The PKK on Erdoğan’s War

Part I

PKK Executive Council Member Murat Karayılan underlined that; “Qandil hears all the calls but a mutual attitude is needed for a ceasefire. Past practices proved us that one-sided ceasefires can accomplish no result.”


PKK Executive Council Member Murat Karayılan answered ANF’s questions regarding the recently enhanced war of Turkey against the Kurds in Northern Kurdistan. Karayılan underlined that Erdoğan started this war to be able to get 400 deputies in November 1 election.

The first part of the interview was translated into English below.

It is claimed that the state is now holding talks with Öcalan who is allegedly saying “They will not stop the conflict even if I tell them to do so. Therefore, it makes no sense to issue such a call. I cannot let the position of the Leadership to be questioned”. What sort of a path would PKK pursue if Öcalan called the Kurdish movement to end the clashes?

We have not received such information in this regard. This aggression and war did actually begin with the isolation imposed in İmralı. There currently exists an isolation and psychological warfare against Leader Apo [referring to Öcalan] at the moment. I cannot understand how the officials of this state can have the face to talk to a folk’s leader under isolation and ask him to make such a statement. If Erdoğan had any respect to the communities and groups different from himself, he wouldn’t subject Leader Apo to such an inhuman isolation. Yet, anything could be expected from these people who bear a mindset for sovereignty and exploitation.

If our Leader gave an answer as you mentioned, then he did the right thing because he doesn’t have the circumstances to say ‘end the resistance’ at the moment, and it is obvious that it would be compulsive if he did so.

Our Leader made great efforts for a democratic resolution of the Kurdish question since 1993, especially during the last two and a half years. Erdoğan, however, destroyed them all. He didn’t just overturn the table of talks, but also denied everything saying that there is no Kurdish question or an addressee. He thus left no grounds for further steps. Still, it is seen clearly that they are making an imposition on our Leader and he is resisting it.

One other thing is that Leader Apo can only issue a call in the event of an agreement on a project. The call he made in 2013 was also based on a recognition by state of the project he had presented, and an agreement by two sides. However, the state retracted and denied everything after a while. In this regard, the devastation caused by AKP is a great one. It ignored all the efforts made till that point for the sake of votes and its own ruling. It smashed and crushed such an issue of historic importance for Turkey’s society because of its view towards everything out of its own window. This is an irresponsible and self-interested attitude that cannot possibly pave the way for a solution.


Many valuable individuals and circles are now calling for a ceasefire, and most recently representatives of HDP have issued more striking calls. We value all these calls and support their essence. Yet, those making these calls should also see that the Turkish side is every day pledging to ‘keep the operations going until the last terrorist lays down arms’, which manifests a very harsh, warmongering attitude and an intention to continue with intense attack. We are using our right to retaliation against these attacks. This is a resistance of defense against violent attacks that aim an annihilation, and which inevitably faces defense-a must for existence and living. An opposite case would be a surrender which doesn’t comply with humanity and the cause of freedom at all. A ceasefire can only be realized by a view of this reality. Qandil hears all the calls but a mutual attitude is needed for a ceasefire. Past practices proved us that one-sided ceasefires can accomplish no result.

Those wanting to stop the war need to see this truth; this war was started by Erdoğan. Some circles for denial and annihilation did also get involved in this process in an alliance but this war is basically waged by Erdoğan for 400 deputies. He wants to win the November 1 election by running all balances upside down through war after he faced the truth that he will not be able to succeed this under normal circumstances.

Therefore, one side of the war wants to keep it going. This side, which is the government, needs to be forced to change its attitude in this regard. In other words, they might give up this in the event of facing the truth that they cannot accomplish the result they desire by waging this war. Turkey’s society and the circles siding with peace and democracy should therefore raise a stronger voice and manifest a stronger reaction to make Erdoğan stop this. This is also because of the fact that we might suffer heavy blows in the event of weakening out defense position one-sidedly, and this situation might lead up to intolerable consequences for both us and all democracy forces.


At the moment, AKP wants to rule a concept that targets all the Kurdish people and intends to cow them into submission. Long before that, it started this process with the isolation of the Kurdish leader that has no legal ground, is based on a law of war, and violates the state’s own laws. A fresh basis for a ceasefire can be provided by firstly starting a struggle against this policy of the AKP, and criticism of its warmongering attitude. And, this can only be ensured by the initiation of a new process for mutual consolidated ceasefire which should also involve monitoring mediators.

On the other hand, the Kurdish movement is not alone now. In the past, we were able make a call and give an instruction to ‘stop the actions’, and guerrillas would indeed do so, but the situation is different today as it is not only the guerrillas that is a part of this war. There is a reality of YDG-H and the society. When we are to take a step today, we cannot do it unbeknownst to the people of Cizre, Gever and Amed. The people resisting there lay down their lives while resisting the attacks. In this sense, circumstances have been exceeded for a one-sided step from us unless there exists an assurance that there will be no attack from the other side, i.e. a project of reconciliation. Some say ‘PKK could now declare a one-sided ceasefire as it did in the past’. Right, we could do this one-sidedly in the past because it was only the HPG and the Turkish army that confronted each other in the war during that times. This is not the case at the moment because resistance has become socialized now.

The complexity of the matter is obviously evident. Yet, an agreed solution can be accomplished, as stated above, if an approach paying regard to the criticalness of the matter is developed.

Part II

PKK Executive Council Member Murat Karayılan stated that the calls for a return to the table of talks were valuable and esteemed, however, cannot possibly be made real unless the AKP’s blatant attacks on our leader, people and forces stop.

PKK Executive Council Member Murat Karayılan answered ANF’s questions regarding the recently enhanced war of Turkey against the Kurds in Northern Kurdistan. Karayılan underlined that the process of resolution was ended and the ongoing war was started by the AKP and Erdoğan as a part of their electoral strategy.

The second part of the interview was translated into English below.


If this war continues like this, there can be no election. Both we and the AKP know this. AKP is continuously conducting polls. If it notices a future failure, it might use this ongoing conflict as a reason for a postponement of the election. This is why it will want to keep the war going. In the same way, it might again want to continue the war in the event of seeing an accomplishment of the current warfare circumstances. In other words, AKP intends to keep this war going till November 1 and will not stop it, even if we do so. It might abandon this idea if both national and international circles and civil society organizations adopt a stance against the mindset of receiving votes through this war. It does otherwise not seem much likely that AKP will stop this war before the election. This war is actually pursued on this very basis. The other issues are just a means to cover this truth up. This is the reason why the mainstream, i.e. pro-AKP media publishes exaggerated reports every day and gives headlines that target and provoke the people, and are entirely based on lies. To give an example, they wrote that 280 guerrillas went to Cizre from the mountain. 21 civilians fell a martyr there. Which of them was a guerrilla? None. In addition, the Interior Minister of AKP said “we killed 32 terrorists during the course of the curfew in the town. If so, where are the bodies of these 32 people? These are all lies. There are no guerrillas in Cizre. There are just youths and people there.


In Silopi, Turkish forces surrounded a house and opened fire on it from evening till the morning, they brought the house down in ruins, and eventually said “we killed 3 PKK members”. It later turned out that two of them were local youths and ordinary citizens that people came across on the street every day. Another similar case occurred in Gaziantep where a university student from Eruh was killed. They shot those youths dead and later called them “PKK members”. They kill everyone, women and children, and later call them “PKK members”, including a 75-year-old elderly and a 35-day-old baby.

The basis for this situation is mainly formed by the mainstream media. The attacks conducted by organized groups against HDP and Kurds in various parts of Turkey today are developed and take basis from the psychological warfare created by the mainstream media. In short, they want to win votes by fabricated news pointing Kurds as a target and reflecting the realization of an intense war.


Erdoğan tells on a TV show that “we killed two thousand”, which is totally a lie. Neither the attacks from the air nor those from the ground has inflicted heavy losses on us. It is true that we suffered casualties as very valuable comrades of ours fell a martyr, but this number would be like a drop in the ocean when considering the dimension of the assaults. A Turkish paper says “Two third of the PKK has been destroyed”. These headlines constitute an example of the great disrespect to the society. It wouldn’t be so nice to say this, but they fool the people. To this extend do they produce lies and develop disinformation, which all are efforts for providing the basis to keep the war going till November 1.

The calls for a return to the table of talks are valuable and esteemed, however, cannot possibly be made real unless the AKP’s blatant attacks on our leader, people and forces stop. A result might be achieved if efforts are made in consideration of this truth.

Following 2013’s Newroz, some leading actors of the Kurdish political movement said “we want to be recovered from this terrorist label. If you are still of the same opinion, why are you continuing this conflict then?

Our struggle is a fair and legitimate one. We were forced to start an armed fight because of the total elimination of an environment eligible for struggle through political-democratic methods. We never demanded to “be recovered from the terrorist label” in this fair and legitimate struggle of ours. There could be a misunderstanding on this point, and no Kurdish politician should say such a thing. The fight of the Kurdish people is a struggle of self-defense against the state terror and it had to be initiated in the face of tendencies of annihilation. Self-defense is also recognized as a right to life by international laws. The right to life is, on the other hand, sacred. We are also of the same opinion. We have the right to defend ourselves, our people have the right to defend the self-rule they have declared, and our forces have the right to retaliation to the attacks of sovereign-exploitative states. This is the attitude we bear in this regard but we believe this problem should be solved through not a mutual annihilation and use of arms but dialogue at table, and we attach priority to this perspective. Everyone has a different description of terror. If it is violence meant with terror, there exists primarily a violence by the state in Kurdistan, which is perpetrated in the manner of state terror. With which violence were those 21 people killed in Cizre? There exists an explicit state terror in question here. And, it is obvious that such one-sided practices targeting the Kurdish people under the name of terror do and will serve not a solution but a deadlock.

You say that it is the AKP and Erdoğan that ended the process of resolution, and that there is an electoral strategy behind this. If you think so, don’t you end up providing the greatest support to this strategy by escalating violence?

As we have stated before, the process was ended and this war was started by the AKP and Erdoğan as a part of their electoral strategy. It is vital for us to respond to the attacks of AKP. In other words, we have to retaliate the attacks to avoid suffering a blow. In response to every airstrike on our areas and every massacre of civilians in cities, we have to carry out retaliatory actions. If we don’t do so, attacks would be enhanced and brought to the point of compelling us. While doing this, we also state that we will not target the military and other forces that do not take an active part in the process and attacks.

In brief, we are waging a struggle of self-defense. It is not us but the AKP that escalates violence. I do not agree that the response we give on the basis of self-defense provides the greatest contribution to AKP’s strategy. This is a controversial situation. For example, they want to develop a controlled war and conclude their strategy through an annihilation of the PKK, as is also stated by Erdoğan himself. If we protect ourselves, eliminate the attacks without suffering losses, and advance our own democratic system, this could completely defeat their plan. For this reason, the fastening that ‘the current process serves AKP’s strategy’ is a controversial one. They want to win votes by killing us but our defense and growth will entirely eliminate the plans of the Palace. If this succeeds, they will lose, while Kurdistan Freedom Struggle and Turkey’s democracy forces will triumph.


I would consequently like to state that we value the efforts and thoughts of many peaceful and democratic circles and consider such quests and criticism as necessary. In conclusion, we are insistent on a solution as a preference of together-living with the people of Turkey, which can only be achieved by ensuring democratization in Turkey and improvement of Democratic Autonomy in Kurdistan and Turkey. This preference of ours is a significant one that should have actually been esteemed by Turkey officials because of the fact that we have other choices also, none of them we, however, bring up for discussion now. Still, if they tell us to ‘either become slaves and surrender, or we kill you’ despite all our approaches for peace and solution, we would have to seek our own way. From this point of view, the current process of war and treatment towards it is very important to us. In this regard, I state once again that we respect and value every effort for solution.