The Turkish bourgeoisie’s war threat to Syria with the support of US imperialism, the driving of the PKK leaders out of Syria, and the bringing of A. Ocalan to Turkey through an international operation – all these events have inflamed discussions about the Kurdish question both in Turkey and in the international arena. Although it is not the first time it appeared on the agenda, the question which arises now is: ‘What will happen next?’ Besides their declarations about the ‘importance of co-operation against terrorism’, the leaders of the US, the EU countries, Russia, the Arab and Balkan states expressed their views that ‘Turkey should utilise this opportunity to recognise the cultural rights of the Kurds’. It was obvious that all were concerned about their own bourgeois imperialist interests and objectives, and that they were making plans as to how and to what extent they could benefit from this question.
The ruling classes of Turkey have chosen to use the ‘Apo operation’ (Apo is the nickname for Abdullah Ocalan) as an instrument to conceal the Kurdish question and the country’s social problems. The authorities, including the Military General Council, the President and government officials, claimed that there is no such thing as a Kurdish question, and intensified propaganda about the ‘elimination of terror’. Military and police attacks have been intensified and the state of emergency has been spread over the whole of Turkey.
Following Ocalan’s flight from Syria with the intervention of US imperialism and his arrival in Rome, the Turkish authorities sought to create a ‘national mobilisation’ with the propaganda that Italy and Germany as well as Syria and Greece ‘support separatist terrorism’. Chauvinist and reactionary propaganda was designed to promote reactionary prejudices amongst the most backward sections of the working people and to cover up the attacks and repression on the Kurds. The collaborator bourgeoisie and the top officials of the dictatorship too knew well that the ‘Apo operation’ would in no way keep the Kurdish question out of the agenda.
Nevertheless, this operation was a military and political success. Thus, it could be used as an efficient instrument of propaganda about the power and the greatness of the state both within the country and internationally. They tried to use this fully for their objectives such as the consolidation of the bourgeois influence and control over the masses, the postponing or denial of the demands of the working people through repressive means, and the implementation of economic policies in favour of international capital and the collaborating monopolist bourgeoisie. The collaborating ruling classes have mobilised all reactionary forces. They also mobilised every means with the aim of strengthening the policy of denial of the existence of the Kurdish nation and their rights under the new conditions and on the basis of their supposed success.
The Military General Council have bullied neighbouring countries; repeated once again the demagogy of a ‘single state, single nation, single language under a single flag’; and declared its determination ‘not to allow’ any development opposed to this. All the institutions of the system and its political and military forces have been brought to bear in this aggressive campaign.
One of the objectives of the collaborating reactionary forces has been the hindrance of the development of the Kurdish movement, which is one of the reasons of the economic and political dilemma and instability, into an advantage in favour of the reactionary forces. This was in line with the plans of US imperialism for the Middle East and the Caucasus and the role it has given to Turkey as its imperialist subcontractor. The line followed by the Kurdish bourgeois reformist movement and the line of struggle which considered the Kurdish popular masses as logistic support has led to a setback and tiredness in the Kurdish movement since 1992. This has facilitated the implementation of the policies of the ruling classes.
The PKK has deliberately identified itself with the Kurdish people and movement, and on behalf of them it called Western imperialist states to ‘intervene to solve the question’. While the propaganda about ‘Turkey’s gates could only be opened by Washington’ and the obligation of the intervention of ‘civilised Europe’ raised the Kurdish people’s expectations from the imperialists, it has orientated towards a line which is increasingly tied to policies of big Western states in the name of diplomacy.
Ocalan’s arrival at Rome and his application for political asylum was presented by the PKK and the Kurdish liberal reformist circles as the Kurds ‘entrance into the EU from Rome before Turkey’. Imperialist reactionary forces were esteemed as civilised democrats. With all this they revealed their trust in and expectations from the imperialists who are the most dangerous and the main enemy of the oppressed peoples. In this sense ‘diplomacy’ was everything now. The phrase ‘let’s become diplomats’ has been turned into a slogan by these circles. Ocalan was going to lead these diplomatic activities; relations with the US and the EU countries were going to be improved; Turkey was going to be forced through their influence; and a ‘political solution’ was going to be ensured. This is one of the most important tendencies in the Kurdish movement.
The Kurdish question was no longer ‘an internal question’ of Turkey. Although the collaborating bourgeoisie and state officials claimed ‘not to let anybody intervene in our internal affairs’, it was inevitable that slavery or struggle for liberation of a nation in a region where there is intense imperialist rivalry and in capitalist imperialist conditions was going to turn into an international question. The reasons for this is not only the fact that the conciliatory rulers of Turkey deny the existence of the Kurdish nation, their rights and the Kurdish question; and that the governments of the western imperialist countries’ recognition of the question and the possibility of its solution within the system. Also the existence of the Kurds in Iran, Iraq and Syria as well as Turkey is one of the objective factors for the expansion of this question to a regional and international dimension. Among other factors are the ‘migrant status’ of the Kurds in Europe; and the fact that the Kurdish question could have a role in the imperialist fight for hegemony over the Middle East, the Balkans and the Caucasus.
The question which direction will the development of the Kurdish movement take is directly linked with the Kurdish social reality. The level that capitalist development has reached in Turkey and Turkey-Kurdistan, and the synchronous development of capital accumulation and poverty in opposite directions make the struggle inevitable between the bourgeoisie and reactionary forces and the proletariat and the working people as opposite forces. Objective developments and the sharpening contradictions give rise to this struggle in the form of antagonistic contradictions between the two opposite classes. An opposition line to the reformist, conciliatory and collaborating line within the Kurdish movement is becoming more and more clear. Amongst the Kurdish working people, mainly the most advanced sections of the workers, the tendency to take up the question of national liberation together with political and economic demands, and to establish a firmer unity with the Turkish workers and working people against the attacks of capital.
This tendency has to be strengthened further for a democratic and popular solution of the Kurdish question. This is possible. The most advanced sections of Kurdish workers and working people have begun to organise in and around a revolutionary working class party. Tiredness, hopelessness and setbacks caused by a certain understanding of the struggle of the parties and organisations in the Kurdish movement, like the PKK and HADEP, which do not pay attention to the daily economic and political demands of the working masses and which do not bother to develop the mass movement, is being replaced by the tendency to struggle and the determination of advancing the movement of the Kurdish working people who understand through their political experience that the problem can be solved through unity of all working people from all nationalities of Turkey and on the basis of a struggle against the dictatorship and imperialism. It is possible that reformism and ‘terrorism’ whose aims and targets have become blurred and whose implementers do not count who they are serving with it could continue to co-exist by feeding each other. Nevertheless, what we are going through is a process where the differentiation of what is revolutionary from the conciliatory and reformist will accelerate.
The fact that the Kurdish bourgeois reformist and liberal circles opening the door to the imperialist bourgeoisie in the name of ‘diplomacy’, and that the imperialist states use this unsolved question as an instrument of pressure on their servants in the region poses a serious threat to the present and the future of the Kurdish movement.
Fortunately, Kurdish workers and working people have learnt much from the developments of the last 15-20 years and from the experiences of the struggle. Apart from the long past, they also take into account the experiences of Kurdish uprisings since the foundation of the Turkish Republic. They have seen in practice the inevitability of the peoples’ united struggle against the provocations, attacks and colonial oppression of the collaborating bourgeoisie and of the imperialists. The advanced sections of Kurdish working people have become mature enough to understand that national, political and economic rights can only be obtained through a line of struggle independent from the bourgeoisie and the reactionary forces.
This is the basis and the guarantee for the development of the movement in a revolutionary direction. The Kurdish question is not a new question; it has not come on to the international agenda for the first time; and it is not directly related to the PKK’s existence or non-existence. For almost a century the Kurdish people have been demanding their national rights through a struggle with ebbs and flows and interruptions. The fact that the Kurdish people is increasingly getting rid of being a divided and closed society strengthens the mass basis of their demand for national liberation and ensures the growth of the forces of the struggle. Also, the conditions have become ripe for the Kurdish working people to draw a thick demarcation line from the bourgeoisie and the reactionary forces. This is the main direction of the development. The Kurds can obtain their national liberation with the success of the struggle of the Kurdish workers and working people – hand in hand with the Turkish workers. This is the direction of the development in the movement of the Kurdish working people.
From: ‘The Voice of Revolution’, International Bulletin of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Turkey, TDKP.