Support the Right of the Kurdish People to Self-Determination



by Katharine McGavigan, Vice-President of the SLP in Scotland.


At our recent congress of the Socialist Labour Party in Scotland, the following motion was unanimously passed:

This congress condemns the decision by a Turkish Court in June this year, to sentence Kurdish workers party leader Abdullah Ocalan to death by hanging and notes that the scale of the Turkish State’s rejection of a Kurdish identity is terrifying in its dimensions; in effect the entire Kurdish population has been criminalised. This Congress resolves to support the Kurds in their fight for human rights, an identity and a homeland.”

The Socialist Labour Party fully supports the legitimate rights of the Kurdish people to self-determination and to an independent Kurdistan. They are a nation of some 40 million people with a distinct identity and an ancient history. They are a nation oppressed by the Western imperialist powers and by the fascist Turkish regime, willing servant of the imperialist powers.

As such, as socialists in the Socialist Labour Party we are their natural allies, because we are the allies of oppressed peoples around the world. And the Kurdish cause is just. They were promised their own homeland before the war, but then had to make do with corners of Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq. Many of them have been driven from these countries into exile in the West.

Here in Britain, our New Labour government supports the Turkish regime both economically and militarily. Our government sells military equipment to the Turkish regime which will be used against the Kurds, not only in Turkey but in the military expeditions that the Turkish regime illegally makes into northern Iraq to try to wipe out the PKK resistance. We condemn this military and economic collaboration.

The Socialist Labour Party condemns the illegal kidnapping of the PKK leader Ocalan in Kenya and his hand-over to the Turkish authorities. It is known that American, Israeli, British and Turkish intelligence services were involved in the conspiracy to abduct Ocalan – an act which carried out by any other agency would immediately be labeled as a terrorist act.

But it is Ocalan who America and Britain still insist on calling a terrorist – even a brutal terrorist. How can this be, when Ocalan is so respected that his capture brought thousands of Kurdish protestors spontaneously out onto the streets across Europe on February 20


of this year? Kurds were prepared to die in their protest – a brave young Kurdish girl, Nejla Kanteper – was prepared to set fire to herself. She believed that this man represented the just cause of millions of Kurds. Later protestors demonstrating at the Israeli embassy in Germany were shot by Israeli soldiers. This is the man, revered and respected by millions of Kurds across Europe whom the imperialist powers wish to call ‘terrorist’.

Mr Ocalan is no criminal. He is a national liberation fighter against Turkish oppression and occupation of his homeland, whom Turkey has no right to try.

I don’t need to tell the Kurdish people that the real terrorists in Turkey are the Turkish regime, their NATO allies and their American financiers.

The British government recently undertook an immensely costly war allegedly to defend the democratic rights and the lives of Kosovan Albanians, to fight against ethnic cleansing. Why then can they so comfortably collaborate with the Turkish regime in its policy of ethnically cleansing the Kurdish people in Turkey?

We do not hear any high moral arguments by the British government to defend the democratic rights of the Kurdish people – only the silent guilt of conspirators to murder.

Why is Mr Bulent Ecevit not demonised as a criminal as Milosevic is?

The answer to these questions is simple. Whatever the moral rhetoric of our government it suits their imperial interests to crush the well-organised resistance movement of the Kurdistan Workers party – the PKK. The PKK constitutes a threat to the NATO alliance which provides bases for US aggression against other countries of the Middle East. It’s all down to the dirty business of blood for oil. The west wants to control the oil and enjoy the power that the oil wealth gives them.

The PKK have recently suspended their armed struggle provided that Turkey enters into meaningful negotiations with them and recognises their democratic rights. The Turkish government would do well to heed the warning of a bastion of British society,

The Times

(17.2.99), which pointed out that the campaign against the Kurds has brought disgrace on Turkey with its record of torture, indiscriminate attacks on Kurdish villages and scorched earth policy. As a result Turkey has been pilloried in the Council of Europe, denounced in the European Parliament, censured by human rights organisations and refused the chance of early application to the European Union.

If the Kurdish people continue to be denied their national rights, if the right to speak and be educated in their own language continues to be denied to them, if the right to use Kurdish in official documents or to broadcast in it continues to be denied to them, then only the Turkish government can answer for the consequences.

Finally, the Socialist Labour Party gives its fraternal and wholehearted support to the campaign to free Ocalan, to free Kurdistan. It urges all Kurds in Britain to become involved with trades- unions, to organise for a socialist society and in so doing recognise the links between oppressed peoples the world over.