“This is not just a Kurdish problem. This is a problem artificially created by the imperialist European states, mainly Britain and France, after the collapse of the Ottoman empire. This means that the solidarity with the Kurdish people’s struggle is not just a solidarity for their right to self-determination. The vital part of the Kurdish struggle is the democratization of the region.”
For the people of Kurdistan, the 1st of November is marked by the horrors of massive destruction and siege in the city of Kobane in Northern Syria/Western Kurdistan. In autumn of November 1, 2014, the Islamic State (IS), heavily supported by the Turkish state forces and mercenary groups attacked Kobane and committed grave crimes against its people. The rape, femicide, senseless arrests, kidnapping, plunder of lands and resources, were all part of a hegemony that has attacked and threatened the people of various Turkish states.
Those dark times have drawn worldwide attention to the Rojava Revolution, the heroic people’s resistance that has turned the tide against the IS occupation and fought for national liberation for the people of Kurdistan. Six years since, the brave freedom fighters of Rojava have shown that the issue of Kobane is of high international importance. The quest for their genuine democracy and just peace is a quest that the whole world should fight for.
This is why the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), a global network that seeks to coordinate anti-imperialist and democratic movements all around the world, has dedicated November as the Month of Global Solidarity for Kurdistan. The month-long solidarity campaign commenced with a webinar launching yesterday, November 1, as the people of Kurdistan commemorates the sixth anniversary of the historical World Kobane Day.
Geopolitics of isolation and occupation
The Turkish state has played a very crucial role in the long-time crisis in Kurdistan brought by the Syrian conflict. Its political, economic, cultural, and military intervention has aggravated the illegal occupation, emergence of civilian settlements and refugee camps in the region.
“The 1st of November is reminding us that we paid a high price for our demands for freedom, justice, and democracy; and still, we are continuing the struggle. It’s not just an issue of a small terrorist group, but it’s about IS being an instrument that became very vital to the hegemonic powers that divided the whole Middle East. Our struggle is now against a new imperialist strategy that still targets the Middle East mainly because of its rich natural resources, and because it is the center of civilization”, Nilüfer Koç, spokesperson of the International Commission of the Kurdistan National Congress – KNK dsaid.
According to Nilüfer, Kurdistan has a central position in the Middle East region. After it was divided in the Middle East between Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, these four states became global players in the time of the first world war. The Kurdish card then became a bargaining instrument until the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was founded in 1978 by the Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan.
“The division of Kurdistan in between four states was a clear imperialist strategy. They turned the people into a problem by policy of annihilation and denial. This means that almost 45 million people are not recognized in any of the constitutions of the states. All these four states became hostile to the Kurds, and the Kurds never gave up in fighting for their freedom”, Nilüfer added.
“This is not just a Kurdish problem. This is a problem artificially created by the imperialist European states, mainly Britain and France, after the collapse of the Ottoman empire. This means that the solidarity with the Kurdish people’s struggle is not just a solidarity for their right to self-determination. The vital part of the Kurdish struggle is the democratization of the region,” Nilüfer said.
Erdogan’s fascism and expansionist rule
From over a decade of being a critical member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Turkey’s military now ranks the largest after the U.S. This fundamental shift to an aggressive military policy, according to the Kurdish freedom fighters, is mainly engineered by current Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“Turkey as an important NATO country has continued to receive arms from the US and EU, listed the PKK as a terrorist organization, blocked political solutions, restricted fundamental freedoms and perpetrated massive human rights violations,” Ludo de Brabander, Belgian peace activist and spokesperson of Vrede vzw said.
Brabander pointed out that the beginning of the Erdogan era looked promising with the political, economic, and judicial reforms, but soon, he turned the page towards authoritarianism. After three rounds of negotiations in 2008 and 2015, he finally aborted the political solution to the Kurdish problem.
“The pressure arising from Erdogan’s foreign adventures is straining the country’s budget. A lot of that spending is going to Turkey’s defense industry to make the country independent of arms imports. His repressive policies and cronyism have sparked brain drain, and he has resorted to an aggressive foreign policy changing diplomacy for an adventurist military policy. As a result, his popularity in Turkey is going down. It looks like Erdogan’s Turkey is on an imperialist overstretch,” Brabander added.
Political prisoners as part of the Kurdistan crisis
Former political prisoner and current HDP (Peoples Democratic Party) representative Faik Yagizay said that the Erdogan regime’s main tool against the people of Kurdistan is its military.
“On one hand, it is true that Erdogan is being used by big powers; but on the other hand, he has an agenda to follow his national aspirations in the region. He sees himself as that of the Ottoman empire. Now, he is attacking our party, putting our friends in prison. More than 5,000 HDP members are in prison because Erdogan could not silence us and politically defeat us,” Faik said.
Faik also stressed that the situation of political prisoner and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) founder Abdullah Öcalan is important to the struggle of Kurdistan people. PKK has been recognized by Turkey, US and the EU as a terrorist organization.
“The situation of Abdullah Öcalan gave the Turkish government the opportunity to use it against everybody in opposition. The imprisonment of Öcalan is the main problem before the solution to the Kurdish question. We should struggle for his freedom. If he becomes free then it is impossible for the current Turkish regime to stay this way,” Faik said.
Reliving the Kobane fervor
The concrete conditions that led to the heroic uprising of the people of Kobane against ISIS still exist in new forms today. Turkish troops and terrorist gangs have continued to work hand-in-hand in occupying various parts of Kurdistan. On top of this, imperialist powers like the US and Russia have continued to enable the long-time atrocities against the Kurdish people.
“They failed during the Kobane resistance because the people of Kobane were organized. Let this be a lesson to the Kurdish people and to the world that we should be organized to fight for our freedom, justice and democracy. We have to intensify our struggle and resistance, because there is no other way,” Saleh Moslem, one of the founders of PYD- Partiya Yekitiya Demokratik or Democratic Union Party ended