According to the Iranian Kurdistan Human Rights Watch (IKHRW), this year marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of the PKK militant group. As an armed group with Marxist-Leninist ideology and special teachings such as the prohibition of marriage, the PKK was initially formed with the aim of declaring the independence of Kurdistan and the disintegration of Turkey, but gradually distanced itself from its stated goals and eventually reached a vague slogan of democratic confederalism. The group’s leader, Abdullah Ocalan, has been imprisoned by the Turkish government since 1999. The PKK pursued what it called the realization of Kurdish rights with a violent and armed approach, inspired by the teachings of the Soviets. The armed group announced its ultimate goal of establishing a communist and left-wing government inspired by the Soviet model.
But naturally, due to its activities in the Kurdish areas and the backwardness and lack of development of those areas, it used Kurdish forces. Therefore, in order to cover and legitimize the ultimate goal of the Kurdish people, one of the things that the PKK emphasized was the Kurdish language and culture of this people. The group believed that the Turkish Kurds had been ignored and their culture and language despised because of the extremist and violent approaches of Atatürk and the Kemalists. Of course, all of these claims were completely at odds with the PKK’s beliefs, approaches, and ultimate goal. The PKK did not want a Kurdish government at all, but wanted a government like the Soviet one; and this through Kurdistan and the Kurds. The group is also not true to its slogan of respect for the Kurdish language and culture. The official newspaper and the dominant language in the group is also Turkish, and many PKK leaders are not Kurdish at all and do not know Kurdish.
As mentioned, Abdullah Ocalan was arrested in Kenya in 1999 by the Turkish intelligence service and transferred to Turkey. Ocalan, who once called for war with Turkey, the disintegration of Iran, Syria and Iraq, and the formation of a Kurdish state as his ultimate demands, and considered any compromise with the Turkish government and the Kemalists and Pan-Turks as an unforgivable mistake, took new contradictory positions after his arrest. This change of position led many Kurds and even PKK members to conclude that Ocalan had surrendered and traded with the Turkish government to save his life and interests. Scholars of Kurdish question have even hypothesized that the PKK and Ocalan himself were the Turkish government’s project to divert and discredit the Kurds and their demands in order to secure the issue and deal with the hardships and the military. Ibrahim Guchlu is one the experts who believes in this hypothesis. This Turkish Kurdish expert, who has spoken about this issue many times in the Turkish media, mentioned a lot of evidence for his hypothesis in an interview with the IKHRW. Mr. Guchlu believes that “the PKK was established in Turkey under unusual circumstances with the aim of destroying the genuine Kurdish movements. That is why the active Kurds who have been active for years were not placed in the joint project of the government and the PKK. Most of the founders of the PKK are not Kurds. For this reason, with the exception of Ocalan and a few of his associates, and, of course, like himself, unpopular social figures in Kurdish movements, Kurdish-speaking individuals are among the founders of the PKK. It is not seen, but there are many gaps between them. The detailed interview of the IKHRW with this Turkish expert is as follows:
Mr. Guchlu, first of all, to acquaint the readers of this interview with the PKK group, please tell us how this group was established. Why was the PKK established in Turkey and in what geographical, intellectual and ideological atmosphere? Why did some Kurds in Turkey join this group?
Following the military coup of March 12, 1971, a general amnesty was granted to Kurdish activists in Turkey in 1974. I was one of them who was sentenced to a heavy prison after the trial. The Kemalist government of Turkey believed that a military coup would destroy the Kurdish movements in Turkey. But after 1974, it became clear that the government was wrong. The Kurdish movement in Turkey became stronger. Previously, there was only the Democratic Party of Kurdistan of Turkey (KDP), but after 1974, a large number of Kurdish parties and organizations were established in Turkish politics. The KDP was very weak in the coup and reorganized itself after many years. New organizations were established by politicians and cadres active in the Kurdish regions of Turkey. Those who were active in establishing the Kurdish movement in Turkey after 1959. People trusted those organizations very much. Those parties (Rizgari-Ala Rizgari movement, Turkish Kurdistan Socialist Party, DDK, Kawa, Tekoshin) had attracted many supporters among the Kurdish people and regions.
Nationalist ideas of the left and right were strengthened in the Kurdish regions of Turkey. The Kemalist government of Turkey realized that arrests, trials, imprisonment, torture, murder, and punishment could not prevent popular protests in these areas. As a result, a “new spring” had begun in those areas. The government at that time pursued a very dangerous strategy and in the name of the Kurds, the PKK group was established. The government’s goal was to get itself out of the way and through the PKK from within, to annihilate and destroy the Kurdish movements in Turkey.
The fact is, in a process, especially after the military’s success in the coup of September 12, 1980, through the PKK, first, they stunned the Kurdish movements in Turkey, then defeated them, and finally destroyed them.
Were the original founders of the group Kurdish? What ideological beliefs did these members have?
As I said, the PKK was established in Turkey under unusual circumstances with the aim of destroying the genuine Kurdish movements. That is why the active Kurds who have been active for years were not placed in the joint project of the government and the PKK. The answer to this question is very clear. That is, we know that most of the founders of the PKK are not Kurds. For this reason, with the exception of Ocalan and a few of his associates, and, of course, like himself, unpopular social figures in Kurdish movements, Kurdish-speaking individuals are among the founders of the PKK.
They do not believe in the rights of the Kurds. They follow the ideology of the Stalinist left and Turkish Kemalism. For this reason, he declared all Kurds and Kurdish organizations and parties (Mir, Agha, Sheikh, tribal leader, mullah, conservative nationalist intellectual) as enemies. To eliminate them, they started a heavy and armed war with the support of the Turkish government.
The PKK’s view on the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan runs counter to the group’s slogans for Kurdish unity. What is the reason for this contradiction?
In the first stage, with the aim of uniting the Kurds around him, Ocalan proposed the independence of Kurdistan and the unification of Kurdistan. After the Kurds gathered around the PKK, and thousands of Kurds were killed, Ocalan killed his friends and Kurdish activists and then renounced independence. Abdullah Ocalan said publicly in court that if it were not for the PKK, the Kurdish nationalists Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani, with the support of the United States and the European Union, would establish the independent Kurdish state as the second Israel. He even added that for Kurdistan, federalism or autonomy and any official status is not necessary and the situation of the Kurds should not be changed. Enemy of the the independence of Kurdistan or other changes for the Kurds of Turkey or Iraq, the PKK is a government project. It turns out that the PKK is an operational organization, anti-Kurdish and genuine Kurdish movements – mainly in Turkey.
There have always been suspicions about the PKK and its connection to the MIT. Some believe that the PKK was founded by MIT from the beginning; others believe that MIT was later able to infiltrate the PKK. What is your opinion?
In response to the first question, I specified that how the PKK was founded by the Kemalist colonial government of Turkey. I also specified the purpose of this project. On the other hand, Abdullah Ocalan personally says that the people who were with me were MIT agents (Turkish intelligence). He himself makes it clear and mentions it in his writings and in court, he also stated that MIT helped him. “I deceived the MIT,” he said before his arrest. “We acted according to MIT’s prior notice,” he said after his arrest. “MIT helped us.”
More importantly, he also said at the time of the trial, “I have served the Turkish government more than any other individual or government agency.” If I and the PKK were not, the Kurdish nationalists would form an independent Kurdistan with the support of the European Union and the United States.” “Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, with the help of the United States, want to establish a second Israel in the Middle East,” Ocalan said. I and the PKK prevented this. Because an independent Kurdistan in the Middle East, like Israel, will be a dangerous state for you. If an independent government is established in northern Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran will also disintegrate. That means a united and great Kurdistan will be established.”
When Ocalan was arrested in Kenya, he was brought to Turkey, where he immediately said, “My uncle is a Turk. I will serve my government. “That’s why the government should give me a chance.” Indeed, Ocalan served the government from the beginning. He also served the government after his imprisonment. But he was hostile to the Kurds, the Kurdish leaders, the Kurdish parties and organizations, and the Kurdish region. He brought friendship and cooperation to the Turkish government. “The Kurds do not have the right to an independent state,” Ocalan said very clearly. “Even federalism and autonomy are not the right of the Kurds.” This enmity with the Kurds is strange.
When Ocalan was brought to Turkey from Kenya, he was not tortured at all. He said everything at his will. The information we have shows that Ocalan said a lot during his interrogations. How the PKK was founded, by and with whose program and…
I have said on various Turkish television programs that “the government should publish new material and Ocalan’s views during the interrogations to the public.” This request was not seen in the interests of the Turkish government. If Ocalan’s remarks are published, it will be a vulgar disaster for the Turkish government. A very small part of the confession was made public, and in the same part, Ocalan said what he had done against the Kurdish movement in Turkey, and spoke very clearly about his role in it. It is another service to the government.
What benefit do Turkey and the MIT have from the PKK and its leadership and establishment? What good did this group do Turkey and the Pan-Turks?
The Turkish government and the intelligence apparatus, in order to prevent the Kurdish movement in the Kurdish regions of Turkey, and to destroy the Kurdish parties and organizations, or to distance them from the independence movement, to deepen the differences in the Kurdish national movement established the PKK. For this reason, the PKK first targeted Kurdish parties and organizations with a dirty war. It also fought against Kurdish tribes. He waged these wars with the support of government-backed tribes. He killed thousands of civilians and community leaders, tribal leaders, religious clerics, and Kurdish aghas and rulers. After the Kurdish regions of Turkey, the PKK also carried out this dirty mission against the Kurds in other Kurdish areas. It continued by killing thousands of Kurds, 3,500 Peshmerga in Iraqi Kurdistan alone. Is n’t this a greater service to the Turkish government?
Mr. Guchlu! We are now witnessing the occupation of the Kurdish areas of Syria by Turkey. On the other hand, we know that the negotiations between the Syrian Kurds have not reached the desired result. Apart from the interests of the United States, Turkey and the Syrian government, why are the Syrian Kurdish talks not coming to an end? Apparently, in this situation, they must unite to fight against the Turkish occupation.
The PKK was established as a project of the Kemalist government. That is why it carried out this dirty and sick mission in all four Kurdish sections. In Syria, too, the PKK and its affiliated groups are ruining the game to prevent unity. The PKK paved the way for Turkey to attack the Kurdish areas of Syria.
In 2011, when civilian protests began in Deraa near the Jordanian border, Kurdish organizations supported it civilly and democratically. As we know, in Deraa, the initial demand of the people was democratic and economic. They had no political demands. But later they made political demands. At that time, the Kurdish forces in the Kurdish regions of Syria also supported the civil and democratic demands. The Kurds never thought of taking up arms and fighting. The PKK/PYD supported the ruling regime in Syria. It stated that we do not want the Ba’athist regime to fall. The Kurds later defended the idea of federalism. The PKK strongly opposed these demands. At this stage, the Syrian government armed the PKK / PYD and ceded Kurdish areas to them. At this stage, we are witnessing the dictatorship of the PKK and its Syrian branch. The Syrian government’s goal was to focus on other areas and threaten Turkey.
During this time, the PKK always took numerous actions against Kurdish parties and organizations. It arrested, imprisoned and tortured politicians and officials of Kurdish organizations and ordinary people. The PKK has never been allied with the Kurds. It is now fighting on behalf of the United States and the Coalition. The United States and France want the unification of the Syrian Kurds but the PKK rejects. Because it does not defend the interests of the Kurdish people.
We know that you have been investigating the PKK’s extrajudicial executions for four years, as well as the assassinations attempted by this group. What results have you achieved? How many prominent PKK members have been removed because of their rivalry with Ocalan and other group leaders?
It has been 45 years now that the PKK kills the Kurds in all Kurdish areas. PKK: 1- Killed active Kurds, leaders and cadres of Kurdish parties and organizations, 2- Civilians, nomads, social officials such as tribal leaders, rulers, aghas, sheikhs, villagers, students, mullahs, villagers 3. Assassinated dissidents and critics within the organization.
According to my research, except for three or four people who were the founders of the PKK, who are famous (who are formal, in fact the real founders are Ocalan and no more than 2-3 people), all have been killed by the PKK or escaped. “We killed 17,000 people inside our organization,” Ocalan said in a Turkish court. “Maybe even more than that,” he said.
On the anniversary of the assassination of Sakine Cansiz (one of the PKK leaders), you believed that her assassination was the PKK’s organizational elimination. What is your documentation? Why don’t you accuse Turkey?
When we know the reason for Sakine Cansiz’s murder, then it becomes clear who killed her and her friends. As we know, Sakine Cansiz and her friends were killed during the peace process. She was opposed to the peace process. Apo (Ocalan) wanted the PKK to be disarmed; but Qandil and the deep state in the government did not want this. This peace process needed to be disrupted. Sakine and her friends were killed. For this reason, the killer was identified; the same agent is a MIT and a member of the PKK.
What is the current situation of the Kurds in Turkey and how do you assess the future?
The situation of the Kurds in Turkey is bad. How the situation will be in the future is also a detailed and very important issue. It needs as much analysis as a book. Prior to the coup of September 12, 1980, Kurdish movements existed in the Kurdish regions of Turkey and were strong in every way. There were different parties and organizations. It was a sociological and social movement and was associated with all sections of society. There was also stability in the struggle. People and members of parties and organizations trusted their leaders. Kurdish movements and organizations intervened in the events in a timely manner and wanted to live according to new standards. The leaders and members were dedicated people. Members and officials of parties and organizations hoped for the development of Kurdish areas. I must say with regret that the situation was destroyed by the government and the PKK. Government established the PKK to facilitate the destruction. Through the PKK attacked Kurdish movements, parties and organizations, but it provided the ground for the activities of radical organizations of the left and right. After the coup, the destruction of Kurdish organizations and parties really began. As a result, Kurdish movements in the Kurdish regions and all its organizations were destroyed. They lost contact with the people. In the 1990s, the Kurds again tried to establish their own movement. This time through legal associations and parties; it was at this time that the HEP Party was founded. But unfortunately, through the government program, the Kemalist people in the government also brought this party under the control of the PKK. Then, the PKK monopoly on parties came again.
It started to eliminate all independent Kurds and, of course, the opposition. The government also offered these parties to the PKK. They won the votes of the Kurds under different names. But these parties never represented the demands of the Kurds, but opposed any positive action for the Kurds in Turkey. The PKK still plays a dirty role. Unfortunately, there is still no social movement in the Kurdish regions of Turkey.