attack. The court verdicts regarding the Kobane political-genocidal trial have been announced. These evaluations we have made are fully justified. Some people; dear Gültan Kişanak, Sabahat Tuncel, Ayla Akat Ata, and some others were released from prison. This is also part of their game of law; it is a deception. They want to create the idea that the law is working perfectly in Turkey where people who have completed their sentences are being released. This is how the Turkish state is trying to deceive society and the world. They are trying to create the perception that the law is working in Turkey. Now, the prosecutor’s office has filed an objection against Gültan Kişanak and Sabahat Tuncel, asking for their re-arrest. That is the game they play. It is a game of law played to deceive the public. In reality, there is no just law being applied.

This trial is a political trial from beginning to end; it is a political genocide case. And it continues in this form. There is neither law nor justice in Turkey. The situation in Imrali and in the prisons in Turkey is obvious. They are trying to deceive the public.

Importantly, on the same day, seven generals who were serving time for being part of Ergenekon were also released. These so-called ‘generals of the February 28 coup’ have been in prison for years. Why were they released on the same day? That situation is already being evaluated by several political actors. The aim is to silence the opposition. If the current government manages to silence the government, no one, be it the CHP or the other opposition parties and various liberal democratic groups, will criticize the government. By releasing the generals, they act as if the law is working and that justice has been served. It is a perception that everything is working according to the law and the constitution. For years, the CHP has been leading the struggle for the release of these generals. The government was heavily criticized on this issue. Across Turkey, the opposition (within the system) had been criticizing the government for not releasing these generals. Now, by releasing them, the government has given incentives to the opposition to silence them, especially the CHP. By releasing the generals, they are trying to keep the Kobane trial’s off the agenda. They do not want people to make a fuss about the lawlessness and injustice against Kurds. This is very clear. It leaves no room for discussion.

Dirty politics are being carried out by the government right now. Erdoğan speaks about “a period of détente,” while CHP chairman Ozgur Ozel contradicted this and said, “No, right now there is no kind of détente period, but a period of normalization.” There is a very intense discussion about the contradiction between détente and normalization. Of course, this agenda is an agenda of special war; It is a policy of deception, feeding the Kurds and society in Turkey false expectation. The government of the fascist AKP-MHP is playing deceitful games. It considers itself the continuation of the Ottoman Empire. In the Ottoman Empire, the political games of the palace were famous. Those games could not manage to save this government either. The government is trying to sustain and prolong its rule. These discourses regarding a period of détente are aimed at neutralizing the opposition. In particular, it is aimed at neutralizing the opposition within the system.