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    An open letter to ‘THE GUARDIAN’ from Abdullah Öcalan

    On Thursday 5 December 2013, The Guardian published an editorial article on the occasion of Nelson Mandela’s death.

    On Thursday 5 December 2013, The Guardian published an editorial
    article on the occasion of Nelson Mandela’s death. The article
    included a significant(!) comparison between Mandela and some other
    names like Jawaharlal Nehru, Aung Sang Suu Kyi, and me.  As long as
    they approach the issue with a hegemon’s mindset, the potentates will
    certainly continue to make such comparisons among those figures wining
    the affection of their peoples. However, any comparison has its own
    inner problems.
         The time of the struggles, varying geographic and political
    conditions and even the characteristic differences between the figures
    will render such comparisons problematic. First of all, for me, being
    remembered together with a leader for whom all the world shed tears
    shows the extent to which our struggle line has taken universal
    dimensions. It also demonstrates the fact that our case couldn’t be
    explained as a struggle only against an unjust treatment.
          Writing on the capabilities of a leader with exemplary methods
    of struggle and negotiation just after his death needs some more
    pondering on the history and politics of risk-takers, in order to get
    a better understanding of the conditions of those who haven’t been
    afraid of struggling in the front line throughout history.
          There are clear-cut differences between the front-line
    strugglers and deskbound analysts. The greatest difference is to
    witness the death of your comrades and your people, live the
    experience moment to moment, and do right and wrong.  Restricting the
    esteem and dignity of such an important leader with ‘the prison’ is a
    beleaguered approach which holds in contempt the self-realized
    political struggle of a people with over 40 million population
    voluntarily approving this leader as the representation of their own
    will.  How objective and just would it be to turn a blind eye on the
    national identity the Kurdish people have achieved after a
    40-year-long freedom struggle, and on our peace efforts for a
    democratic solution to the Kurdish question.
          Comparing me with Nelson Mandela in your article, you had
    referred to me as “feared and worshiped”. Here, not only can I see
    more easily the writer’s desire to be the state chronicle of a history
    which tramples on the world’s oppressed, but also I discern the codes
    of the purposive enmity harbored against both of the compared figures,
    whose only resource for facing the enslaving, massacre and denial
    policies are their own self-belief.
          It is too evident to need proof that a person who has spent the
    last 14 years of his life in a prison-island alone and under solitary
    confinement can be a “source of fear” only for those who have put him
    into chains. The chains speak for themselves ….
         In reply to those who, instead of analyzing the fear spread by
    the hegemons, are busy giving advice and teaching lessons to those
    struggling against these hegemons, I should say, in all modesty, that
    Dear Madiba and me have more parallels than contrasts.
         Everybody knows that the ordeal succeeded in facing the Apartheid
    regime was an accomplishment of not only the South African people, but
    at the same time of the leader in whom they had unsuspectedly confided
    their fate.  No matter their numbers, the many ludicrous comments made
    on Mandela’s credibility come from the quarters which  adopt a remote
    and trivial approach to the ‘struggle of the oppressed’ rather than
    making a close and reasonable analysis.
         The self-organization processes of the communities subjected to
    suppression and discrimination would differ from the common practices,
    especially when they begin to make a true analysis of the notion of
    capitalist modernity. Traditionally, the organizational options of
    ‘the book’ are already known. But time proceeds forward and
    circumstances change, in company with historical determinism. Changing
    conditions will bring about changes in the behavior and attitude of
    individuals and organizations, either captive or free. When it comes
    to the PKK, instead of bringing about pragmatic progress, these
    changes have led to the political and ethical progress for a movement
    which has transformed itself on the basis of the struggle for
    democratic modernity and the developing direct democracy examples in
    the world.
        The 12 september 1980 fascist coup followed by many organized
    coups against our community as well as the international conspiracy
    act against me and our movement share one thing in common with other
    interferences in other struggles of the oppressed; and that is the
    silence of the international community in the face of these
    interventions.  Despite the progress in the international democratic
    standards in the 21st century, due to the state propaganda
    characteristic of the international conspiracy, the dehumanization of
    the struggling leaders held captive still continues, based on poor
    intellectual standards.
         How odd it is that a credible newspaper in Britain has not
    noticed the recent democratization progresses that we have made in
    Mesopotamia. As far as the approach is concerned, I hope it to be only
    ‘odd’, not more. Looking at the general approach of the article, what
    I see is not only the “oddness”; rather, every line is a dead giveaway
    to a hierarchic and ‘from above’ viewpoint.
         Here, those opposing peace are accusing us of starting
    negotiations, are dehumanizing me in the eyes of the new generations
    and defaming our movement which has adopted peace and settlement as
    its main principle.  They are running and organized activity to
    blacken the reputation of our efforts for democratic modernity.  How
    odd it is that racist notions and old propaganda rhetoric which have
    even lost their reputation in Turkey are still being repeatedly
    covered in the international press.
         The only topic to be discussed after Mandel’s demise should be
    the Apartheid, a regime which history would remember only with shame.
    Nobody would keep a memoir of Apartheid and its leaders; nobody would
    shed tears for them; whereas Mandela has become a shining star for the
    peoples of Africa.  Our historical mission is to ensure the ever
    brilliance of this star for the peoples of the Middle East. The
    friendship developed on the basis of principled and political
    integrity between the peoples’ movements and particularly our
    movement, relies on the changing dynamics and the horizontal nature of
    their policies.  To believe that these laws of goodwill and friendship
    have been developed on the basis of fear can only be explained by
    having no knowledge about the metamorphosis eras the Kurdish political
    movement has undergone and failing to observe its democratic inner
    reflections of the peaceful and negotiating perspective of this
    movement.
         Likewise, negotiation and struggle are both important processes
    in determining the future of peoples’ movements and those leading
    these processes are figures winning the confidence of the peoples, not
    ‘feared’ ones. If not so, it wouldn’t be possible for these movements
    to be represented both in the parliamentary system and the local
    politics , as it wouldn’t have been possible to succeed in the
    years-long armed struggle.
          My recommendation to the editorial board of The Guardian is to
    do more research and analysis on the role of the women in our
    political movement and the resulting transformative effects. Then,
    they would certainly encounter such an infinite experience so as to
    take off their colonialist hat, though ashamedly.
     
    Abdullah Ocalan
    The Prison Island of Imrali


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