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(en) Interview with Kurdish-Iraqi anarchist (Exiles in Europe)

Date Sat, 06 Mar 2010 18:36:46 +0200


Last month, the Spanish anarchist site alasbarricadas.org interviewed the anarchist kurd group of exiles Kurdistan Anarchist Forum. The full interview:---Alasbarricadas.org: Where are you based? I mean, are you living in Kurdistan or in exile or have you emigrated to other places inside Turkey or abroad? ---- KAF: We are mainly based in different countries in Europe: UK, Germany, France and Sweden. We are Kurdish but originally from Iraq not from Turkey. We all immigrated to Europe at different times but all for political reasons. Al: How did you become an anarchist? And other Kurdish anarchists? Is Kurdish anarchism old? Do you âfit intoâ any particular tendency inside anarchism [anarchist-communism, insurrectionalsm, anarchist-syndicalism, eco-anarchism, etc.]?

KAF We all came from different left organisations, for example,
communist parties that were controlled from Russia and China, and other
Bolshevik organisations. We became Anarchists the hard way, after first
being in a number of different political tendencies like:Maoist,
Stalinist, Marxist and Leninist. Our ideas and activities changed
gradually within these movements. Then when these struggles failed we
looked for a different direction. Eventually we realised that Anarchism
is the only way to achieve proper Human Liberation. This is what we mean
by we became Anarchists the hard way.

As far as we know there were no Kurdish anarchist groups, organisations
or parties, but that does not mean there were no individual Anarchists.
Do not forget that Iraqi society at the time was almost a prison for its
people, and the entire society was suppressed and oppressed by the
Regime. The only political books and information available at the time
were Communist Party ones coming out of Russia. These views, as you
know, were against anarchist ideas and full of propaganda against them.
As far as we know there were no anarchist books in Iraq except one from
Joseph Proudhon, and the reason why this was available was because Karl
Marx had rejected Proudhonâs politics, philosophy and economic ideas.

The names or terminologies for us are not very important. What is
important for us is setting up local groups within local communities and
making connections with other groups whether on a national or
international level. We are happy to have links with all types of
anarchists and anarchist groups as long as they do not intervene in our
work and struggle against this current system and its representatives
(i.e. the state and corporations). Saying that, we would say we are
closest to Anarchist Syndicalism and Anarchist Communism.

Do you support national liberation / self-determination for the Kurdish
people ? [I'm not necessarily meaning if you support the creation of the
Kurdish state]

KAF We are fighting for Social justice. We are against every type of
discrimination, sexism or racism or exploitation whatever its basis,
whether it is nationality, sexism or religions [Exportation whatever on
the ground of sexism, sexism that has its basis in sexism?]. We fight to
create an anarchist society that is free of all types of exploitation in
order for its citizens to enjoy their full rights and duties.

However, we donât support any type of state and we would not participate
in any activity whose idea was to create any type of state. But we are
in favour of breaking the centralization of the state.

What are your relationships with Turkish anarchists? Are you close to
any particular group?

KAF We have contact with one of the Turkish Anarchist Groups based in
Switzerland (KarakÃk Otonomu TÃrkiye / Isvicre ). They operate a radio
station there. We also have contact with a Kurdish Anarchist Group that
are more Anarcho-Communist.

In addition, we have contact with a group of anarchists from Jordan
(Jordanian-anarchists) and Iran (Anarchist Geography ) but in practice
we are not that close to them for different reasons.

Do you have any relation with other foreign groups [Germany, Greece,
Armenia, etc.] ?

KAF Yes, we have contacts with anarchist groups in the UK (Haringey
Solidarity Group (HSG), Germany (Anarchistisches Forum KÃln and
anarchosyndikalismus.org ) and France (CNT-AIT info). We actively work
with them.

As to the Kurdish movement, could you explain to us the present
situation in the area? Is there [cultural/ethnic/political] repression?
how hard is it?

KAF You question is not clear as to whether you mean in Iraq, Iran,
Syria or Turkey. However, if you mean the Kurdish movement in Turkey,
there are a few Kurdish organisations, but among them the PKK is the
most active and largest party. However, since their leader was arrested
their tactics and strategy have changed. Currently they have split into
4 organisations: Iraqi Kurdistan, Irani Kurdistan, Syrian Kurdistan and
Turkey Kurdistan. In each, they have their own party and Freedom
Fighters. In Turkey at the moment the PKK have stopped militant fighting
against the Turkish state, and are in a position of no war, no peace.

There is a lot to talk about in response to your question which cannot
really be answered here.


Are there any Kurdish anarchists in prison? What for? have any Kurds
become anarchist inside prison?

KAF We cannot answer this question as we do not have specific
information about this.

In Spain we know PKK, because the Basque nationalists (among other
leftists groups) have some links with them. What can you tell us of that
political organisation? How big or important is it? Is there still some
guerrilla warfare? Are there still mousiest/Maoists?

KAF We touched on this in the previous question. We believe that the PKK
is a Stalinist, Maoist and terrorist organisation that was created in
the climate of terror, suppression and oppression. The military, fascist
and racist government in Turkey pushed the situation further and further
until the announcement of the birth of a radical, popular but suicidal
organisation, the PKK. In our opinion they serve neither their cause nor
that of the working class. In fact, what they do by their actions is
give justification to the military government to damage the Kurdish
question nationally and internationally they ( PKK & Turkish Government)
have caused the destruction of so many Villages and small towns,
displacing million of people, killing so many innocent people.

The Turkish government and the PKK actually help each other. The PKK
makes the Turkish government stronger, and the working class issue much
weaker. At the same time, the way the Turkish government has tackled the
problem has made the PKK stronger - at least in some parts of Kurdistan.

These actions by both of them have made the working class and anarchist
movement in Turkey weaker and weaker.

Are there other groups apart from PKK acting against Turkish army/state
in Kurdistan?

KAF There are certainly other Kurdish Groups active against the Turkish
government but these do not use guerrilla tactics. They believe in
struggling against the government through peaceful ways. They will use
any possible kind of struggle that serves their cause but avoiding armed
struggle. We are not sure there are any groups apart from the PKK using
armed struggles against the Turkish government.

What is your relationship with other leftists groups?

KAF We do not have any relationships with other leftist groups.

What has been the influence of Iraq's war in Turkey/Kurdistan? Has
political repression risen? Has the Kurdish autonomy in Iraq [virtually
independence] improved the desire for the independence of Kurds in Turkey?

KAF The Iraq war period was probably not a good time for the PKK. During
this particular period, all the PKKâs enemies, including the USA,
Western countries, Iraqi and Kurdish main parties (PUK & PDK) and their
forces, got together and controlled the territories as they were happy
to fight the PKK if it was necessary. In fact, the PKK was surrounded by
all the forces mentioned above. At the same time Turkey was in a good
position to fight the PKK without fear from USA. America was happy to
support this dirty war and closed its eyes to it and its victims as long
as Turkey let the big powers use its land as a base for the occupation
of Iraq.

We do not think that during the Iraqi war the repression & suppression
was beyond its normal levels. This was because the PKK kept a low
profile and stopped any major operations or attacks.

The spirit for Kurdish independence in Iraq might have increased with
the setting up of Kurdish self-rule in Iraqiâs Kurdistan but did not
help or support the Kurdish question in Turkey for two reasons:

The Kurdish Self-rule in Iraqiâs Kurdistan, as before, has always been
very much in a compromised position with the Turkish government for
political, trade and economic reasons. so that they did not mind to
sacrifice all Kurdish and their cause in Turkey for their own safety and
survival.

By setting up Kurdish self-rule in Iraq it meant Iran, Syria and Turkey
became very close as there is a ethnic Kurdish minority in each of their
countries. With an alliance between the three of them the PKK became a
major enemy, and this squeezed the PKK movement in Turkey. Further,
Turkey managed to force the leaders of Kurds self- rule in Iraq to
cooperate with them in fighting against the PKK although most of the
time the Kurds would fight them alone, but with the military support of
Turkey especially By Fighter Planes.

How is the economic situation there? Is there any kind of labour
resistance / radical unionism in Kurdistan?

KAF The economic situation for Kurdish self-rule, until the war, was
very bad. But, since the collapse of Saddam Hussein it has been getting
much better. The USA have spent a lot of money there to bribe people and
also to isolate Islamic terrorist groups and the PKK as well.

After the uprising in 1991 many organisations emerged and most of them
were leftist - from womenâs movement, union, student â and they tried to
unite. In addition to this a strong worker movement emerged at the
factory level which they organise themselves. There was also very good
links between them and the unemployed organisation (Unemployed Trade
Union in Kurdistan). These groups could never overcome their leftist
influences, and their methods of struggle, organising tactics and their
strategies were exactly the same as the Bolshevik and Social Democrat
parties who were gradually getting smaller and smaller until they
completed disappeared.

You have talked about the Uprising in 1991. Could give us more
information about what have happened?

KAF To answer this question we need a brief explanation of the Iraq
situation before the Uprising in general and Kurdistan in particular.
There was no doubt that Iraq-Iran war brought a disaster on Iraqi and
Iranian people and at the same time it weakened the regime in Iraq. Both
governments in Iraq and Iran have had their motivation to go to war and
for different reasons while both of them were in a big crisis.

During the Iraq-Iran war there was a feeling that the Iraqi regime had
lost power over its own people. This was to some extent was right when
people in Iraq saw their life had got worse, things had got very
expensive and we had to wait in a long queue to get it, every day
hundreds or more dead bodies returned to the parent and relatives, the
hospital, schools, the rest of the offices, factories , companies with
many more of offices or the administration were getting empty either
because they had been called by the regime to join the military service
or because many of them refused to join the military service and had
gone underground or had been transferred to protect the streets, public
places in case of riots or uprising. In addition to this people were
very well aware of the propaganda machine about the war, aim of the war,
the future of the war that all was a pure lie.

The regime on one hand tried to bribe those families who had lost their
son, daughters, parent in the front lines of the war, on the other hand
tried to suppress and oppress any opposition voice by using a very heavy
hand.

In Kurdistan, because of the existing Kurdish movement, although it was
becoming very week and many of them had abandoned their struggles by
moving to the neighbouring countries or Europe, USA or Canada, the
regime has used a few different tactics from what he used it in south
and middle of Iraq, like: using chemical weapons, the Campaign of
Anfal(1) and moving all the far villages from the town to a
concentration camps and destroyed all the original villages and the
peopleâs belongs even their cattle, animals whatever they had in the
villages.

The situation in both parts of Iraq, south and north became intolerable
and pushed people to make complaints, small protests in different areas.

When the war finished the regime in Iraq became weaker and its crisis
was getting deeper and deeper. So Saddam Hussein tried to find a way to
get out of these crises. So the only way to get out of this was
launching another war in the gulf. Of course this happened with approval
and the support from America, CIA. The consequence of the war was
terrible as thousands and thousands of soldiers and ordinary people were
killed and made the situation unbearable.

By the time when the war ended the situation were getting ripe for
emerging so many different organisations against the regime in south,
middle and north of Iraq, particularly in north, Kurdistan. The Iraqi
forces have already evacuated in many places and have lost control over
the distance Areas from the main towns. At this time the whole Kurdish
movement became very week and was almost about abandoning its entire
army struggles.

By 1991 the time had arrived for uprising, A few months before March 91
some of the lefties organisation prepared themselves for something like,
later called Uprising by contacting most of the rest of the origination
and the individuals, collecting weapons and bringing them to the big
towns, publicity preparation and the starting points with the starting
places. In the end the uprising happened and almost whoever was able to
get out of home has taken a part in it. In a matter of a couple of days
most of the small towns and a couple of big towns had fell under the
control of people. The people had used revenges against the regime agent
and spy and people from the Intelligence organisation (Istkhbarat) in a
barbaric way by killing and executing so many of them that people
thought they had a contact with the regime and have blood on their hands
without trial, court or any thing.

When the people realised that the regimeâs force completely defeated
then the Soviets â Shuraâ(2) in the neighbourhood, school, hospital and
the rest of places of work have been set up by the workers, student, the
local people and the member of the lefties, communist organisations to
carry out the necessary work in the community. The situation was getting
serious and dangerous for the high class, the bosses because this
experience was about to spread in everywhere in Kurdistan and even in
Iraq. The US, Briton and the regions especially the neighbouring
countries have observed and examined the situation very closely and
seriously. So they tried to abort the Uprising before completely succeed
and spread in elsewhere. The first step was to revive their agents in
Kurdistan in getting close to whole organisation and fraction that
involved in Kurdish movement while at the time of uprising and before
that they almost disappeared especially in the army way. Then they
intervened directly to send their own spy and agents and give advice to
the forces that were in the opposition against the uprising because they
have already lost control and influences among people. Many of the
individuals who have already left Kurdistan went back and gradually with
the support and help of CIA and MI6 took control on almost every
administration. At the same time they created a situation and persuaded
people or at least did not mind when people had taken whatever was
valuable including most of the equipments in hospitals, schools,
universities and the rest of the governmentâs building. To stop this
disorder, they organised the police and soldiers forces. At the same
time they tried to weaken the Shuras by using various propaganda against
them, taking over their buildings, asking the organisation to register
themselves with the government and getting permission for protests,
rallies and demonstrations.

This new administration by 1992 became stable and almost was in control
everywhere with the entire support of US, Briton and Europe. There was
the first election in May 1992 for Kurdish self-rule parliament. The
election was fake and both major originations PUK (Kurdish united
patriotic) and KDP (Kurdish Democratic Party) between themselves decided
they won the election by 50% each of them and they set up their own
government. By 1994 when the Kurdish self-rule was completely
established with the support of west and USA, the Shuras had been
disappeared and the trace of Uprising you could only find in the history
museum. And now it was the time for the internal war between PUK and PDK
over money, power and influences. This war lasted until 1998 and ended
under the threat of USA.

Of course there was another factor for defeating the peopleâs movement
and its Uprising. The threat of the leftyâs organisation to the Shuras
was no less danger than the USA & the rest as they used this threat in a
different way. The struggles between themselves to control the peopleâs
movement and its achievement, the Shura, were a great threat and badly
damaged the movement by making it very week. They all were happy to
sacrifice the Uprising to their politics.

(1) Anfal: It was a campaign was launched by the government against
Kurdish people in 198os (the first Anfal was in 1982 and second Anfal
was 1988) in this campaign the regime evacuated the entire people for
the far villages, the number estimated by 180,000 people who are
completely disappeared.

(2) â Shuraâ Soviets, The Council of the worker

What is your opinion on the so-called revolt in Iran? Is it possible
that from that reformistâs fighter could arise a solid anarchist faction?

It might not be realistic for us to be so optimistic to expect from
current revolt a solid Anarchist movement will be emerged. But before we
are coming to that conclusion we need to remind ourselves that the CIA
and the West brought Ayatollah Khomeini and his party to power in a
reluctant way. We say in a reluctant way because almost everybody in
Iran was involved in the Uprising, therefore USA and the West was
between couples of choices: Ayatollah Khomeini or peopleâs power. In
other words between a minor enemy and a major enemy, so they have gone
for the minor enemy. In the same time they thought it will be easy to
control the Mullahs' power or tame them especially after involving Iran
in a long war with Iraq. They knew that the war given them a great
benefits and advantage as first the war is the best weapons to defeat
the powerful resistance that had existed there before the uprising.
Secondly the war makes both regimes in Iran and Iraq very week and
through this they can play a big role in controlling the situation and
finally bringing back the USA & the West forces, their politics into the
region, in addition to achieve financial gain .

And now 30 years is too long and USA could not have big influences over
the regime to achieve what they wanted in the first place. In the same
time people have had enough with the regime. Peopleâs life in respect of
freedom, economic has not got better and certainly their Social life has
got worse, this is apart form that almost every family in Iran lost one
of its beloved during the long war between Iran and Iraq that lasted for
8 years.

This situation is getting worse day by day and people lives in a big
fair there when they hear that the so called â international communityâ
using sanction against them or the idiot regime may involve them in
another long war.

We can say that the people were looking for some sort of crisis that can
be happened and opens a door for them to protest against the regime. We
believe that the election was a perfect pretext for people especially
when some powerful people with the support of USA and some countries in
the west could be seen supporting the protest. However, the protest has
become very bloody but surely no everybody is on the side of the âGreen
revolutionâ. As we said above the majority of people in Iran have been
fed up with the regime and the situation and they want changes. The
demonstration and the protest were emerged from every section of the
Society. We believe the vast majority of the protests are nothing to do
with Mossawi or his supporters, but while the regime is very brutal as
we saw it in oppressing the protester, it was difficult for people to
come up independently and in obvious way demanding the regime change.
They need to express there unsatisfaction and their hatter against the
system through or under umbrella of the powerful people that who are a
part of the System because of a couple of reasons: 1- if they came out
without connecting themselves to the main stream of the protester they
would have been faced a savage, brutal; suppression that cause so many
death. 2- Again if they came out as independent groups there was a
possibility for Moussawi and the rest of the powerful people who
supported the protest to reconcile with the government. This could be
happened because both of them, the government and the opposition, would
face a very serious danger that threats the entire regime and their
politics.

However, we think the protest will be continuing, stronger and goes
forward that may some major changes take place by the end of the year.
We are aware of that the Anarchist movement in Iran is strong but we are
not sure whether they can organise themselves against the authoritarian,
the power to achieve what they have been struggled for in the past and
also whether they have got a lesion from the past.

We have noticed that some Kurdish Social movements are more and more fed
up with those Maoists parties, leftist political groups and their
practices and they are being progressively substituted by an anarchist/
grassroots practice. Is this affirmation?

That is true. People are fed up with them and from their experience they
realised that these originations have already bankrupted but as we
mentioned in our answers to your previous questions we have not seen the
Anarchists movement neither in Kurdistan nor in Iraq. While everybody is
fed up and wants changes, a huge number of the population has organised
themselves in the movement called âChanges, movement for changesâ. This
has not yet formed it selves in the party or a proper organisation yet.
They are not really different from the old organisation or the current
one that is leading the Kurdish Self-rule. We believe that this like the
many before will be a failure experience as well.

Whether later on people substituted by anarchist/ grassroots practice?
It is difficult to be optimistic about this. But we are very much sure
the grassroots movement in the nearest future will organise themselves
and may form some Anarchist or libertarian origination. Please refer to
our answer to your previous question for as to why we believe there is a
ground for emerging Anarchist movement.

Do you think anarchists ideas can develop well in Kurdistan? Are there
some communitarian traditions similar to the anarchist practice? [In
some places this situation happens; Kropotkin put it well in Mutual Aid]

KAF We definitely believe anarchist ideas could develop in Kurdistan. It
is not just that we believe in anarchism. Anarchism is the right
struggle and will be a very strong movement in the near future because:
All the old ways of struggles from guerrilla war, to sham voting, to
relying on the various kinds of leftist organisations from PUK, KDP,
Communist party, all Islamic groups, liberals and Communist Worker Party
have all been shown to be bankrupt and cannot escape from complete
defeat as they lose the confidence and trust amongst poor and ordinary
people.

There are many, many basic rights that have already been won in the
Western, US, Canada and Scandinavian, but in Iraq or Kurdistan these
basics are still a main or daily demand among the ordinary people. Again
the corruption that infected every level of administration from the
bottom of society to the very top (like Parliament) has recently become
a major issue and has become the top priority of the list of demands
that people are struggling for.

The relationship between individual people within the community is still
extremely strong and this makes it very easy to trust each other and
have collective action or struggles.

Final words...

KAF We are trying to do our best to write on different Kurdish websites
to persuade people of our politics, going to Kurdish Seminars, and
translating old Anarchist texts and articles. We are also making people
there aware of what is going on in the rest of the world.
_________________________________________
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