In March 2016 (at an event celebrating Newroz), the Co-Chair of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey, Selahattin Demirtaş, called for peace and a return to negotiations between the ruling AKP and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). But the government apparently had no desire to stop its continuing war on freedom and peace.
Within this context, the PKK announced days later that it would finally respond fully to the Turkish State’s war on Kurdish communities. Since Ankara launched its assault on PKK positions in Iraq in July 2015, the PKK’s army – the Kurdistan People’s Defence Forces (HPG) – has focused primarily on self-defence. The main actors in resistance efforts in Turkey, meanwhile, have been the affiliated Civil Protection Units (YPS) and the PKK’s youth wing – the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H).
HPG Commander Murat Karayilan said:
Spring has come, the HPG should now intervene
He specified that:
this intervention should not be in the form of entering urban areas. It should be in the form of supporting the self-defence resistance of Kurdish youth under the umbrella of YPS
He also stressed that the decision to get involved in the State’s war had been made reluctantly, saying:
The HPG would not intervene if the army had not attacked urban areas, but we have to intervene since the Turkish army mobilised its forces against the Kurdish youth in cities… There was no need for such a war, and the issue of trenches would have been resolved if the state had responded to the issue differently
Erdoğan is the real separatist
In early March, TeleSur reported on the Turkish State’s carrot and stick approach in Kurdish communities, speaking about the regime’s ten-step plan for “repairing” these areas. The plan, it said, involved:
compensation payments, government consultations with village guards that function as pro-government Kurdish militia, as well as the construction of bulletproof security towers in urban districts.
In other words, the State sought:
[to] enforce economic dependency and to create obedient people crushed into submission.
Kurdish citizens had proven that they couldn’t be trusted with democracy (as they voted for the pro-unity HDP rather than the chauvinist AKP), and thus had to be brought to heel by force. In this sense, President Erdoğan was the one who was really separating the Turkish population, creating division between Turks and Kurds.
Cemil Bayik, who is Co-Chair of the Kurdistan Communities’ Union (KCK) – the umbrella organisation which includes the PKK and its allies, emphasised the divisive nature of the State’s anti-Kurdish war. He said:
Erdogan has called for national mobilisation against the Kurds, as if the PKK is trying to divide Turkey… The Kurds are not dividing anyone’s homeland; they want to live freely and democratically in their own homeland. The resistance to achieve self-governance is to make Turkey a joint-homeland… within a democratic nation… It is, for this reason, complete demagoguery when they say we are trying to divide the country… they want to enslave, eliminate and deny Kurds their rights… The real separatist in Turkey is Erdoğan; it is Erdoğan and the AKP government who are preventing unity between the Kurdish people and the peoples of Turkey.
The was not inevitable, but the PKK’s objectives are clear
In the wake of terrorist attacks in western Turkey in recent weeks, the KCK has made it very clear that its members are against the targeting of civilians. Its resistance is born purely from self-defence amid a full-blown State assault on Kurdish communities.
Murat Karayilan has insisted:
Our objective is clear: Freedom for our leader (Öcalan), Autonomous Kurdistan, Democratic Turkey… Now we have entered spring… The HPG must now intervene from the mountains and support the Kurdish youths who organised as the Civilian Defence Units (YPS) and mounted a legitimate, civilian self-defence resistance. Our people expect this from us.
He also makes it very clear that the escalation of the civil war was avoidable, saying:
We warned [the AKP regime] on 14 December 2015 when the army intervened against the urban resistance: we said, “don’t turn cities into areas of war, if the army intervenes so will the guerrilla (HPG) forces.” But they didn’t listen to us. They attacked youths carrying Kalashnikovs and shotguns with tanks.