Abdullah Öcalan - The Life Work of a “Liberator”...

About a year ago on June 29, 1999, the leader of the Workers Party of Kurdistan (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, was condemned to death for treason and separatism by the Turkish state on his island prison of Imrali, on the Marmara Sea. Since then, ostensibly under the pressures of the European Human Rights Tribunal, the threat to the life of the man also known as Apo seems to have passed for now. In fact, having prostrated himself in front of the alter of Turkish national reconciliation all through the trial, and having spat his venom on his disciples of yesterday (1), who want to continue the struggle, a living Öcalan does not represent a danger to the territorial integrity of the Turkish state, but, rather, a trump card... Aware that they can obtain all the renunciations and compromises they desire from the ex-supreme leader of Kurdistan, the Turkish authorities have had the sense to suspend the execution of the sentence indefinitely.

Thus seems to end, in a large measure, the bloody military adventure launched by the PKK in 1984, which aimed to create an independent Kurdish state. This war has killed more or less 30,000 people to date, and more than 3,000 Kurdish villages have been destroyed. The effect of all this devastation will have only tragically increased the very real oppression suffered by the great majority of the Kurdish people at the hands of the Turkish state. Meanwhile, the nationalist leader has become an overt Kemalite (2) now only claiming the maintenance of the limited recognition of Kurdish linguistic rights already granted by the Turkish state 10 years ago. Repudiating the third world Stalinist he was, Öcalan keeps on jumping the hurdles of an incredible political steeplechase in his mad dash to justify his physical and historical survival. From Kurdish nationalism to Great Turkish nationalism, from atheism to Islam, from “socialism” to sucking up to bourgeois democracy, he continues to follow under each new guise the counterrevolutionary path that he has always taken.

In fact, the war of fratricide launched by the PKK and its “national liberation” struggle has never been revolutionary. The revolutionary movement is fundamentaly internationalist. It rejects all ideologies undermining class solidarity through the promotion of cultural, national, or ethnic differences. It promotes a unified class struggle by workers of all origins. The possibility of such a unified struggle was in fact eloquently demonstrated during the powerful strike of 48,000 coal miners in Zonguldak on the Black Sea in 1991. This struggle was supported by solidarity strikes in Eastern Anatolia with a majority Kurdish population as well as in the rest of Turkey. It is to be noted that one of the main demands of this strike was seemingly to support the right of Kurdish workers to use their own language.

Though still in prison, Öcalan's ideas and practice continue to kill. From the depths of his cell, he still keeps tight control over the activities of the PKK of which he is still the undisputed boss (despite the manoeuvres of his brother Osman). Thus while pleading for his own life and for peace, the peace he imposes on the training camps of his organization is the peace of the graveyard... For example, more than 300 Kurdish nationalist militants have been executed by the political police of the PKK in 1999 alone. How many others have perished since then? The life work of Abdullah Öcalan as those of the other so-called nationalist “liberators” of the 20th century will have been to sow division and hate between workers and to have dramatically delayed the unavoidable class confrontation for the emancipation of all humanity. Despite the indignant shouts of the different varieties of their leftist supporters, we maintain that the working class must spit out the nationalist poison or our rulers. The life of Abdullah Öcalan, has been the life of a butcher.

(1) A small group of 150 people have quit the organization to continue the armed struggle. This group will now have to confront the mighty Turkish State as well as the largely diminished forces of their ex-comrades in the PKK.

(2) Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938), the father of the modern Turkish republic.