Abdullah Öcalan’s Newroz statement is a message of peace. He calls for a cease-fire and total commitment to peaceful co-existence in Northern Kurdistan (Turkey). This is not the first message of its kind: since Öcalan’s arrest in 1999, he and the PKK have announced six previous unilateral ceasefires.
On its way to Rojava, our delegation is stranded in Qandil, the hinterland of the guerrilla forces. Öcalan’s cease-fire call is widely supported here. During our stay in the mountains of Northern Iraq, we have the opportunity to speak to Cemil Bayik, one of the founding members of the PKK and general secretary of the KCK, The congress of the people of Kurdistan. We ask him what Öcalan’s message means for the Kurdish cause, which starts us off on a conversation which will last several hours.
“The PKK has experienced time and again that whenever we announce a cease-fire, paramilitary units start their provocations. In the villages surrounding Amed (Dyarbakir), schools are set on fire, people are arbitrarily murdered. The aim is self-explanatory: the Turkish regime wants to incite the Kurdish population into the kind of frenzy that leads to terrorist acts. Since the early 2000’s, however, the PKK has opted to make an all-out effort for political and democratic struggle in Turkey. The violence of the 1980’s and 1990’s has claimed a steep human death toll on both sides. On the one hand, armed resistance has allowed us to gain support among the Kurdish population, but on the other hand it has alienated the Turkish population. In the long term, that does not benefit our struggle.” Continue reading