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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL - Dossier Kurdistan: What really changed PKK by William Davranche (fr, pt) [machine translation]

Date Sun, 23 Nov 2014 11:10:36 +0200

Kurdish left has evolved in the last decade. If the PKK (officially renamed Kongra-Gel in 2003) is its center of gravity, with an authoritarian structure, self-management trends have emerged, including its satellite organizations. An ambivalent position but full of potential. ---- Demonstration in the Cizîrê in support of Kobanê (October 2014) ---- For years, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has suffered a very sad picture: authoritarian, bloody, practicing worship leader ... Just he was recognized its role in the emancipation of women in the guerrillas. However, today it appears as a center of resistance to jihadism, eyes on him to change speed. ---- We have seen in the media, more openly friendly reports, including its units of female fighters. And on the Web circulate a little sensational texts announcing a "new PKK" become almost self-management and even "eco-anarchist" by aligning its leader Abdullah Ocalan in prison converted to libertarian ideas of Murray Bookchin. This is certainly the view taken by some anarchist intellectuals Anglo-Saxon as Janet Biehl, Rafael Taylor, and David Graeber (1).

Without follow in a somewhat idyllic vision, we must recognize that the PKK has evolved. This party has experienced several periods:

the training period, from 1978 to 1984, during which the PKK was a separatist party and Marxist-Leninist collective leadership, soon repressed and forced into exile;
the period of armed struggle from 1984 to 1999, was that of the mutation in a powerful and hierarchical guerrillas. Harassed by the ruthless suppression of the Turkish army, the PKK then known sectarian drift has resulted in the establishment of a cult of the leader, Abdullah Ocalan (Apo said, "Uncle"), a iron control over its members, and particularly violent internal practices: self-criticism and public contrition, execution of dissidents, etc. (2);
the latency period from 1999 to 2003, saw the PKK, distraught by the arrest of Öcalan, call for a cease-fire;
the current period, since 2003, is one of a repositioning of the PKK, which officially renounced Leninism and waived establish a nation-state to claim a confederal autonomy of Kurdistan over the existing state borders. Today, several trends coexist within the party, from the nationalist (rather marginal) the Social Democrats, to the faithful of Maoism and a mosaic of sensitivities.

The role of Ocalan

Abdullah Öcalan weighs as he can in this evolution. In the 1990s, he criticized the nation-state and tried to set a new theoretical framework for the "Kurdish question". His ideas have matured since his incarceration. In War and Peace in Kurdistan (2009), then in Democratic Confederalism (2011), he advocated a "democracy without a state," patriarchy, secular, federalist, based on the popular advice and socialization of the economy. In short, an anarchist program, unexpected from his pen. He even regretted that the PKK has resulted in a "hierarchical structure similar to that of the United States" and recommended to elected officials and Kurdish political cadres to read certain works of Murray Bookchin, Urbanization as sans Cities: The Rise and Decline of Citizenship (3).

Mesopotamian Social Forum

This evolution Öcalan probably influenced the PKK, but mostly its "legal windows", the HDP and DBP. It has been observed in September 2009, during the Mesopotamian Social Forum in Diyarbakir (Turkish Kurdistan). During the plenary session "Managing the city," local officials of the party had followed with keen interest the presentation of the Zapatista delegate on local self-government in Chiapas. It was at the time of the creation of autonomous municipalities attempt nipped in the bud by the Turkish army.
More recently, in the August 2014 presidential election, the HDP has emerged as the new hub of the Turkish alternative left his candidate, Selahattin Demirtas, having received the support of various socialist organizations, feminists, environmentalists and LGBTI. He received 9.8% of the vote, mostly in Kurdistan (4).

What all this has not challenged, the PKK leader role, nor its militarized and hierarchical structure.

Today, the Kurdish left is crossed by this ambivalence: in the center of the game, a military party guide; at his side, a civil movement with real self-management trends; and, hovering above all, the father figure of Abdullah Ocalan. This trend carries potential ... provided that the civil movement wins a clear supremacy over the military leadership. There fifty years, Algeria had the bitter experience of military leadership FLN engulfing then confiscating the revolution to its advantage, despite the self-management tendencies of early independence.

It is therefore far today, the Zapatista formula that "people control". This does not preclude the democratic autonomy Rojava be, writes David Graeber, "one of the few bright spots - and even very light - from the tragedy of the Syrian revolution." More than ever, the left is a Kurdish political laboratory of primary importance for the entire Middle East.

William Davranche

1. See the articles "Bookchin, Öcalan, and the Dialectics of Democracy" on New-compass.net; "The new PKK: Unleashing a social revolution in Kurdistan" on Roarma.org; "Why is the world ignoring the revolutionary Kurds in Syria? "Theguardian.com on.
2. Ocalan at his trial, he himself mentioned 15,000 17 000 dead in 'gangland' internal to the PKK or clashes with other organizations. These bloody practices have become extinct in the 2000s.
3. Black Rose Press, 1992 Testimony of Janet Biehl, a widow
Bookchin, in February 2012 (on New-compass.net).
4. Read "The AKP, a colossus with feet of clay" in Alternative libertarian September 2014.

Related Link: http://www.alternativelibertaire.org/?Dossier-Kurdistan-Oui-le-peuple
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