Kurdish PKK celebrates 38th anniversary: 'Our morales are like a bomb'
Suddenly he was standing there in a daze, PKK commander Cudi, on the volleyball court at a PKK base not too far from the Iraqi-Kurdish city of Kirkuk. He was singing a song, all alone, and then forgot the words. His audience, consisting of some fifty PKK fighters, including commanders higher in rank, encouraged him with applause. ‘Why don’t you sing the same part again?’ one of them suggested. Commander Cudi smiled apologetically, gave it some more thought, took a deep breath and continued singing.
Commander Cudi sings again. Picture: Fréderike Geerdink
Over the net of the volleyball court behind Cudi a red cloth was draped, with a few flags on it. The PKK flag, the flag of the women’s army YJAStar, a flag with the portrait of PKK leader Öcalan and more than a dozen portraits of fighters who served in this region and gave their lives. It is the background to a morning full of singing, dancing, poetry and theatre, in short of a ‘moral’, an event with which the PKK commemorates and celebrates important moments in its history. Last Sunday, 27 November, was the most important day of celebration for the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party): on that day in 1978 in a small village in the province of Diyarbakir in the southeast of Turkey the PKK was founded.
‘A new birth, a new life, a new future’, heval Kemal (heval means friend, comrade, and is the term with which PKK fighters address each other) replies to the question what 27 November means to him. ‘For the Kurds, but also for all suppressed people in the world the founding of the PKK is an important moment. We fight for all of them.’
For a long time the PKK has not only been fighting the oppressive system of the Turkish republic. Over thirty-eight years an ideology was developed that distances itself from the concept of the ‘nation state’ and pursues a system of ‘democratic confederalism’, a sort of bottom up democracy. A model, the PKK believes, that is perfectly suitable for multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic and multi-religious parts of the world, of which the MiddleEast is a clear example.
That the struggle is also anti-capitalist, shows the theatre at play in the moral. A few guerrilla fighters have dressed themselves in traditional Kurdish clothing and are planting and harvesting grain. Until capitalism comes to spoil things and highly educated professors praise the economy, the political culture and the education system. ‘For whom does this system work?’ one of the actors asks. ‘And for whom doesn’t it work?’ Then 27 November 1978 comes. The news of a new party for workers in Kurdistan spreads like wildfire. There is hope again, is the message. Thunderous applause.
A wowing party, knowing that Daesh is not too far from the base and that the war in Turkey is more intense than ever. Heval Roza: ‘We also do a moral to commemorate comrades who were martyred. We should never forget fighters and important events. But at the same time this is a message for the enemy. You can start wars, you can carry out massacres, but our morales will not be influenced by it. Our morales are always high. Our morales are like a bomb.’
The Dutch version of this article was published in weekly De Groene Amsterdammer, 1 December 2016.