A time for us to follow on their footsteps…

Palestine, Kurdistan and the martyrs of May

The Kurdistan Freedom Movement honours fallen comrades by never forgetting their legacy and fighting in their names for the world we want to live in. Today, 18th May, marks the anniversary of the martyrdom of several internationalist comrades: Deniz Gezmis, Haki Karer and Ibrahim Kaypakkaya. We remember them for the influence they had on the founding members of our movement. We remember with added revolutionary meaning as thousands of Palestinians are on a general strike against Israeli-state apartheid. 

All three of these revolutionaries were of Turkish origin but each took their place in the internationalist struggle for socialism and a free life everywhere. They recognised that the freedom of the Turkish people was inextricably tied to the freedom of Kurds, Armenians and all other colonised nations that had been scooped up with the founding of the Turkish state in 1923.

Our struggle is their struggle

With the attacks on the Palestinian people, both in the occupied West Bank and Gaza over the last week, we see that the time to remember these revolutionaries and how they centred internationalism as part of their own struggles couldn’t be a better reminder for what we need to do in our own contexts, living in this current period of late stage capitalism. There is a need to see how all of our struggles are connected and how in everything we do we must remember to centre our end goal: total liberation – for all people – everywhere.

Right now, Palestine needs our support and solidarity. Many revolutionary groups in the UK have a focus, an issue which they are struggling for, or an aspect of capitalism that they are fighting against. In each case a connection can be found with the Palestinian struggle, expanding the horizons of these campaigns and showing there are often common oppressive forces. 

Global companies are essential to maintaining apartheid in Palestine; for example G4S used to provide services to prisons that detain Palestinians for unspecified periods of time in appalling conditions. G4S was forced to sell its Israeli business as a result of years of struggle by the internationalist supporters of the Palestinian struggle, although since then the company has provided training to the Israeli police. Globally, G4S is involved with the prison industrial complex in both the UK and North America, as well as the detention and deportation of migrants across Europe. It is are the third largest private employer in the world. Why and how did a security company become so big that they are the largest employer of Europeans and Africans on this planet? What is the threat they are guarding against? 

As the companies that are propping up the capitalist endeavour operate globally, we as revolutionaries must also operate globally and strengthen each other’s struggle wherever possible. In the case of the Kurdistan Freedom Movement, collaboration with the Palestinian struggle is not unprecedented. In the early 1980’s many of the first PKK guerilla were trained in the Bekka Valley in Lebanon by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The First Intifada centred women’s liberation in the same way that our movement does now and shared many of the core values that we hold today. 

Both Netanyahu and Erdogan are in weaker political positions than we have seen in a long time. However both will do anything to hold onto power and both have a population they can demonise in order to gain popularity and show themselves as strong leaders to the nationalists and far-right in their respective countries. 

The nation-state paradigm vs democratic society

The timing of the current attacks on Gaza and the occupied West Bank could not have been better for Netanyahu; the fragile alliance of Israeli and Palestinian politicians that constituted his main opposition after the last election has disintegrated in the latest wave of violence. This means there is a strong chance that he will once again have the opportunity to form a government after the next election (the fifth in the last two years). 

There is a Kurdish saying in Turkey that when the Lira drops in value, Kurdish blood flows. Turkey has been in a period of economic crisis and stagnation under the ruling AKP party for several years now, and the war between Turkish State forces and the Kurdish minority population reaches a level not seen since the 1990s. Now, as the Coronavirus pandemic ravages further Turkey’s tourism driven economy, the state of democracy and the status of minorities within the Turkish nation-state border continue to deteriorate. 

In the last few years, Erdogan has imprisoned more leaders of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) than ever before, instigated ongoing sustained attacks on the guerilla forces in the mountains of South Kurdistan (north Iraq), apparently now also seeking to settle those areas, and dramatically halting water flow into the Kurdish regions of both Syria and Iraq, leading to an impending humanitarian catastrophe. Through these attacks on democratic influences in Israel and Turkey, the goal of maintaining power is achieved and dictatorship can be maintained in both countries.

On the 15th May we saw the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu deliver a speech in which he stated that ‘Turkey would always support its Palestinian brothers and sisters’, disguising the reality that the Turkish state is one of the largest importers of Isreali arms. During the last invasion of Rojava, similar noises were made in Tel Aviv in support of the Kurdish struggle. Both of these statements reflect the empty words of puppet nations of the imperial core and their attempts to divided and rule the Middle East.

If revolutionary people in Kurdistan and Palestine can be pitted against one another through such statements, we will never see collaboration like that which happened in the Bekka Valley in the 1980’s and our movements will be weaker for this. Divide and rule is a classic tactic of imperialism and it should not be allowed to harm our common struggle.

We therefore end this statement remembering our fallen comrades and by saluting the Palestinian struggle.

Long live internationalism! Long live the struggle in Palestine! 

Kurdistan Solidarity Network

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