Interview with Mr. Kemal Burkay (2nd Part): ‘Democratic Autonomy’ is not a Well-Grounded Demand
Interview with Mr. Kemal Burkay: ‘Democratic Autonomy’ is not a Well-Grounded Demand
Chairman of The Rights and Liberties Party (HAK-PAR), Poet and Writer
Once again a possibility of giving an end to the armed conflict in Kurdish problem has come to the agenda. In the first part of the interview, we had discussed the history of the Kurdish politics in Turkey since the separation of Kurdish movement from Turkish left in 1960s with Kemal Burkay. In the second part of the interview, Mr. Burkay, Chairman of the Rights and Liberties Party, poet and writer, analyses changes in the political demands of Kurdish politics that follow Öcalan’s footsteps throughout years and the position it has taken in the recent peace process for Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (Research Turkey).
A Synopsis (Summary) of the Interview:
“So the Kurdish movement was evolving in a mass, pacifist way and was able to control the area in the 1960s-1970s. The PKK appeared, and declared this movement as an enemy.”
“The army didn’t let the civilians to change even a bit.”
“PKK considered the establishment of People’s Labour Party (HEP) as a betrayal.”
“The PKK does not allow the BDP, similar how the army did not allow other parties’ initiative once.”
“Öcalan and his party, the PKK, were already saying ‘Independent Kurdistan’. He accused federation and autonomy demands as betrayal. He considered these as ordinary, criticized it as reformist.”
“After he was arrested, Öcalan started to support the unitary state and Kemalism.”
“I think this was a perfect engineering work from the beginning till the end. The PKK’s establishment, its reorganisation after Öcalan was caught, the fixation of the broken nets were a great engineering work by the government.”
“We demand an inclusive definition of citizenship in the new constitution, more powers to local governments, right to education in mother tongue, the recognition of Kurdish language as the second official language of Turkey and federation.”
“The CHP must support constructive steps and if it finds the steps insufficient, it must come up with well-coordinated proposals and projects for the resolution of this problem.”
“It’s obvious that KCK has been developed as a government project to control the Kurdish movement.”
The Full Text of the Interview:
“The PKK brought nothing to Kurdish people. But we have reached a stage where even government, at least politicians, realised that this issue cannot be resolved with violence.”
Even if the PKK had been built by the deep state, couldn’t have the PKK later by ending the relation became an important part in the Kurdish movement? You told that you gained lots of acquisitions on behalf of the Kurdish people by peaceful political struggle before 1980 whereas the PKK terrorized both the region and the Kurdish movement. You mentioned that once it was established, how the PKK first targeted you and other Kurdish organisations and committed murders. As for the 1990s, we see that legal Kurdish parties appeared during this period and provided growing success, despite the permanent closures. And success, especially by new generations, is demoted to or at least associated with mostly the rise of the PKK, the environment it created and the serious connections these parties have with the PKK. But you claim that Kurdish movement that lasted in spite of the military coups, experienced the greatest loss with the PKK’s appearance?
New generations, unfortunately, do not know about that period’s story. Old members, who worked in TİP, TİSİP, TKP, know it. For example we shared the administration of TÖB-DER with TİSİP. In the second period, there were DEV-YOL, Kurtuluş, TİSİP and us, we shared the administration of TÖB-DER, and we were working together in the unions. That period’s democratic left members know us. Back then the PKK had not come out yet, it appeared in 1978. As soon as it came out, it applied armed methods that can be described as terrorism. It was not only towards us, for example, they shot many provincial heads of the TİKP (headed by Doğu Perinçek at the time). In Antep, in Urfa they shot the TİKP’s provincial heads. Then Perinçek became friends with them, it’s surprising! So the Kurdish movement was evolving in a mass, pacifist way and was able to control the area in the 1960s-1970s. The PKK appeared, and declared this movement as an enemy. Then coup occurred, Kurdish movement was terrorized but didn’t provide any acquisitions. The region was turned upside down, 4000 villages were burnt down, and millions of people were exiled. 50000 people lost their lives, 100 billion liras was wasted in this dirty war. Community got soiled, mafia-type organizations appeared inside and outside of the state. So in Turkish side militarism, in Kurdish side the PKK grew stronger; the PKK that doesn’t have democracy in itself and does not tolerate any view other than its own view, any organization other than itself, and uses violence. Therefore, society got into a whirl of violence, it was captured by violence. Now we are trying to get out of this situation. Since this is the way it is, it is not right to say that the PKK brought anything to Kurdish people, the PKK brought nothing to Kurdish people. But we have reached a stage where even government, at least politicians, realised that this issue cannot be resolved with violence. For the first time, Demirel (Süleyman Demirel) said “We acknowledge the Kurdish reality”, took a step, but couldn’t do much. Then Mesut Yılmaz said that “The way to European Union passes through Diyarbakır”, that is to say, the necessity of the resolution of the Kurdish issue. But he couldn’t do much, either, because the army was controlling everything. The army didn’t let the civilians to change even a bit. Çiller (Tansu Çiller) showed the Basque example. You know, at that time Çiller was engaged with that dirty war as the prime minister. She acted as the Iron Lady by saying “I’ve won all the wars; I will also win this one”. But from time to time she realised that this issue cannot be solved with suppression. But they also put words into her mouth right away. So they captured Tansu Çiller and Mesut Yılmaz, too. Demirel already acted consistent with the army. He, you know, could easily manoeuvre about this matter, and he did, until the beginning of 2000s.
“All right, Kurdish people lost a lot, they lost 30 years, but Turkey couldn’t gain anything from this, lost a lot. We lost mutually, Turkey couldn’t be democratised.”
So the explanations that Mesut Yılmaz made weren’t simple and populist, is that so? We know how powerful the military tutelage was in every area in 1990s. Do you suggest that the army captured the political parties and they didn’t have a chance to do anything inside that chain? On the other hand did the PKK capture Kurdish parties?
Kurdish movement was legalized in the 1990s with the establishment of HEP. We also contributed to its establishment. Back then I wrote articles, I said there is a need for a legal, mass party. Mostly social democrat, a democratic party I mean, not a socialist one. Our works and the domestic works of our friends got united with the congressmen, who were exported from the CHP because they were dealing with the Kurdish issue, unionists also participated and HEP came out. Our friends were very efficient in that party. PKK was against it, even described it as a betrayal. It is something that the PKK always does, if it is controlling something then there’s no problem, that’s O.K. If it is not, then sees it as an enemy. That’s what happened in the beginning, and then the PKK stepped in and seized the control. It was the time of the PKK’s massification. Then DEP was established. There were the PKK’s supporters, our supporters and people from other groups also in DEP. However DEP couldn’t work at ease, either, because of the PKK’s domineering and interventionist methods. PKK captured the organisation. After that, we went our separate ways. I mean, in legal platform, our supporters and the PKK’s supporters dissociated in the process. Our supporters founded other legal parties and the PKK’s supporters founded their legal parties. This legal tradition has survived until today. I find myself close to HAK-PAR. HAK-PAR was founded in 2002, I helped with the phase of its establishment at the backstage. I always said this; “There is a need for a party which highlights the legal methods, democratic methods”. Patriotic Kurdish people who do not adopt the PKK’s methods got together in here. They exclude violence but defend Kurdish people’s demands.
Can’t other Kurdish parties, for example the BDP, defend Kurdish demands freely?
They are under the PKK’s tutelage; they are not able to act freely. The PKK does not allow the BDP, like how the army did not allow other parties’ initiative once. Now you see how they silenced politicians from the BDP. Look at Osman Baydemir, he said that “Armed struggle have completed its appointed time”, they excluded him, silenced him. Ahmet Türk said something similar, they shut him up, insulted him. They silenced Leyla Zana. In the 1990s Turkish politicians were in this situation. When military tutelage regresses, one way or another civil politics gains its freedom. And now this is the problem, I mean the PKK actually didn’t provide any acquisitions after all, made us lose a lot. We lost our 30 years because of the PKK and even if the PKK fades from the scene and guns are buried; we will have a rehabilitation phase maybe for 30 more years. It was a great loss, who did this; it was military forces, conservative forces who wanted to protect the status quo. They thought that they can avoid social movement by the force of arms, by suppressing with force, but they were wrong. This damaged Turkey a lot. All right, Kurdish people lost a lot, they lost 30 years, but Turkey couldn’t gain anything from this, lost a lot. We lost mutually, Turkey couldn’t be democratised.
“Guns to be silenced and the PKK to bury the guns primarily will help the BDP to do politics freely. The Kurdish movement, Kurdish politics will become normal.”
But today the BDP praises itself for painting the East in one colour and receiving considerable amount of votes. Isn’t it important for a party that sympathizes with the PKK and defends Kurdish people to take over many cities?
Is taking over many city- municipalities enough alone? Also in the past, those cities’ mayors were Kurdish, people from that region. Either from the AKP or the BDP, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the chosen ones to be effective in the Kurdish issue. That is what’s going on with the resolution of the Kurdish issue, to what extent we use our language, to what extent Kurdish people co-determinate, is mother-tongue education provided?
Even so, the BDP is a massified party, haven’t you ever thought about participating in the BDP, uniting with it or leading a struggle in it? Is it a deadlock that the BDP can’t keep its distance from the PKK?
The BDP is a legal party as HAK-PAR, but it couldn’t keep its distance from the PKK. They already say that “we have the same base”. Therefore they can’t frankly tell the PKK to stop the violence and when they do they are being oppressed. We experienced this in the past too, you get nowhere with an association that uses violence. So I say that the BDP is also a massified party, it is quite powerful. We, I mean HAK-PAR, don’t have that kind of a power yet. Approximately 100 municipalities, 30 parliamentarians, support of 2 millions of votes, mass support; these are extremely important. But the BDP can’t keep its distance from the PKK, and so it can’t turn this power into a gain. It’s continuously affected by the PKK and it’s not able to do politics freely. Guns to be silenced and the PKK to bury the guns primarily will help the BDP to do politics freely. The Kurdish movement, Kurdish politics will become normal.
So you say that Kurdish politics might have several parties?
Of course it can happen, there can be good relations, alliances, electoral alliances between these parties. But guns must be silenced, violence must end. There mustn’t be a military tutelage over Kurdish Politics.
“What is democratic autonomy? They say that there is no need for borders, we don’t demand land, and Turkish language can stay as the official language. But this does not exist in any part of the world.”
I want you to open up HAK-PAR a bit. What makes HAK-PAR different from the BDP?
One of our differences from the BDP is the programme issue. The BDP and the pre-existing party that’s been shut down couldn’t act freely when they were creating their programmes. For instance, Öcalan gives orders from İmralı and they change their names, programmes according to these orders, it’s not right. It does not happen in HAK-PAR. Second one is, HAK-PAR is against violence. It frankly says: weapons must be silenced, the PKK should lay down the arms, we say this, and they don’t say it. This is a very important difference. Thirdly, we support federation; an equality-based federation for the Kurdish people. They weren’t defending anything before, and then they brought up something called “democratic autonomy”. What is democratic autonomy? They say that there is no need for borders, we don’t demand land, and Turkish language can stay as the official language. But this does not exist in any part of the world.
So, what the BDP defends is a lower autonomy than federation, is it?
Yes, it’s neither a federation nor autonomy. Autonomy can be regional, cultural. Generally when “autonomy” is mentioned, it means regional autonomy. You give the right of an autonomous government to the people who have different specialties in a specific region. When this happens, that region has its borders, symbol, flag, and parliament. If it speaks a different language, it becomes its official language. Now Kurdish people form the majority in nearly one third of Turkey’s geography. They have their own language, they have a history and culture. Therefore, for the resolution of the Kurdish issue a federative or autonomous body must be formed. But an autonomous body means regional autonomy. So these are empty demands. Öcalan and his party, the PKK, were already saying “Independent Kurdistan”. He accused federation and autonomy demands as betrayal. He considered these as ordinary, criticized it as reformist. He said, “Kurdish people must have a separate state, an independent state”. But after Öcalan got caught, he dropped all his demands. He said that independency, federation and autonomy are out of date demands, we want a “democratic republic”, and the PKK accepted this. The PKK even changed its name and was named as KADEK, became KONGRA-GEL. Then changed its worldview, first it was socialist, Marxist, left these ideologies behind, it went on like this until 2004. Finally “democratic autonomy” came into the picture.
So the PKK left its Marxist-Leninist standing?
Mr. Ümit, leave Marx and Lenin aside, they started to support Kemalism. Then this empty “democratic autonomy” came into the picture, guess why? What is democratic autonomy? In political terminology there is no such term. This is exactly a contradiction in terms and it’s being made on purpose. This is only a pacifier for distracting Kurdish people. Legal party BDP directly holds onto Öcalan’s these statements.
“This is the difference between the BDP and us; we know what we want, they don’t.”
Why do you think they brought this up? Don’t you ever think that the BDP and Öcalan cannot put their demands forward openly for now and later in the process they will give voice to their demands? Or do you think that this is not the way to do politics? For example they mention democratic autonomy, you claimed it to be an empty term, at this stage they say this but after achieving it they ask for something else and it goes on like this… Haven’t we experienced this with other leaders and parties?
No, I see the PKK and the BDP’s situation as tragicomic. After Öcalan got arrested, he dropped everything, he surrendered, he changed his point of view 180 degrees. And the BDP has never been free from İmralı’s demands and control. The BDP did whatever Öcalan ordered. After he was arrested, he did whatever the government ordered, back then general staff was dominant. Öcalan told them “I do whatever you ask from me”.
Do you think after Öcalan was arrested, Öcalan and therefore the PKK, totally got under the control of government? Do you see the PKK’s starting armed actions again as a part of a new dirty game that the government is also a part of?
Öcalan said exactly these at the court “I’m regretful, I did wrong, give me a chance to correct my mistakes. I don’t want a federation, independency or autonomy anymore, these are out of date”, and he started to support the unitary state and Kemalism. His association hesitated first, and then became dependent on Öcalan. Because this kind of an association, the PKK is organized under one chief, it only accepts him. They idolised him… The PKK followed its idol. If an association is free, and if it is really an association, it would come up against this. It would say “Okay, Öcalan can say so, but we don’t accept this, we have demands.” The PKK didn’t do this, like a cult that follows its sheikh… The ones who had different thoughts, who opposed were eliminated and this happened under the control of the deep state. Öcalan is under control in İmralı. They controlled the PKK through Öcalan and they didn’t disband the PKK. Öcalan said “we laid down the arms completely”, “open the way so that guerrillas will surrender”, so he meant, “they should lay down the arms”; but the government did not accept this. They said there is no need to disband it, we can use the PKK. Therefore even though that the PKK left its guns, name, everything, and fired no bullets until 2004, it didn’t come to an end. Then what did they do in 2004, they started to use arms again, they said lets fight a bit. Öcalan sent his lawyer to Kandil, he said “We will fight” and they started a war. And now they brought up this “democratic autonomy’ fairy tale for show only, this is a pacifier only for distracting the masses. It’s empty, has no other aim than distracting the masses. This is the difference between the BDP and us; we know what we want, they don’t.
“Military tutelage is regressed. Some of the generals who led a coup are being judged now; the army control over İmralı has reduced. The government strengthened its hand. Now the government is trying to disarm the PKK through Öcalan. If the PKK disarms, everybody wants this; the door for peace and resolution will be opened.”
There are opinions that relate the comeback of the PKK, which was told to be over, from 2004 on with traumatic acts and attacks with the conjuncture that was brought by Iraq War, support of the USA which was angry with Turkey and USA’s serious arms and logistics support. Do you think that these are also effective?
No, I think this was a perfect engineering work from the beginning till the end. The PKK’s establishment, its reorganisation after Öcalan was caught, the fixation of the broken nets were a great engineering work by the government. This way – the government would – keep Kurdish movement under control and use the PKK. Same play is on the stage again. They didn’t want to let any opposition to arise. Hence, they didn’t. For example once Hikmet Fidan wanted to found a different party, they shot him in Diyarbakır. Some opposed to the restart of the war in Kandil in 2004, they got eliminated. Nizamettin Taş and Osman Öcalan (Abdullah Öcalan’s brother) were against the war, so they left the mountain. But then everything went on as how the government wanted it to be, the PKK was again put in war position since 2004, to create a tension with conflicts, to turn it into a fireground and eventually lead to a coup. But juntas, the ones that stepped in, in 2002 couldn’t be successful. They are being judged in ‘Balyoz’ and ‘Ergenekon’ cases, these are important facts.
Do you say that in the increase of armed acts there is the effect of deep state, Ergenekon as expressed nowadays?
Yes. Ergenekon directed the incidents with its connections in the PKK. Back then Öcalan was in İmralı, under the control of the army, he sent his lawyer and asked the war to be started, it’s as simple as this. Öcalan was under the supervision of the Ergenekon and Balyoz. Thereby they brought the PKK into action, to stir up trouble. This is what Kenan Evren did before September the 12th… This has been made in a more obvious manner. But this time they couldn’t succeed, fortunately they couldn’t succeed. Now the situation is different for both the PKK and Öcalan. Military tutelage is regressed. Some of the generals who led a coup are being judged now, the army control over İmralı has reduced. The government strengthened its hand. Now the government is trying to disarm the PKK through Öcalan. If the PKK disarms, everybody wants this; the door for peace and resolution will be opened.
Well then, is the deep state really being eliminated in the Ergenekon process? Or is this just a struggle between juntas?
Juntas got caught, they are disgraced. It’s not anything, it’s extremely important but this doesn’t mean that the deep state is eliminated. And of course it’s not easy, deep state lost its ability to operate but I don’t think that it’s completely eliminated. I think there are still cells that have not given an account and awaiting, and sides that are waiting for an opportunity and if they find it they may again make provocation.
“Kurdish issue is a multidimensional issue. It concerns people over than 20 million who live in the borders of Turkey and forms the majority in a specific geographic area. This kind of an issue must be resolved as how it was resolved in other parts of the world. With a wider project, with more radical and courageous steps. That is a just resolution on the basis of equality.”
Let’s open up HAK-PAR a little bit more. What should be the demands of Kurdish people according to HAK-PAR? What do Kurdish people exactly want, for example a new constitutional law will be issued, what are Kurdish people’s demands at this point? What do you think as HAK-PAR?
We want a resolution on the basis of equality. And that is federation; we want Kurdish to be second official language in Turkey, as it is in Iraq. In Iraq, Kurdish is an official language besides Arabic. We also want it to be the same. The new constitutional law must seize the mother tongue education. The existing one is prohibiting this. Second one, a new identity must be described. Existing description of identity assumes everybody is Turkish, degrades everybody to one ethnicity; there mustn’t be an identity description such as this. Turkey is a very colorful society, where different people live in. Trying to turn everybody Turkish, calling everybody Turkish is a 90 years old wrong policy. And the problem is this policy’s output. A new identity description is necessary because this way Kurdish people can find a place for themselves, for the new constitutional law, they can say that this is our law, too. Third one is that there must be decentralization. Unitary state can’t meet Turkey’s needs. Turkish society is multi-colored. Decentralization must have a place in the new constitutional law, in practice this can be autonomy or federation. I think if the new constitutional law will be a democratic one and will offer a solution for the Kurdish issue and other issues, then these kinds of principles must take place in it. Apart from that, of course a more democratic constitutional law must be created, in compliance with the European standards, we want this.
You say that other democratic rights also must be developed. How did you face the AKP government’s coming into power? Steps were taken. Then “Kurdish Initiative” has been started, though after it was started its name was changed. How do you see the beginning of the process and after? Then do you think there was a mistake, a mistake in the method?
We approved the initiative, we supported it, but it didn’t last. Constructive things happened. For example, firstly Kurdish issue became arguable. It’s still being argued in newspapers and televisions. Besides, a Kurdish channel named TRT-Şeş started to broadcast, it’s of course constructive. Even in schools, 2 hours of mother tongue lessons were added. Kurdish language departments opened in some universities. We approved and always supported these. But it reached to some extent and then stopped, it didn’t continue. Kurdish issue is a multidimensional issue. It concerns more than 20 million people who live within the borders of Turkey and forms the majority in a specific geographic area. This kind of an issue must be resolved as how it was resolved in other parts of the world. With a wider project, with more radical and courageous steps. That is a just resolution on the basis of equality.
“The state of the ones who will lay down the arms must be clearly settled, way to politics must be opened.”
How do you find the latest negotiations? How do you see the process that has started with Oslo negotiations and continues in İmralı? Do you care about it?
Of course I care about it. For disarmament, to convince, it is natural to negotiate. The government is trying to get a result through Öcalan when Oslo negotiations came to nothing. But a negotiation can be made with the BDP, a dialog can be made with the PKK. The prime minister already said that these can happen, I find it natural. If the PKK lays down the arms after these negotiations, I would be pleased, for me, first disarmament must be provided reciprocally, and without this it is hard to create an environment for dialogue.
Can the PKK lay down the arms? We must be realistic, Karayılan (Mustafa Karayılan) says –when we lay down the arms we can lose everything, is this how it’s done, is this the method?
Arms can be laid down, with reassuring steps. The state of the ones who will lay down the arms must be clearly settled, way to politics must be opened. Political remission can be brought up later on.
Do you think the AKP gives this reassurance?
At this stage, there is no well-coordinated project yet.
In this last month first the prime minister made statements like we will bring the execution and then we will cancel the parliamentary immunity of the congressmen from BDP and then İmralı negotiations started to take place. Society is also confused about where it leads, what is happening.
This process has its ups and downs, to look at this and become completely optimistic or pessimistic is not right. If the government wants to get a result, it has to be decisive, it must be more courageous and it mustn’t retreat against obstacles. Because when we take a look at the previous practices, we see that it is not decisive at all.
“Until now the CHP couldn’t carry out a constructive opposition. They assumed that resisting every step taken is opposition, they even opposed to TRT-Şeş, they are even opposing to the right of defence in mother tongue. This way the CHP can’t contribute to the resolution of the problem, it will become inhibitive.”
Do you think other parties’ support is a must or the AKP should walk alone at this point?
Of course this is not only the AKP’s concern, especially main opposition party CHP’s attitude is extremely important. Until now the CHP couldn’t carry out a constructive opposition. They assumed that resisting every step taken is the opposition, they even opposed to TRT-Şeş, they are even opposing to the right of defence in mother tongue. This way the CHP can’t contribute to the resolution of the problem, it will become inhibitive. I don’t see the MHP as a negative case; they don’t even accept the existence of the Kurdish issue. If you don’t accept the existence of a problem, of course you can’t offer a solution. But the CHP has a more indecisive attitude, as the main opposition party its attitude is very important. Certainly, the CHP must support constructive steps and if it finds the steps insufficient, it must come up with well-coordinated proposals and projects for the resolution of this problem. Besides, the BDP mustn’t carry out policies based on the AKP opposition. It must try to become a side, a partner. It also must support the constructive steps and if it finds it insufficient, it must come up with suggestions that will resolve the problem. As HAK-PAR our policy is this. We are not prejudicial, from the beginning we supported the constructive steps, supported the government against the restraints of the status quo, but at the same time we say that the government needs to come up with a comprehensive project to solve the problem.
If you receive an invitation from the AKP asking for your contribution, would you want to contribute?
As a party, of course, we are a side in the resolution. The addressee in disarmament is the PKK, because they use the arms. But in the resolution of the Kurdish issue they are not alone as addressee, the PKK can’t represent Kurdish people alone and Öcalan is not the only representative of the Kurdish people alone. When it comes to the resolution of the Kurdish issue, we are also a party. Above all, there is a community, this people have demands and the government must fulfill these demands, it must do whatever it takes for a fair resolution in the basis of equality.
You gave many examples from the past, how do you interpret the three murders in France (murder of three women from the PKK).
I think this is an act for sabotaging the process. The inside of the affair has not been revealed yet, so we can’t say anything sure; but as it seems, it happened right after the process started, so it looks like an act for blocking the process.
“Middle East is changing; Turkey has to change its 90 years of refusal and assimilation. These ideas are now being argued vastly in the media. This will inevitably affect politics too.”
The change in the AKP’s foreign policy, the assertions that Turkey opened up to the establishment of Kurdistan state and changed its redlines, and the AKP’s nearly collaborating with Kurdish people in Iraq and Syria etc. … How do you evaluate these?
During the past 15-20 years there have been very important changes. For example, In Iraq, there is the formation of Kurdistan Federation, with its parliament, government and official language. Turkey has to accept this fact unavoidably. Now there is a change in Syria too, most probably after the Esad regime collapses Syria will be restructured. This can be a reconstruction as in Iraq, for example Kurdish people can construct an autonomous government in their area. This wind of change will continue, it will affect Iran, Iran has a vast Kurdish district that is described as East Kurdistan. From the Armenian border to Elan district, 8-10 million Kurdish population live there. Same thing can happen there as well. Middle East is changing; Turkey has to change its 90 years old politics of refusal and assimilation. These ideas are now being argued vastly in the media. This will inevitably affect politics too.
How do you see the KCK, the KCK structuring that is alleged to exist in the cities?
I see it as an unnecessary and false association, it is an association that appeared after Öcalan was caught and placed in İmralı. I think government has a hand in this, you already know that the existence of around 1000 MIT agents in the KCK was mentioned, this is very surprising, unbelievable. It doesn’t matter even if it were 50; it’s obvious that this has been developed as a government project to control the Kurdish movement. It is inconceivable, scandalous to prepare such an organization with the government and also arresting thousands of them. Look, there is the BDP as a legal association, it’s in the parliament and it is legal, it has municipalities, there is the PKK as an illegal association. What about this association? Moreover it is related to Karayılan who is in the charge of the armed organization. The KCK is a false association; whoever created it, didn’t create it in good faith. In my opinion, the thing to do now is to find a solution for this problem. How to find it is a different issue, I mean releasing thousands of people. But there is no need for an association like the KCK.
“Turkey is undergoing a change, even though that there will be ups and downs and it will be painful I believe that we will overcome this obstacle too. Kurdish people will become free and Turkey will be democratised, we will live together peacefully.”
Lastly, you spent a lifetime for political struggle. Does it bother you not to be able to spare enough time for literature?
Naturally when you spare this much time for politics it happens. Despite that I published nearly 10 poetry books. Some of them are in Kurdish; most of them are in Turkish. Besides that I wrote children’s books, stories, essays. Some of my books were released with several pen names, I wrote with 5-6 different names. For example I wrote as Ferhad Can, Cemali, Cemil Baran. One of my children’s books was written with the name Baran, one with Cemali. Besides my essays were released with the name Ferhad Can. I wrote on history and language. I have nearly 60 books. 43 of them are in the size of a book, others are booklets.
You touched upon very important points today. We talked about struggle, terrorism, war, destructions, destroyed hopes, hopelessness. Turkey had very hard times in the 1970s, 1980s. After the coup and destruction environment that was created in the 1980s, your poem “Hadi Gülümse” (Come on, Smile) recovered everybody’s morale; attracted a great attention as a Sezen Aksu song. When we look at the 1990s and 2000s do you still say “Hadi Gülümse”, can we smile despite of everything?
Despite of everything, of course I’m an optimist; I’ve never lost my hope. I didn’t enter politics that willingly but I do it for 50 years now. I wouldn’t be able to last it this long if I didn’t have my beliefs, hopes. Turkey is undergoing a change, even though that there will be ups and downs and it will be painful I believe that we will overcome this obstacle too. Kurdish people will become free and Turkey will be democratised, we will live together peacefully.
Mr. Burkay, thank you very much. You expressed your thoughts frankly. You’ve made some statements that will provoke different parties. I hope we can internalise democracy and learn to listen to each other more and tolerate the opposing views and stop attacking others using violence as the first solution whenever we get angry.
It was my pleasure. I wish lots of success to you, your friends, and your research centre. I heartily share your wishes and hope for a world that is peaceful for everyone, full of love, and more liveable.
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Research Turkey (May, 2013), “Interview with Mr. Kemal Burkay (2nd Part): ‘Democratic Autonomy’ is not a Well-Grounded Demand”, Vol. II, Issue 3, pp.6-18, Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey), London, Research Turkey. (http://researchturkey.org/?p=3118)