Note: The declaration by the KCK, the umbrella organisation of the Kurdish Movement, was made on Saturday 20 August, before the attack on a Kurdish wedding in Gaziantep, which killed 51 people and injured more than 150 and has been attributed to the Islamic State (IS).
Due to the importance of the declaration in regards to the Kurdish question, we are publishing it in-depth below.
The Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council Co-Presidency has released a statement regarding the stage the Kurdish question has reached, attacks on the Kurdish Movement (KM), calls for a return to negotiations (between the KM and Turkish state) and the steps needed to be taken for a resolution in the future.
The KCK stressed that the Kurdish movement felt the need to re-express its approach amidst demands and calls made by certain government, international institutions, organisations in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), democracy forces and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey for a return to negotiations for the resolution of the Kurdish question. The KCK emphasised that it is the Turkish state that must take a step for the resolution of the issue.
The KCK listed the following urgent steps for a resolution:
"As the Kurdish Freedom Movement, we are ready to fulfill our responsibilities in every regard if the AKP government shows the necessary will to resolve the Kurdish question and assures the peoples of Turkey that it will take a step for this; a parliamentary delegation involving the HDP has talks with our leader Abdullah Öcalan and decides to start negotiations very soon and opportunities are created for our leader to meet with all political parties inside and outside parliament- including his own organisation- communities that have proposals for democratisation and the resolution of problems -mainly Alevis- non-governmental organisations and intellectuals."
Remarking that the failure of the 15 July coup attempt was a great chance for Turkey, the KCK said the AKP government had taken advantage of this failure and mobilised a counter-coup.
AKP responsible for Turkey coup attempt
The KCK also said that the AKP government had imposed an aggravated isolation on Öcalan since 5 April 2015 and had rejected the Dolmabahçe Agreement made on 28 February 2015 between the KM and Turkish state. The KCK added that the Turkish government "began implementing its war policy and mobilised the 'coup mechanism' to suppress the Kurdish question after the results of 5 June 2015 general election, which left the AKP without a majority.
"Our leader Öcalan launched a non-conflict process in late 2012 and declared a manifesto for Turkey's democratisation in the Newroz of 2013. With a three-phased plan, he projected Turkey's democratisation, declared his intention to withdraw (PKK) guerrilla forces outside Turkey's borders, and had soldiers, policemen and a district governor released by the PKK. By having our movement take these steps, our leader tried to encourage the Turkish state take steps for democratisation. However, the AKP government abstained from taking steps for the resolution of the Kurdish question, and sustained the ceasefire only to continue its own ruling."
'Collapse Plan' put into action
"Sustaining the ceasefire despite all the negative approaches of the state, our movement gave the AKP government an opportunity to take steps for resolution of the Kurdish question and democratisation. In every meeting with the state and HDP delegation, leader Öcalan warned the parties of a 'parallel state within state' and emphasised that these structures with outer connections did not want the resolution of the Kurdish question. He warned repeatedly that the deadlock in the resolution of the Kurdish question had created a coup mechanism, and that this mechanism would go into action unless a step was taken for a resolution.
However, Erdoğan and his close circle did not take our leader's efforts and the non-conflict environment he had enabled seriously, nor did they take a step to strengthen these efforts.
As a result, the AKP government in the person of Erdoğan, brought into effect the 'coup mechanism' by taking a decision for war during the National Security Council (MGK) meeting on 30 October 2014. The 'Collapse Plan,' taken to crush the Kurdish Freedom Movement, was decided on in this meeting following the 6-8 October demonstrations, which helped prevent Kobanê from falling."
The National Security Council gave army initiative to crush Kurdish Movement
The KCK emphasised that the Turkish army had been handed the initiative to crush the Kurdish struggle during the above mentioned National Security Council meeting and that this had activated the 'coup mechanism' and strengthened the faction within the army, who attempted the coup on 15 July 2016.
Recalling the then Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's remarks "I ordered the army and police to be prepared in 2014", the KCK said this was a clear confession of the AKP government's role in forming the foundations that activated the 'coup mechanism.'
Isolation of Öcalan
The KCK's declaration listed the major developments that led the way to the activation of the 'coup mechanism' as the rejection of the Dolmabahçe Agreement, imposition of an aggravated isolation on Öcalan since 5 April, rejection of the 7 June election results and the initiation of "an all-out war" on 24 July 2015.
"It is understood now that the support external powers gave to the AKP's war policy after the 7 June election is related with the activation of this 'coup mechanism'. This is the reason why external powers turned a blind eye to the AKP government's burning down of Kurdish cities and the massacre of hundreds of civilians. The plan was that the 'coup mechanism' would get results sooner in an environment of conflict where the AKP and PKK had both been weakened."
15 July coup attempt began in December 2015
The KCK remarked that the 15 July coup attempt had begun on 14 December 2015 when the AKP government gave the go-ahead for the Turkish military, tanks, artillery and heavy weapons to enter Kurdish cities and to "crush the Kurdish people who had declared self-rule."
"Erdoğan and Ahmet Davutoğlu's remarks 'Our brave army has defeated the terrorists,' [regarding Sur, Cizre and Nusaybin] meant that the 'coup mechanism' had been activated and decided to seize state power. Their claim by the some in the army was, 'We are the ones fighting the PKK, we are shouldering this heavy burden, and therefore we are the ones that need to rule and determine politics'. The tanks, artillery, helicopters and jets that had been striking Kurdistan's mountains every day, this time set their sights on Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir. The failed coup attempt emerged as a consequence of the policies that produced no answers to the Kurdish question and deepened the deadlock. The AKP government claims this coup was staged by [Fethullah] Gülenist circles. The truth however is that AKP members played an active part in the coup, both ideologically and politically."
The KCK said that it had always been Kurds and democratic circles in Turkey who had stood against coups, "as witnessed during the 1980 military coup and the dirty war launched by the military in the 90's against Kurds." The KCK added that it was these two parties -Kurds and democratic circles- that suffered most in coups.
Noting that the failure of the 15 July coup attempt was a great chance for the peoples of Turkey, the KCK said the AKP government had not made use of the chance for the resolution of the Kurdish question and democratisation, through which the coup mechanism could have been eliminated.
KCK changed its mind
The KCK's statement remarked that the Kurdish Movement had considered making a new assessment of the situation after the 15 July coup attempt, but decided not to do so due to the AKP government's negative approach. The KCK said it had agreed that the AKP needed to take a step to promote democracy, the resolution of the Kurdish question and show a true anti-coup stance, but that this hadn't been the case post-coup.
Instead the state had continued its chauvinist discourse, declared a state of emergency, announced the suspension of talks with Imralı and displayed an unfavorable approach towards the HDP with Erdoğan instrumentalising everything to consolidate his hold on power the KCK said.
Answer to groups calling for negotiations
"But recently calls and statements by certain states, international institutions working on peaceful solutions to conflicts, friendly organisations in Southern Kurdistan (KRG), power groups in Turkey, the HDP and democratic forces about our approach have created the need to declare our stance to the public once more.
Our leader Öcalan and our Movement have, since 20 March 1993, made great efforts for a democratic political solution to the Kurdish issue, and have declared more than ten ceasefires to this end. Moreover, the movement showed the will to move its armed forces outside Turkey's borders (2013) and almost 40% of guerilla forces were withdrawn with many more mobilised to do the same. But because the state and AKP did not take the necessary steps to end the denial of the Kurds and extended their genocidal policies, the situation that has created today's intense conflict has come to the fore."
AKP utilised ceasefires
The KCK also stated that recent clashes had become more violent than previous ones because the AKP government had utilised the ceasefires for their own ends.
"Erdoğan and the AKP government have utilised all the ceasefires we have declared to strengthen their hold on power. They have created false hope for a resolution to maintain power. Erdoğan approached the Kurdish question, Turkey's fundamental issue irresponsibly to further the interests of his party. He stalled the Kurdish people, democratic forces, and all the peoples of Turkey, even though he was offered all the conditions and opportunities for the solution of the Kurdish question. Other political powers were suspicious Erdogan's abuse of the issue and did not offer the necessary support.
Therefore this experience shows us that declaring ceasefires without an end to the utilisation of these ceasefires will only continue the AKP's policy of using them as a tool, therefore serving its insistence on not solving the Kurdish question. Matters relating to ceasefires should no longer be allowed to be utilised or approached in the interests of a particular party, but viewed as an issue that the whole of Turkey faces. Words, steps or actions that are not solution-driven and serve to stall and deceive have no significance. Repetition will do nothing but worsen the situation.
It is not the PKK nor the Kurdish Freedom Movement that created the Kurdish question. The PKK was formed because of the lack of a solution to the Kurdish issue, and has drawn attention to the issue as well as strengthening the grounds for a solution as it struggled against the policies of denial and extermination."
Turkish state must take a step
In their statement The KCK was adamant that the Turkish state needed to take the first step for negotiatons to resume.
"It is the Turkish state that must take a step for the solution of the Kurdish question and ensure a lasting solution. If the government fails to do this, the Kurdish people will create its own solution and continue to struggle for a free and democratic life. Nobody should expect a different approach from the Kurdish people and the Freedom Movement. However, the Turkish state is neither taking a step nor tolerating the Kurdish people’s creation of their own solution. The Turkish state cannot exit this vicious cycle if it does not abandon its anti-Kurdish policies and alliances."
Öcalan's health and safety
"As the Kurdish Freedom Movement, it is known that we have had to resort to war out of necessity. History has proven that peace in Turkey will come with the solution of the Kurdish question, and that this is only possible with the liberation of the Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan, who will play an important role in achieving this solution. Our leader is the fundamental bridge between the peoples of Turkey and the Kurdish people. Leader Öcalan has displayed the most reasonable approach to the solution of the Kurdish issue, but his approach wasn’t reciprocated, on the contrary, he was placed under stricter isolation.
While it was known that the coup plotters were very angry with our leader because of his analyses, our people’s concerns regarding his health and safety weren’t answered, and his family’s and lawyers’ most basic right, a demand to meet with him wasn’t granted. Not answering this urgent demand is a stance against our people, whose existence has been denied, and it proves that there is still no mindset and no policies for the democratic political solution of the Kurdish issue. If there was any intent for a democratic political solution, a meeting with Öcalan would have been set-up. In this regard the aggravated isolation imposed on our leader is at its core an isolation of the democratic political solution."
Solution possible if Turkish state takes steps
The KCK emphasised that a solution to the Kurdish question could come about in a short space of time if the Turkish state and government took steps. "If the Turkish state and the AKP government develop a policy for a solution, the Kurdish issue would be solved within a month, and peace will come to Turkey. As the Freedom Movement, our preference is for a democratic political solution. It is clear that we will make all necessary sacrifices to this end. But this requires a stance from the state and the government that guarantees that they won’t instrumentalise the ceasefires and conflict free periods. Nobody should expect a unilateral step from us in this regards.
However if the AKP government shows that it has the will to solve the Kurdish issue and makes a commitment to the peoples of Turkey to take the necessary steps, decides to start negotiations for a solution immediately with meetings between a Parliamentary Commission including the HDP and our leader, and they ensure Öcalan will have the opportunity to meet with his organisation [KCK/PKK] and all parties inside and outside parliament, all groups within Turkey who have views on democratisation and solutions to their own problems, primarily the Alevis, and NGOs and intellectuals; we as the Freedom Movement are prepared to fulfill every duty in the framework of the steps taken and reciprocal commitments.
This is not an imposition, nor is it putting forth conditions. These are the necessary steps to make sure that we do not return to the dire conditions we find ourselves in today. Great losses and pain has been caused by the policies that have instrumentalised matters relating to the solution of the Kurdish issue.
If the denial and extended genocidal policies [against Kurds] are discarded, and an approach that will stop the instrumentalisation of the Kurdish issue is displayed, we as the Freedom Movement will be the foremost defenders and practitioners of a solution enabling the peoples of Turkey to live in fraternity. This has been our goal in our decades long struggle and we will have realised it.
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