By Sheri Laizer

Cemil Bayik was born in Elazig, north Kurdistan in 1955, the eldest of four
children. A brilliant student, he was sent on a state scholarship to study at
Teacher Training College in Malatya and then continued on to university in
Ankara. It was there that he became acquainted with a Turkish classmate,
Kemal Pir, who later introduced him to Abdullah Ocalan. The three became
friends whose political choices would change each other’s lives for ever. Like
Ocalan, Bayik was also the victim of an assassination attempt-just days before
the latest Turkish elections on December 24, 1995.

ON BEING A KURD

To become a Kurd is to throw yourself into the fire – economically, mentally,
physically. Once it was considered shameful to be Kurdish; it meant you were
not a full human being. For example, as a younger man and writer, Yasar
Kemal saw there was no life, no future as a Kurd (Kemal achieved success
and fame in exchange for forsaking his identity), but no sooner had he
denounced the dirty war going on in Turkey than he lost everything -his
fame and his name. Compare this with the predicament of any ordinary Kurd
and ask what Turkish democracy means to him. It is terrorism that is being
practiced against him.

THE ROLE OF WOMEN

We say that it is the women who have allowed us to carry on our struggle so
long. Without them fighting at our side it would have been much harder. It
is also the women who are both the source of our Kurdish-ness and of our
humanity. Man have lost half of both. Sometimes I say this at meetings and
the women applaud. But it is a fact. Because of this, they are successful.
Because they are closer to people, their humanity is stronger; deriving from
the lives they lead, quick to feel both pain and compassion, quick to respond.
Their sensitivity is the source of life.

THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT’S ASSASSINATION CAMPAIGN

As part of their pre-election campaign, that department of the regime
responsible for organizing the special war against Kurdistan also directed
special operations against the PKK’s leadership. They publicized this during
the campaign itself : there were to be attempts at our abduction as well as our
assassination, whether they brought us in dead or alive. Their strategies were
centered around this at the election rallies, but they were unsuccessful. The
Special War Team (Ozel Savas Ekibi) included Prime Minister Tansu Ciller,
Unal Erkan (The former Emergency Region “Super” Governor), Mehmet
Agar (former police chief), Necdet Menzir and their close allies. I was in Arbil
when the assassination attempt against me was made, just one week before
the elections. A package containing enough plastic explosive to topple a
multi-storey building, attached to a timing device which had been concealed
near the wall of the building in which I was staying. When the bomb was
discovered, there was only one hour left to blast-off. In the recent
assassination attempt against Abdullah Ocalan in May of this year, we were
aware of the possibility but not the timing. The Turkish regime had published
a target list last year in which they deliberately mixed up the upper levels of
the PKK’s leadership with the lower as a trick to confuse people. They would
list someone who held no position whatsoever as one of the top level leaders.

ANOTHER CYPRUS

The Turkish Government is very active in south Kurdistan. The census
figures for Turkomans are deliberately boosted by the Turkish Red Crescent
which operates there. They take them to be brain washed for special training
in death squads (infazlar) in order to carry out disruptive activities back in the
south. The situation is very dangerous. A number of prominent personnel
from MIT are logged in the south in the offices of the Red Crescent, as well as
enjoying the protection of the two main parties. These include the General
Staff (whose most effective and active officer in planning is under special
protection in Salahaddin). These people even play a role on some local
committees. After the war between ourselves and the KDP in 1995, some of
these agents from MIT were allowed to interrogate our prisoners. If the local
parties allow the region to be turned into another Cyprus they’ll realize what
they’ve done.

ISRAEL-TURKEY AGREEMENT

This new agreement is clearly extensive and has implications for the entire
Middle East as well as upon the Kurdish movement. It is an attempt to create
a new bloc in the region. The influence extends far beyond the region itself
and will also be reflected in Europe. It would seem that France and Germany,
among other nations oppose the Turkey-Israel-USA bloc. It could also pose a
considerable problem for relations between USA and Europe. With in the
terms of this agreement, the PKK is designated as target. Israeli experts are
currently educating the Turks and taking part in their operations. Israel is
supplying landmines, rolled barbed wire and trip wires which illuminate the
border. Mines are attached to the wires which light up illuminating the area
where tripped. There is a large force in position on the hills above Isikveren
where this work has been carried out already. Turkey’s invasion of south
Kurdistan in March 1995 was conducted with the support of Israeli officers.
They played a role in both the planning and technical aspects. Intelligence-
sharing is directed against both Iran and Syria. This literally cuts Turkey off
from its neighbors. Although the Refah Party expressed discomfort it made
no attempt to oppose the pact. Syria, Egypt and Iraq also expressed approval
and threatened Turkey. Jordan, as an ally of America, was however
supportive. This line-up opens a wider front for our struggle politically.
Turkey is becoming isolated in the region and opposed by its neighbors
because it has targeted Iran, Iraq, and Syria. The Kurdish movement can gain
a breathing space from this, as the Arab countries now view the Kurdish
Question as a major card. This is one of the most important development we
have witnessed in the region in recent times and may prompt big changes to
the status quo. The PKK’s importance also clearly emerges. The PKK takes on
grater significance, whether as friend or foe. New political opportunities are
opening up for us. For the first time, a number of Arab countries have joined
the same side as the Kurds, in opposition. The PKK can extend its front and
carry on its struggle more comfortably. The two blocs depend on the PKK’s
position as a significant force in both north and south Kurdistan.

A LAMENTABLE SITUATION IN SOUTH KURDISTAN

After the Gulf War, America’s influence was clearly exposed because the
other Kurdish parties were not prepared for, nor planned to be, in power, they
lost their opportunities. We have tried to make those same possibilities
useful for the Kurdish people. This was the main reason for the war between
us, in 1992, and again in 1995. It is a little different now as the influence of the
KDP and PUK is waning. But to this day the new party in the south is not
allowed the freedom to move. Democracy is in crisis. The old parties attempts
to remain in power in the same old form has held the region back and
inhibits the development of South Kurdistan. These parties encourage
internal collapse and are in fact allowing the region to decline.

THE PKK AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SOUTH

The lack of a political solution and of development makes for an uncertain
future for south Kurdistan. Neither can economic development occur
without a democratic federation. The other problems cannot be resolved
without resolving the status of south Kurdistan in relation to Iraq. Although
the National Congress cannot solve everything, it could still have been an
opening. The KDP and PUK obstructed it as it didn’t serve their interests
because the people would then be bound to the congress and not to them. It
would bring about an end to the power of the militias. The PUK says, “Yes we
are in favor of the Congress”, but opposes it in practice. The KDP says “its too
early!” They were presented with all the necessary opportunities to run south
Kurdistan in 1991; everything they needed to run a government was there
after Saddam left the region. After all this time we are still trying to revive
the south Kurdistan parliament and get them back on their feet. Either there
will be a democratic federation or it will be end of the road.

MY OWN POSITION

I didn’t go to the mountains for this, for so many villages to be burnt down
and people murdered, that the wishes of this or that government could be
implemented at the expense of our people and our children. Since the end of
1975, I’ve been active whether in the mountains or the cities. But it is worse
now. We are here to make sure that the events of 1975 in south Kurdistan are
not repeated, even if Saddam returns. The two local parties accused us of
having relations with Saddam which we didn’t have. How dare they criticize
us when they were the ones who had such relations with him. We didn’t say
anything. For example, Jalal Talabani saying “Turkey is a democracy!” When
in 1993, the Turks attacked us with 50 jet fighters in Zele it was because a
senior PUK member had shown them exactly where we were. Their aim was
to wipe us out full-scale and leave no one alive.

SOUTHERN KURDS IN THE PKK

There are more recruits now but the southern Kurds find the discipline
tough, or join because of the problem of hunger. Then they take their guns
away and sell them. It is the same with the KDP and PUK. They join each
other’s parties taking their weapons to sell.

POWs AND POLITICAL IMPASSE

The red cross came a number of times to see the prisoners we had captured.
The prisoners are now all staying in one place and have become part of the
way of war life there, dressed in the same clothes as everyone else and treated
as guests rather than as prisoners. They willingly joined us. They don’t want
to go back to Turkey, especially without some international guarantees. Some
want to go to Europe. They would have left before now had there been any
international progress or someone to take responsibility for them. Others
want to stay and fight on our side anyhow. They are mostly Turkish by
origin. The Turkish government has not responded to their families’ requests
despite the mediation of the Red Cross. They ignore them. Some letters have
been exchanged with their families. We invited their families to come and
visit them but the Turkish government wouldn’t allow them. Even so, some
families came and saw them. Some of these mothers of soldiers and guerrillas
are also uniting to work together for peace, but the Turkish government
behaves aggressively as usual. The CHP (PeopleÕs Republican Party) also
reacted negatively. There us a new endeavor for families to work together for
peace. After some meetings with German delegations we have considered a
German proposal that Nelson Mandela mediate between ourselves and
government. We consider that this could be positive.

PEACE AND THE CEASE-FIRE

At present the operations which the Turkish government is carrying out in
Kurdistan are intensely destructive despite the unilateral cease-fire. We want
to carry on with the cease-fire but it is very difficult. It can not continue much
longer. The Turkish government says the PKK is finished and that we are
playing for time, whereas it is they who are doing it. The international
organizations know our position. The Kurdish people and the outside world
have responded positively to our initiative and to the various international
peace movements campaigning for peace in Kurdistan. But these are still
insufficient in response to the massive use of force against us. Turkey has not
changed at all. Their operations continue daily. What clearly emerges is that
Turkey does not favor a political solution and relies solely on a military
solution. From our point of view, we have achieved considerable success
proving we want peace. Conversely, the militaristic face of Turkey has been
exposed. Turkey advances against us with the sole object of annihilation and
we can but defend ourselves against her. A massive devastation of the
natural environment is taking place. The army poisons the wells, kills the
crops, burns the forests-even the birds and animals are slaughtered. How
much longer are we to wait?

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