Guerrilla Botan: The search for freedom becomes reality in the mountains

Xwinreş Botan is a guerrilla fighter with the HPG. In an interview with ANF, he spoke about his time as a minor in Turkish custody and the importance of the prison resistance for the situation in the mountains.

Every day there are new arrests and attacks against the population in AKP-ruled Turkey. Xwinreş Botan, a guerrilla fighter in the People's Defense Forces (HPG), experienced the violence of the Turkish state and its prison system first hand as a child.

In an interview with ANF, he assessed the hunger strike that began on 27 November to demand the end of the isolation imposed on Abdullah Öcalan, as well as the attacks by the Turkish state in the guerrilla areas and the growing resistance to them.

Guerrilla Botan's decision to go to the mountains followed an arrest in 2009: “We were under 18 and the reason we were arrested was because we identified with the freedom movement. My family's love for our country and its commitment to the movement has ensured that I too followed the path marked by the movement. Because of this sympathy and this identification, I started my political work. I got involved wherever something was needed. During that time, like every revolutionary youth, I tried to get involved in any way I could."

Under 18 and in Turkish custody

As a result of his involvement, guerrilla Xwinreş Botan spent six months in prison. “It immediately appeared to me that the ideals of the movement were among the prisoners. And that gave you strength.” After his release from prison he got even more involved. “I continued to work until 2010. During that time there were house searches every week. The enemy would not allow my family or me to live in peace. What they were saying with these searches was 'if we want, we can lock you up again at any time.' This situation prompted me to put even more effort into my work. At the time, I didn't have much contact with my family anyway because I was wanted. The choice I faced was either to go to prison or to the free mountains of Kurdistan. Of course the mountains attracted me more and so I decided to join the guerrillas."

Another arrest

In the course of his joining process, Xwinreş Botan was betrayed by a collaborator and arrested again. He was in custody for around two years. “Even in court, we did not move a bit from our position, which is based on the line of the movement and the freedom of our president, Abdullah Öcalan. This of course worried the enemy and therefore long prison terms were handed down despite the young age. The morals and demeanour of friends in prison keep you on your feet and give you will. Our external circumstances may have been bounded by four walls, but our ideals and thinking were strong. This situation was reflected in the mutual solidarity always present."

The foundations of free life were laid in prison

As guerrilla Botan said, neither he nor his family were surprised by the repression: “With this trial they wanted to wage a psychological war against me and my family. But it didn't work for me or my family. Because we already knew from the beginning of our political involvement what our enemies were capable of. In prison, our hope of freedom kept us on our feet. This movement teaches people to always keep their hope. In 2013 I was able to evade the enemy and went to the free mountains of Kurdistan. The search for freedom becomes a reality in the mountains. But the foundations for this free life were laid in prisons in the 1980s. They were laid by our friends who led the movement: Kemal, Mazlum, Hayri and others laid this foundation.”

Öcalan's ideas have an impact on the entire Middle East

Talking about the 22 years of isolation of the Kurdish people’s leader and PKK founder Abdullah Öcalan, guerrilla Xwinreş Botan said that this solitary confinement regime is also directed against the society. “Öcalan's ideas have an impact on the entire Middle East. That is why there are actions demanding his freedom in Kurdistan, Turkey and other parts of the world. The friends in the prisons are in charge of these actions. Together with them a struggle is waged in the guerrilla areas, in society and on all other levels. Everyone must take action for this fight. There are tens of thousands of political prisoners in the regime's prisons with families outside. Everyone must do their part in this struggle.”

The enemy has raised their aggressions to the highest level

Guerrilla Botan added: “We are in a phase where we are very close to freedom. My appeal goes primarily to the youth of Kurdistan and to the mothers. Both did their job well at all times. And the current process is even more important. It is the phase when its either existence or annihilation. We are in the phase of the liberation of Öcalan, the phase of the liberation of Kurdistan. If we don't all take our responsibility now, as young people and as revolutionaries, it could be too late. The enemy has raised their aggressions to the highest level. The reason for this is that the regime is about to end. So far it has secured its existence with hostility towards the Kurds. All kinds of attacks were made to massacre the population. The state committed atrocities never seen before. The goal of all of this is to maintain one's own power."

Stand beside prison resistance and guerrillas

Xwinreş Botan continued: “If everyone does their job properly, the regime won't last longer than a year. This year will be the year of Abdullah Öcalan's freedom and the year of our people's freedom. The guerrillas defended their positions against the continous attacks in all areas at the highest level.

Our enemies claim at every opportunity: 'We have defeated the guerrillas.' Indeed, while the guerrillas' selfless struggle has come with losses, they have a stronger position and morale than ever before. These attacks do not weaken us, they only strengthen our belief in freedom and are a reason to expand our struggle. As I said earlier, the foundations for this movement were laid in prison. Now we cannot leave the resistance in prisons alone. Everyone must be actively involved in this struggle and give strength and morality to the resistance of the prisoners.

The guerrillas dealt the enemy some hard blows over the past year. Above all, the resistance in Heftanîn weakened our enemies. The source of this resistance is the prisons. Everyone should know that as long as a drop of blood flows in our veins, we will progress on the line of president Öcalan. Everyone should know this and act accordingly. Nobody can say that they cannot contribute anything. We all have to stand by the prison resistance and the guerrillas."