November 18, 1999
Letter to the Presidency of the OSCE

Dear Representatives,

I readily greet the historic outcomes and your efforts for finding solutions to the problems at the meeting in Istanbul, the last and the biggest summit of the 20th century you have undertaken in Turkey.

It was the lack of evolution of the [Turkish] Republic in a democratic direction and lack of a proper constitutional expression that led to the emergence of the “Last Kurdish Rebellion” for which I [am held responsible] as its leader and was put on trial. The greatest part of the 75-year history of the Republic was spent similarly in suppressing and pacifying the [Kurdish] rebellions. It has now become clear that these methods brought no [lasting] solutions and were an expression of inadequacy. The steps that the PKK has undertaken and wants to expand (such as ending the armed struggle and implementing the programme of strategic change and transformation of its structure) aim at legal and democratic transformation [in Turkey].

The authoritarian nature of the Republic that was not initially a core part of its spirit, but a consequent acquisition, played a fundamental role in the emergence of the PKK. During the emergence period of the PKK, even the utterance of the word “Kurd” was prohibited.

An aberration such as “banning Kurdish” that symbolised a limitless oppression unparalleled in history, was a common occurrence at that time [PKK’s emergence period]. During that period, far beyond a simple lack of democracy, a shocking denial [of Kurdish identity] was the rule. Such an extreme form of denial of identity allowed no other mode of expression [except the armed struggle].

It is clear that examining the manner in which many of the modern nations handled and resolved similar problems and events in their own histories is vital, not only for finding an urgent solution but also for enabling a more objective approach by way of comparisons with such historical cases.

Free expression of diversity is an essential foundation for strength and enrichment, not a sign of weakness or fragmentation. Diversity is becoming more and more a defining characteristic of our contemporary world.

History has exposed the inhumane face of fanatical religion, tribal and national chauvinism and experiments of the totalitarian regimes. All went bankrupt in the wars of our century. In contrast to such regimes, the diverse and practical characteristics of the democratic system punctuated its global victory. Undoubtedly, the contemporary civilisation is a democratic civilisation.

Within the framework [provided above], leaving this rebellion to its historical place as the last, all encompassing event of this century in our geography and in the light of the lessons to be derived from this rebellion, I believe that the best approach is to lead Turkey into the new millennium with a democratic solution based on individual freedom and social consensus and rely on the democratic evolution of the Republic.

The most important lesson to be derived from a rebellion that constrained the classical laws of the Republic so much is that the democratic republic needs a new constitutional expression. The rights and responsibilities of a free individual and society can only emanate from such a democratic constitution. On the basis of “the constitutional citizenship” as also expressed by Mr. Demirel, a democratic union can play the critical role in overcoming current problems. Because even the leading jurists of Turkey bravely acknowledge that not only the current constitution has no relation to democracy, but that it is an impediment to a state based on law and order.

The Kurds want to take their place within the democratic content of the republic, like they did in the days of the foundation of the Republic, as an essential founding element of it; they want to live in the most stable democratic unity with the Republic. The reality of this unity is so rich and so strong that it is impossible to part from one another in spite of all the hardships involved.

Since it was from the failure of the Republic to democratise that this problem arose, its solution can be found on the same level, within a profound democratisation, departing from the last uprising under the leadership of the PKK that it has given rise to. All sides involved have seen that there cannot be an applicable, realistic solution to the dead-lock that the Kurdish question is, apart from profound democratisation. By the end of the 20th century, repression and enforced assimilation have scientifically speaking lost meaning as much as uprising as a form of reaction has. These methods do not cause anything but pains and increasing casualties to both society and state. This is a lesson history teaches us that we can no longer afford to ignore. As long as I live it will be my fundamental role to purge the PKK of the method of violence and prepare it for legal transformation within the process of democratisation that Turkey has entered. The PKK’s central organs have publicly declared to the world their determination to terminate armed struggle and the party has proven its honesty by sending delegations for peace and a solution to Turkey. I wish to express my belief that the organisation as a whole will shortly, on entering the 21st century, succeed in showing the commitment to officially adopt this approach by holding a party congress. I am full of hope that the state in turn will display an increased willingness to facilitate transformation to allow integration into a democratic process. As far as this is concerned, there are some encouraging openings from the highest institutions and officials of the state.

I believe that you would also want to strengthen and support such encouraging steps and contribute towards a peaceful and democratic solution of the conflict.

Again, I wish to reiterate my conviction that solving the Kurdish question and creating the grounds for democracy in Turkey will be a guarantee for peace in the Middle East and far beyond. It is probably for the first time in history that the Kurdish question, this two century old problem that has amounted to a dead-lock, has come so close to being resolved. And I do believe that if a solution to the problem emerges within the democratic system of Turkey, it might serve as a model for democratic systems deserving acknowledgement in the whole of the Middle East.

With due respect to your worthy offices, I shall express the view that the winning side will be democracy and the democratic system.

Yours faithfully,

Abdullah Ocalan

Imrali Island