This interview was conducted by ANF, on November 5th 2014
Following your meeting with Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Ocalan in Imrali, did you as a committee meet with the government? If not, have you requested a meeting?
We have not yet had a meeting with the state committee or the government committee. Following our last meeting with Mr. Ocalan (which was on October 21st 2014) meetings have stopped because of the polemical arguments that have occurred.
This is in relation to the Imrali meetings also isn’t it?
Yes. We always meet with the state and the government committees before our visits to Imrali. Following our last meeting with Mr. Ocalan we are yet to meet with these committees and now there have been these arguments. For this reason, we have to meet with either the state or the government committee before going to Imrali. But these haven’t taken place yet.
So how do you assess these meetings not taking place? These developments seem out of the ordinary for us. What do you think is happening?
Yes, we are in the midst of an extra-ordinary process. The events of October 6-7 and before that the government’s statements, stance and foreign policy regarding Kobane, and the developments in Kobane, upset the government. The people’s support for Kobane and the fact that Kobane hasn’t fallen has hurt the government. Due to this they have made statements targeting and scapegoating the HDP, and have now turned it into a lynch campaign. We can safely say there has been a change in the AKP government’s approach.
How do you view this change?
I can summarise it as follows: Our request was that Mr. Ocalan’s conditions be changed and the negotiation process be started immediately. It has been almost 18 months since the dialogue process began and now it is over, so it was time that the negotiation stage of the process begin; together with this we also had some other requests. One of these is Mr. Ocalan’s request for a secretariat. We shared this urgent request with the public as well. Together with this we wanted a Monitoring Committee, a third eye, or a committee to referee the process, furthermore we requested that the (HDP’s) democratic debate/negotiation committee be enlarged.
The negative approach and statements of the government after we made these requests known to public opinion signalled that the process had been stopped.
Therefore what we can see now is that the government has suspended the process and is continuing it’s polemical approach. All of us are experiencing the results of this. The knife attack (On 4th October 2014) against our Party Assembly member Mr. Ahmet Karatas is a result of this approach. The rhetoric, tone and attitude of the government is not right. So it is correct to say that the resolution process has been suspended. Furthermore we do not know when this suspension will end.
The government has suspended the situation. Is your decision (as a committee) to continue the process?
As the HDP debate/negotiation committee, we have always emphasised the importance and continuation of the resolution process and that it should evolve into a stage of negotiation between the two parties. We are still adamant on this because we see the need for societal peace.
You said that the attitude of the government changed following the Kobane demonstrations. Is the core of the issue really the Kobane demonstrations?
Actually, it’s not just Kobane. Unfortunately, we can see that the government has not involved itself in the peace and negotiation project wholeheartedly. We can say this because there have not been any concrete steps taken in the process since its inception. From the beginning, there have been active forces that want to sabotage, obstruct and stall the process. They are still active today. This is why from the beginning we asked for Mr. Ocalan’s communication channels to be extended, for him to be given the opportunity to meet with not just us as a political committee, but also for other committees to visit Imrali island prison; we requested a monitoring committee be formed urgently. If these things had been done from the beginning we could have been at a different juncture today. However the government chose to stall, postpone and gain time instead of taking these steps. Since the beginning of the process we have had two elections, now we are approaching a third one. But I don’t think the government will be able to get through this one as easily as they did with the previous two. The government only has a single branch to hold on to and that is the resolution process. I believe that if they show a positive attitude and take practical concrete steps the resolution process will develop very quickly and turn into a peace process. The only thing the government has done in the past 18 months has been to pass the framework legislation in parliament. Beyond this there have been no practical steps and this is what has created the current deadlock.
Was the issue of a secretariat (for Ocalan) discussed between Ocalan and the state or between you and the state or government?
We brought the request for a secretariat onto the agenda in our final meeting with the state committee. The state committee had given us positive signals regarding this. However, when negative things began happening this request was used as an excuse (to suspend talks).
You say ‘the state committee gave us positive signals’ regarding the secretariat, but then there are the (negative) statements made by the government about this. What is the problem here?
We know that there are intense debates between the state committee and Mr. Ocalan. I must emphasise that there is no disparity between Mr. Ocalan and the state committee. The real political will here belongs to the government. Therefore, I am assuming that there is a disagreement between the government and state. We found out about this road map in the meeting we had with the state committee. We were not shown any document nor given any information about this in our meeting with the government committee. There are signs that the government and state cannot agree on certain issues. There is a great chasm between the meetings we have with the state committee and the government committee. Because neither Mr. Ocalan nor us is the reason for this chasm we can assume that it is a disagreement between the state and government.
Do you think the government will take steps in the near future in regards to the secretariat?
Looking at the current statements made by the government there are no signs of this happening. We will wait today because yesterday the Cabinet of Ministers convened. If we don’t receive any positive signals about the continuation of the process then we will have to convene as a committee or as a party and re-evaluate the matter. If this happens we may need to have another press conference because we should have visited Imrali already. In our last meeting we were given the signal that the negotiation process would begin within a week. It has been ten days since then. Every day, ever hour, every minute that passes is working against us. Attacks against us have intensified. So the government needs to assess all of this in the right manner. There are not any positive messages from the government about the secretariat but we will continue requesting this. It is a prerequisite if we are to pass onto the negotiation phase.
In these conditions, how much longer do you think Abdullah Ocalan is going to stay resolute for peace? Is Abdullah Ocalan at the end of his tether? What is your observation?
I would like to state this unequivocally: At the beginning of the process, we experienced the murder of Sakine (and her two comrades assassinated in Paris, 9th January 2013). It was a time when we as a movement were shaken. We lost three of our friends when this process began. It was a vilely committed massacre. Despite this the process was continued. This is why I believe Mr. Ocalan will appraise even a glimmer of hope. Furthermore, I know Mr. Ocalan is adamant on continuing and developing this process. But I want also to emphasise that the government need to change their attitude accordingly. Mr. Ocalan is very determined, very strong-willed. Not just Turkey, the whole of the Middle East is being redesigned and it is impossible to disregard, ignore or deny the Kurds a place in this new design. So, Mr. Ocalan is viewing things from a very comprehensive perspective and assessing it accordingly. I hope the government comprehend what Mr. Ocalan is saying and read him well. If the process is terminated it will not be Mr. Ocalan who does this.
There are comments that the government wants to terminate the process but doesn’t want to be the party to say “It’s over” and this is why they are trying to provoke the HDP and Kurdish Movement into saying this. Do you agree with these comments?
Even though the government is saying, “We want to continue the process,” they are not acting in accordance with this. I believe that the process will not end. At the least, I know Mr. Ocalan doesn’t believe it will. From now on everything depends on the approach and steps taken by the government. We need a few days. Within a few days, the government will also clarify its position. These days will also be important for us. We are following developments closely. The moment we receive a sign regarding meeting or that the process has resumed we will resume meetings with the government and request to meet with Mr. Ocalan.
You are proposing the formation of a monitoring committee. Is there an initiative regarding this?
We requested that a Monitoring Committee be formed when the resolution process began. Soon after due to our request the ‘Wise Persons Committee’ was formed. But we think that the Monitoring Committee needs to be different, it needs to be formed of individuals who are amongst the people, individuals who can direct the peace process, who have sympathy from the masses and people who have internalised peace. We don’t need many people for this, 15-16 people from varying backgrounds will be sufficient. We believe that a Monitoring Committee formed of intellectuals, writers, artists, civil society organisations and democratic people’s organisations that represent the different groups in Turkey will have a very positive impact on the process. For this reason we have prepared a list of names to be a part of this committee. We have shared this list with Mr. Ocalan and (KCK representatives) in Qandil. We also shared this list with the state committee. However there has not been any development in relation to this. We are still calling on the government to form this committee immediately. These individuals need to have internalised peace. They need to have the capacity to intervene in times of chaos and be able to make appeals to the AKP or to the KCK when necessary. The reason for this is that the process going forward is maybe open to even more provocation and sabotage.
Translated from Turkish original