PKK’s 11th Congress: Our Project is a Democratic Project for the Whole Region

In an interview Özgür Gündem over the weekend, the paper sat down with Besê Hozat,  the co-president of the KCK. Hozat, who had just attended the PKK’s 11th Congress which took place earlier this month,  spoke to the paper about the ongoing peace negotiations and the effect that Öcalan’s continued imprisonment is having on their progress.

Hozat called Öcalan a “strategic actor” and emphasized that the state must take a “strategic approach” to their negotiation with Öcalan which recognizes the importance of his position in the Kurdish movement. Hozat also pointed to recent developments in Turkey, particularly the Gezi protests, and affirmed that the struggle will carry on in it is strongest form within a union of democratic forces. She began, however, by stressing the importance of common democratic struggle among all peoples of the region. Below are some excerpts from the interview, translated into English:

How does the PKK’s 11th Congress evaluate current developments in the Middle East and Turkey, the demands by the peoples of the region for democracy and the current social conditions?

The PKK’s 11th Congress debated the region’s political situation extensively and made important findings. The region is undergoing a period of great change. All of the region’s internal social dynamics are in motion. On the other hand all of the ethnic, cultural and faith communities of the region are on the streets with the same demands. The Middle East is not the old Middle East, it wants social democracy and freedom; it does not give in to oppressors and is resisting. All the of the region’s internal dynamics are really alive, in a state of resistance, and active in the struggle.

The foundational social problem of the region is that a new political structure – which would respond to the social and popular demands for an alternative project and which would be the foundation of a new, innovative and democratic system – has yet to emerge. In the region and in particular in the Arab world, the missing foundational element is this. This became the important point of debate at the conference. From this perspective the Kurdish freedom movement’s democratic-nation protect was taken as a project that could offer a solution for the whole region at a fundamental level. 

The other dimension however is the reality of the nation state in the region. This system is rooted in the region and regime change doesn’t touch this subject; change is more reflected in the administration of the state. In the place of nationalist dictators we get nationalist-religious dictators.

The wars are a reflection of the great interest that the hegemonic powers have in the region. What is happening in Syria is in reality a major world conflict.

However from a perspective that considers the organization of democratic forces in the region – if this can be achieved and these forces can be united and can begin to direct a common struggle – then a democratic system would emerge as the strongest option and would develop. The congress took special note of these points and made a number of important findings.

Turkey is not disconnected from the regional developments in which itself is involved. If the Turkish state insists on anti-democratic, denialist, and exterminist policies, then it will be forced to experience what has been experienced in Syria. The Turkish State has been oppressing the Kurdish, Laz, Circassian, Christian and Alevi peoples for a century. They have murdered them and initiated a cultural, economic and political genocide against them. The forty-year struggle of the Kurds against this denialism has opened the way for a great awakening among the people of Anatolia. The internal dynamics in Turkey are also in motion with the desire for democracy and freedom. Peoples’ democracy is developing, the state and the government’s old power is going and they are losing.

At the PKK’s 10th Congress the process of struggle was directed at a foundational level toward the freedom of the President of the KCK, Abdullah Öcalan. How did the 11th Congress evaluated the five year period since then?

The process of struggle that was initiated by the PKK’s 10t Congress have been a comprehensive one over the past 5 years. We are in a situation where the struggle to win freedom for [Öcalan] is tied to any solution to this problem. It is directly tied to a democratic solution to the Kurdish problem. This is to say that [Öcalan’s] freedom means a democratic solution to the Kurdish problem and it means the freedom of the Kurds.