This interview appeared in the Kurdish run Özgür Gündem newspaper last week. This is the first part of my English translation here. It starts with an introduction from the editors. I had a tough time with this, the prose is political, thorny, and the syntax difficult to translate. The pictures are the pictures from the article.
An Inside Analysis of the ‘KCK Operations’
Since April of 2009, thousands of people have been incarcerated in the so-called ‘KCK’ operations directed against the Kurdish political movement. In wave after wave of operations, Kurdish politicians, human rights advocates, union members, journalists, elected city officials and attorneys have been targeted. These operations have begun to include segments of society that stand close to the Kurdish political movement. These operations have continued without relent, and thousands of people have been locked up for more than three years, under indictment but unable even to defend themselves. The operations under discussion have been termed a ‘political genocide’ by the Kurds, and the officials of the reigning AK Party have admitted countless times that these operations are the result of cooperation between the government and the judiciary. With this as the general framework, two correspondents of the DIHA, Ömer Çelik and Çağdaş Kaplan, found themselves among the 36 journalists arrested in the December 20, 2011 operation against institutions in the Kurdish media. They have prepared a series of interviews with prisoners in Kandira’s High Security F Type Prison. The first guest in Çelik and Kaplan’s series, named ‘An Inside Analysis of the KCK Operations,’ is one of the instructors at the Peace and Democracy Party’s (BDP)Academy and current prisoner at the Kandira High Security F Type Prison, Kemal Seven.
DIHA—The Dicle Haber Ajansı (Tigris River News Agency), quickly and in short, a news agency targeting news for Kurds and news in Kurdish.
If Society Awakens, then this sultanate will come to an end.
The aim is that by criminalizing the legal activities of our academies, the rest of society will keep a distance from us, because if society awakens, the current sultanate of elite politicians will come to an end. Their basic fear is this: democratic autonomy will open the way for a new humanity so that egalitarians, revolutionaries, advocates for freedom, and ecological entities will be understood and embraced by the majority of society
Ömer Çelik/Çağdaş Kaplan
Q. Why were the BDP Academies targeted?
The purpose of targeting the academies is obvious. The academies serve as centers of both knowledge and enlightenment. They offer as their dominant mission: contributing to the efficient cooperation of sensitive and aware individuals with organized democratic structures of freedom advocates. And while it is unacceptable, it is also understandable that the academies, as focal points of an alternative manner of social structure on the path to the construction of a Democratic Autonomy, have been targeted. This approach makes clear the Fascism at the heart of the unitary nation state. In today’s world, knowledge and science, thus the academies, equal power, and the state will never accept or tolerate a power it cannot control. For this reason, by criminalizing Kurds, whom they regard as enemies, they are trying to paint them as illegal institutions in the eyes of society. The basic aim of the operations is this.
In terms of Kurdish politics, what do the political academies assert? Where do they stand and what do they want to achieve?
The academies play an important role in making sure there is a correct understanding of the details of Democratic Autonomy, which is an important aspect of the statutes and programs of the BDP. They also make sure this understanding is communicated to the masses in the correct manner. When it comes to what they want to achieve, in place of the mentality of an ultra-centralized nation state system which is destructive of moral values, which is colonialist, which is monist, we hope to accustom the masses to the need for an understanding based on democratic, ecological decentralized units of regional autonomy, which ensure gender equality, and in which the role of the state is reduced.
To help society grasp the need for a localized and democratic system for both the governed and those who govern, from town provincial legislatures to the national parliament, from village communes to the neighborhood and city councils.
To ensure that politics is founded on a political line with a strong moral base. To ensure the understanding, to the best of their ability, of every segment of political society which perceives the struggle for wealth and privelege as their right. To make people grasp, as much as possible, that in place of international capitalist groups and nation states with imperialist designs, our life relationships need a natural social philosophy which teaches that happiness for all human beings can only be achieved with a civil society organized in accordance in harmony with the environment.
What is the basic characteristics that separate academies of the other political parties and yours.
We run our schools on a strictly volunteer basis, while their educational efforts rely on payment. The education given at their academies is structured on the idea that the teacher transmits information to the student, whose role is to listen. As for us, student participation is of the essence. There is a reciprocal system of teaching and being taught. The aim of their academies and education is to serve the racist, monist, Turk-Islamist line. Ours aim is a multicultural and democratic lifestyle. In place of outmoded and distorted historical and sociological information, we stand on scientific data and multifaceted results. Other than the BDP, the aim of the education given by the party in power and the other opposition parties has been money. They are oriented toward maintaining control with an understanding based on a sacred state, profit, and getting rich. The BDP Academies, on the other hand, aim to create a balanced, livable society in harmony with nature, a free and democratic society that is not colonialist or focused on profit. The most important difference of all is that while at the system’s party academies, the educational philosophy is based on an understanding that enslaves people and deifies the state, we seek equal, free, and strong-willed individuals. What is holy is the right to life.
After the operations, government authorities, in regard to the curriculum at the academies, said they were ‘inciting the people to rebellion’. What is your view on this?
The political academies are in the position of being centers of strength. If centers of strength are not under their own supervision, then the prevailing powers began to fear them and plot to get rid of them. As they put this paranoia into practice, they thrust the academies into a full psychological war with their efforts to secure the legalization of this paranoia. Those who say that the academies are encouraging people to rebel have sunk into a pit lacking conscience or morals. These proclamations also attempt to intercept the reactions which can come from sympathetic people. The aim is that by criminalizing the legal activities of our academies, the rest of society will keep a distance from us, because if society awakens, the current sultanate of elite politicians will come to an end. Their basic fear is this.
Why are the political powers so unsettled by the democratic participation of people in politics?
Because governments under the supervision of monopolies and centers of global power have people well on their way to becoming mere servants. With antidemocratic policies, they seek, as much as possible, to strangle the political defenders of democracy and take them down a road beyond a point that can be affected by politics. The people can only participate in politics in proportion to their ownership and knowledge of democracy. This opens a way to change the status of the party in power which sits inside the darkness of its colonialism and dirty dealings. The basic reason for the wild attacks of those unsettled is this.