The protocol between the DHKP-C and the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) was discussed, signed and announced to the public under the name of “This is Our Call to Build the Revolutionary Front” during the last month of 1996, and became a source of fear for the oligarchy and happiness and new hope for democrats and revolutionaries.
The period since then has clearly not met up to these expectations. Obviously this can be evaluated from several angles. But those responsible for this failure continue to criticise and adopt a superior attitude to the left wing in Turkey (in their words, “the Turkish left wing”) about the concept of unity, as if the left wing does not exist and they themselves bear no responsibility. This is a matter that should be debated separately.
For instance, to give a recent example, the ARGK (People’s Liberation Army of Kurdistan, military wing of PKK) said in the latest issue of Alternatif magazine that; “Towards this force (DHKP-C) our approach was under the concept of unity. The deficiencies in their understanding of struggle are holding them back from unity. In particular, there has been the war in Kurdistan, its effects on the masses and again, new improvements in the situation in Turkey, and despite all these, their inactivity apart from organising a front has created uneasiness even among their cadres. But they still insist upon their known attitude and line regardless of all these. In fact, the main principle of Marxism is to favour the broadest possible unity. At this point they could not tolerate our presence in Turkey. If they call themselves “democratic and revolutionary’, they should participate in regional and local unity – if nothing else is possible.” (Alternatif, January-February 1998, issue no: 6-7) The Revolutionary Front is the necessity for the Revolution of Turkey. It will be built one way or another. We have not changed our mind about it. Within struggle and war, there is no place for disappointments. If this time there was no success, next time we’ll try again. We will continue our struggle against an attitude which has a negative impact on unity and fronts. This also shows our persistence and determination about unity.
Let’s look at this passage. There is no trace of the “Call for the Revolutionary Front”. It says that “they should participate in regional and local unity”. In fact, we declared that we could go beyond this point. Why does the commander speaking on behalf of the ARGK ignore this fact?
He ignores it, Because there is no such idea or formation of such unity, a revolutionary front, on the agenda of the ARGK, ERNK (National Liberation Front of Kurdistan) or the PKK.
Whoever says that we do not participate in unity should read the protocol once more. Whoever had forgotten or did not pay enough attention should check again. What did we say, what happened and why did it not work?
(1) We gave our word to build the Revolutionary Front. We reached an agreement to put it into practice and initiate it. We declared and signed that “we are ready to show the necessary effort and self-sacrifice”. This was covering all areas of struggle. Of course, the Revolutionary Front would not be created with intentions but with concrete steps, organisations and institutions that cover life and practice. The problem occurred at this point.
(2) Firstly, a joint committee would be formed, which will control and make sure the protocol will be put into practice. This was brought on the agenda right after the formation of the protocol and agreement had been reached. The decision was made about how and where this committee would be formed. The PKK asked for 1-1.5 months to organise the place where the committee would be formed. We agreed. It took one year. Nothing was done. Our questions of “what happened, why did it not start?” did not make a difference. And our questions have received no answers even now.
Unity for the construction of the Revolutionary Front is a serious business. In a situation where the matters agreed upon are not carried out and they do not bother to explain the reasons, the required seriousness is no longer present.
(3) Despite this, we wanted to take some steps in these areas. We pushed harder. In almost all these areas, they did not want to be in unity.
Besides, we said in the protocol “Our alliance that aims to form and develop the unity of our peoples in a front, undertake the development of the collective organisations and struggle against the common enemy for the interests of our peoples and revolution in all legal institutions, trade unions, professional boards, democratic positions like associations, among workers and civil servants, the press and cultural front, in the villages, among student youth, in the jails and residential areas and abroad, where our parties are in charge or are participating.”
A protocol was signed for the workers and civil servants sector only with great difficulty. This was also full of comedy. No matter what, they wanted to put the word “peace” in the protocol papers. It came to the point where the words “peaceful struggle” were put in. And they did not obey any of the principles or concepts of this protocol. They did not keep their promises in the General Congress of SES (Trade Union of Health Workers). By breaching the agreements they rejected the revolutionary alliance out of fear of losing union positions. When we asked for their self-criticism, they grew aggressive. Nobody accepted responsibility. In Maliye-Sen1 “The Patriotic Workers” denied the alliance by declaring that the protocol has no significance for them. Even the lack of seriousness about the protocol did not bother them. In Genel-Is2 they signed the resolutions whose objective was liquidation. In the Congress of DISK3, they were not in unity against the MGK4 efforts at liquidationism within DISK. (4) Unity efforts among youth were left to fail. They said, “either what we say willl be done, or nothing”. In the end, this did not happen. Their understanding was that everything revolves around them. Anything else was wrong.
(5) They did nothing to establish the People’s Councils, and did not even attend them. This is what we said in the protocol: “WE AIM TO SPREAD THE ALLIANCE TO ALL AREAS. In the light of today’s concrete duties, to organise the democratic opposition of our peoples, we aim and take it as a duty to develop a council which will cover all forces, to enable our peoples to participate and make decisions through these councils, to create opportunities for self-determination, and therefore to establish the local People’s Councils, from the smallest residential areas to the biggest cities, in every area.” All revolutionary popular opinion can bear witness to this: since then in many places the councils have started to function, but the PKK did not participate in the work, including in the areas where they have a presence, and in some other places it was not clear whether they have been participating or not, where they display an unserious attitude. (6) To write a new Constitution and have people acknowledge it as their own was our collective idea. This was also mentioned in the protocol. “We take it as a duty to prepare a draft constitution that aims for independence and democracy, and have people acknowledge it by providing for the participation of all anti-imperialist, anti-fascist organisations and individuals who want freedom and justice.”
We prepared the Draft Constitution and gave it to them. They said they have no objection but only The Right of Self-Determination of Nations should be detailed. There was no problem. When it was time to continue the campaign, they were not interested. During the debate they said things like “they are busy, it is not today’s job and you do it”. And it is not certain what to say and to whom. In almost each contact the responsible ones on their side were different. The newcomer says, ” he/she does not know anything about it”. Some of them would even say, “People’s Councils? What are they?”
(7) We made suggestions about collective practical organising. It was clear that this would also develop the implementation of the protocol. For example, the occupation of territory in Iraq by the Turkish oligarchy was on the agenda. We said, let’s do something together. They did not accept this.
We said, let’s celebrate Newroz (Kurdish new year) together. They did not accept this.
(8) We said, let’s organise the struggle of the captives in the prisons collectively. They accepted it. In fact, they (at the top level) suggested the establishment of “the United Resistance Committees” in the prisons. We asked them how they were thinking of doing it. They did not reply. Later we suggested that the prisoners’ central structures should debate it themselves and a collective organisational model would be implemented. The prisons debated. At the end the PKK captives said, “there is no common point to agree on in the prisons.”
In the reply to the document submitted by the DHKP-C captives, the PKK prisons central structure said: ” First of all, our approaches towards the prisons and the foreseen roles of the dungeons are different. Our understanding of the actions and the foreseen roles of the dungeons are far apart. On this basis to form a collective platform and centre for coordination is very difficult. We do not think that your suggestion of the establishment of a coordination centre for all prisons is realistic. Neither would it function.”
It said in the document, “You made a suggestion during the talks at central level about united resistance committees, but you did not mention how they would be formed.” However, what they wrote back to us said nothing about them. So why was the suggestion made in the first place?
(9) This is what these concrete developments show; all their words are for propaganda only. They are just words. They cannot be in unity with anyone. The aims of the articles in their publications like “let’s unite and establish a collective headquarters” are for propaganda. Within this propaganda, the most striking one is the words of “whoever wants whatever, we’ll give it” and it is repeated frequently. In fact, the PKK do not join in such relations with anyone. The PKK only want useful forces that support and revolve around them.
These are the realities we live with concretely. Before the protocol, in a guerrilla zone, we were facing great difficulties. Again the PKK were talking from on high. We asked for certain minimal things from them, whether through them selling them to us, lending or giving them as solidarity. They did not even reply.
Besides, after some time, two of our fighters escaped from this same zone with their weapons. The PKK seized these weapons and did not give them back. We demanded them, one year passed and still they did not reply.
Where are solidarity, revolutionary behaviour and principles?
While this is the situation, what shall we do together and how?
The PKK will be comfortable if we say; “f you want you can lead our troops”, “let’s share the delegates in such and such a place” etc. The reality of politics and organisation cannot be like this. We remind them to be realistic. But their involvement is a matter of propaganda.
(10) The legal organisations within the PKK orbit wanted to be with reformists like the ÖDP (Freedom and Solidarity Party) and did not want to be seen with revolutionaries. Therefore there could not have been any alliance in actions. We insisted, but to no avail.
The alliance in legal and democratic areas that was also foreseen in the protocol became impossible as a result of such politics. In this subject no political resolution could be made and the signature under the protocol did not carry any weight for anyone within these areas. The main problem is not the non-recognition of central decisions in the regions but far more the unwillingness of their centre to act in unity and collectivity.
(11) They say, “let’s publish a daily paper together and use TV” etc. OK, but suggest a project to us and let’s talk about it, we say. When concreteness is required, the subject is forgotten. In reality the PKK want only “workers”, not sharing or collective administration.
(12) We were open and took seriously every subject and every word. Whenever it was necessary, in certain subjects, we told them they were wrong or had wrong information and gave the correct information. We said, if there is a problem, first ask us.
As if nothing had happened, we were been sold via TV. They prepared TV programmes to fawn upon Sabanci and compliments were broadcast. (The Sabancis are the owners of one of the biggest trusts and are members of the oligarchy in Turkey. One of them, Özdemir Sabanci, was executed by the DHKP-C in 1996.) Our actions were announced as suspicious. When the name of a country was mentioned in the Middle East and connected with Mustafa Duyar’s capture, they panicked and that country was fawned upon, we were sold again (Duyar was one of those who punished Özdemir Sabanci. He later turned traitor and surrendered to the Turkish embassy in Syria, where he had taken refuge.)
(13) They suggested to us the making of a TV programme about March 30. We accepted it. The programme was prepared. Two days later the programme was cancelled without asking our opinion. The reason was obvious. Everything had to be theirs. Later, the mentioned programme was put in the archives, another programme was prepared with three or four untrustworthy reformists, they talk about March 30 and meanwhile by using them as shop-windows, they bring themselves to the fore. Is unity possible with such a mentality?
(14) A revolutionary front would consist also of the armed forces, the guerrillas. But the reality is, the ones who cannot establish unity in minor things can never establish unity among guerrillas. The alliances that have allegedly succeeded have nothing to do with proper alliances and fronts. Everything is obvious. “The United Forces” is mentioned. There is no such thing. There are only a few men of the TDP5. They do not even mention them.
Many of the actions in the Black Sea region and Taurus Mountains were claimed by the ARGK in their publications. But in the recent issues of Alternatif magazine, in articles like “Conversation by radio”, it has been said that the actions were carried out by the United Forces. For example, in Ülkede Gündem (The Agenda in the Country) and Özgur Politika (Free Politics) daily newspapers of August 17-18, it is published that in Mesudiye/Ordu the guerrillas organised a checkpoint action and a policeman was shot. The news was headed as “The ARGK guerrillas, who have intensified activities in the Black Sea region” The same action was claimed by the United Forces in the November-December “97 issue of Alternatif. There are dozens of similar examples. The majority of the actions that are claimed by the United Forces and written about in Alternatif were also claimed by the ARGK in the mass publications. What is the aim? In the mass-circulation publications, ARGK, in the others, United Forces. Is this kind of unity possible, is there a serious attempt at unity here? And after that, it is said that there is no formation and programme of the United Forces yet. In November 1997, in Alternatif, while the actions were claimed by the United Forces, in Yurtsever Genclik (Patriotic Youth) magazine in November 1997, Semdin Sakik wrote that “The name of this organisation is not formally announced yet. But such activity will take place.” These things are lacking in seriousness.
As a participant in the United Forces, the DHP is also mentioned. In fact there is no such organisation called DHP. The PKK, in order to enlarge the scope for manoeuvre, is using this name through some of their men. This route is dangerous and forces the concept of unity into a cul-de-sac. It is not too difficult after all. Everybody can establish “organisations” internally and use such names. Revolutionaries do not cheat each other.
(15) In the beginning of the passage in Alternatif, it says that; “n the last 4-5 years, the DHKP has been present in the areas like Ovacik and Dersim. We acted together. A period of winter was spent together…” Unserious comments. As with announcing “the United Forces” and comfortably claiming the actions by the ARGK, they used to talk as they wish and not be made accountable and explain their actions. Announcing our presence in Dersim in the last 4-5 years is not because of ignorance but follows their logic, which is to belittle others. Since 1991, for the last 8 years, we have had guerrillas in Dersim. The lines of “we spent the winter together” have nothing to do with Dersim. The mentioned togetherness happened in Tokat. Because of the operations in Sivas, they came to Tokat, in a chance meeting they said they had no contacts and required help, and all kind of facilities were provided, including a shelter. (Photographs of this shelter were also published in the media during an operation by the state in Turkey.) Even then they were at such a stage in relations that they introduced themselves as DHKP-C guerrillas to peasants, rather than using their true identities. How can an organisation use another’s name, what kind of understanding is this? (16) In an interview with the ARGK, they say “they helped us”. This subject was mentioned in several other articles and speeches. They should reveal how they helped us. These kind of comments are written and said very often. We repeat: it is not correct. If the other way round is claimed, they should reveal it.
(17) The “Spreading to Turkey” programme of the PKK is not new. In this matter the comment of “the left-wing could not do it, we waited, therefore we are doing it now” is wrong. Since 1990, to establish an organisation for Turkey and develop DHP is on their agenda. They could not succeed at it.
The function of the DHP was only to make the propaganda of the PKK and to swear at the left wing, especially us, in PKK style. They had no other significant work to do. During the period when our organisation was facing an internal conflict, they shamelessly invited our militants to go over to their organisation and, using the same tactics as the putschists, announced that “the DS (Devrimci Sol, Revolutionary Left) is finished” A very opportunist and primitive way of understanding. The DHP, naturally, cannot develop within the logic of the PKK and cannot achieve an original line. It can only function as an advertisement for the PKK. There is either the PKK or the DHP. Both cannot exist. They are producing a caricatured version of the former Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s attitude.
(18) The PKK do not participate in any partnership unless they are in control. Relations on the basis of equality are not to their taste neither. They will be in charge and in control. The functioning of an alliance involving the PKK is subject to this condition. Where the PKK has no control, the agreements and signatures are invalid as far as the PKK is concerned.
“Administrative unity? Let’s do it,” they say. The questions of how it will happen and what the function is are left uncertain. When we say let’s concretise, they are silent. We have faced many examples of this.
The protocol is here, let’s put it into action. Why was it not applied? Let’s discuss it, render an account and renew it.
Who is responsible for what and what are the limits of authority? Let’s define them. Let’s make detailed and concrete programmes how the Revolutionary Front will be formed in all areas. As far as we are concerned, there is no obstacle to these. We took the necessary steps in these and are ready for new ones. But steps which meet with no response cannot go forward in a one-sided manner.
The idea of “left-wing congress” was brought. We said, it is not realistic. But if you can do it, do it. If the result is positive and unity is established, the necessary action will be taken. They did not even go a step further. Those who cannot be in unity with us, can be in unity with nobody.
(19) At the level of international relations, the PKK do not show the attitude of solidarity, continuously spreading the politics of blackening others, especially us. In July 1997, during the International Youth Festival in Cuba, the bulletin they distributed is a striking example.
” Turkish revolutionaries could not free themselves of the official ideology of the Turkish state, Kemalism. They have no power to do this and therefore they are the captives of chauvinism. They are on the side of the Turkish state and they do not fulfil their internationalist responsibilities towards the Kurdish guerrillas.
Meanwhile the Turkish leftists formed a basis for the military coups taking place every 10 years. First of all, we want to comment on that reality. Kemalism is a secret fascism administrated by western imperialists. Its mission is to organise massacres against Armenians, Greeks and Kurds and protect the capitalist system. If the Turkish leftists cannot understand this, they cannot perform their internationalist responsibilities”
Is unity possible when such a style and logic exists that sees the “Turkish left” as set out above? In spoken terms they do not hesitate to blacken others and come up with such comments. While the reality is obvious, the words about help in every area, solidarity and “we’ll give and do what you want” are only misleading.
(20) In most cases the politics of the PKK leadership are based upon belittling the Turkish left. There are several consequences of this logic, one of them is always being in search of a unity that will be subservient to it. Because the “Turkish left” is seen as forces to be administered and directed. This logic was also used to send several messages to the oligarchy.
In an interview with Cumhuriyet (Republic) paper, the following question is asked to (PKK leader Abdullah) Öcalan, “A protocol between the PKK and Dev-Sol is mentioned. Is Dev-Sol an extension of the PKK in the cities?”
Öcalan replies, “n general, the type of environment that I created gave the left the chance to breathe. But to say that we gave a mission to Dev-Sol consciously is exaggeration. It is correct that Dev-Sol gets power from us. But we do not have such directives like kill such and such. I clarify it openly. We could use them properly. The Turkish left is unbelievably backward” (Cumhuriyet, 7.12.1991, Semin Idiz)
The definition is clear: “They do not give missions to Dev-Sol consciously” but they can, that is, they can direct it. The PKK is ready for an agreement with the state, the PKK also has the power to affect Dev-Sol, so the state should use this opportunity! This is what is said.
Here is another interview. IHA interviewed Öcalan, it was not broadcast on IHA, but broadcast on MED TV. “The late (Turgut) Özal (Turkish prime minister) had a will. I value it. We should make it the topic of the day. Erbakan also has made some approaches. This should be on the agenda as well. There are even some voices in the military, with all my true feelings these should be clarified. I want a beautiful Turkey with all my heart. I also had relations with the Turkish left. Even with Dev-Sol and such. I believe in the necessity to introduce them to the political arena. There are many such groups. I will endeavour to solve all their problems within democratic boundaries. Some should not be uncomfortable about this.”
That is, who is pulling whom and where? Who is giving duties and to whom? There is no such thing. More importantly, the mentality is unhealthy. Relations with revolutionary organisations cannot be used as tools for giving messages to the bourgeoisie.
(21) This approach in the PKK, looking down on the other organisations as forces to be directed and administered is also widespread among their rank and file. Each of them acts like a coarse overseer who sees others as being there to take orders. The words have no meaning. Whatever is said today is denied the next day. “Forget it, let’s look at the future. Let’s look at such work.. ” is said. Another one comes and denies what the previous one said too. That is, whatever is on their agenda they try to engage you to it. They want you to be in a position of a simple supporter.
(22) The expansion of the guerrillas on the mountains of our country is a threat to the oligarchy. And one of the necessary actions to clear the obstacles in front of the class war and develop revolution is clearly to provide this expansion. But it is also clear that, bringing this expansion on the agenda for “tactical” purposes will not develop the revolution. For the PKK, making “extending to Turkey” a reality means extending to the Black Sea Region. The PKK show it as proof. But the PKK have no significant forces in the Black Sea Region. The oligarchy exaggerated the present situation in order to intensify oppression there, and they also succeeded in their objective.
(23) Their comment about extending towards the Black Sea and Taurus Mountains as “strategic”, not “tactical” means the failure of the principal strategic thesis of the PKK.
The colonialism thesis has failed and extending to Turkey was born as a result of the failure.
As we mentioned, “extending to Turkey” is not a new concept for the PKK. But extending to Turkey is a political preference, and sending guerrillas to several mountains of Turkey alone does not mean there is an extension to Turkey. In a different area, the line of HADEP and HEP was that “we are parties of Turkey”. And these parties had branches in almost every city of Turkey. Despite this they could not extend to Turkey and stayed Kurdish parties. Because they do not have the mentality of being from Turkey and on the contrary, their political method is limited within the bounds of Kurdish nationalism. The essence of the problem is the same in all areas of struggle.
To hide the failure of the separate revolution (in this sense separate organising, a separate struggle) and to hide the bankruptcy both of “extending to Turkey” and the colonialism theory, they are now claiming that they had this perspective from the start.
For instance; “the relations between our revolution with the revolution of Turkey is not like the relations between the revolutions of two countries. The futures of our peoples are to be interwoven. This and some other reasons are compelling the uniting of our revolution’s development.” (September 14, 1997, Ülkede Gündem, M Can Yuce) and again “if there will be revolution, it will happen in Turkey and Kurdistan together” (Semdin Sakik)
In the Kurdish nationalist press, you can read many similar comments. We have been saying such things for years. But these were ignored and criticised as “Kemalism”. An understanding, which puts the Turkish people on the same level as the Greek people in their party programme, and which is now saying things of the type we have quoted above, requires that an evaluation be made of the past. If such an evaluation is not made, it will have no power to persuade; moreover, unifications and alliances will not meet with a response.
The protocol carrying signatures at the central level is known. Up to now, we were faithful towards all our signatures. We also showed the same fidelity in the protocol. Whatever we have done is known. Despite our concrete suggestions and persistence, whatever the PKK did not do is also known. In order to reach the goals of the protocol, we have almost run after the PKK in areas. We prepared the constitution and presented it. We made suggestions in practical matters. We showed openness. What we got in return is the same attitude, behaviour and insensitivity as was the case before the protocol.
The necessity to discuss the problems was stated to them but we could not get a reply. Therefore this explanation became essential.
The signature was disowned. They used methods with us that cannot be used in revolutionary relations.
As long as attitudes do not change, building the revolutionary front becomes impossible. Minds should be changed. Political methods should be changed.
The Revolutionary Front is a must for the revolution of Turkey. One way or another it will be established. We will not give up. There is no place for disappointment in the struggle and war. This time, if it did not happen the right way, we’ll try again. We will continue our struggle against understandings failing to result in fronts or unification. This is also a sign of our determination and persistence with regard to the concept of unity.
1 Trade Union for the workers in the institutions of the Ministry of Finance
2 General Workers Union
3 The Confederation of Revolutionary Workers Unions
4 National Security Council
5 Revolution Party of Turkey