Rahila Gupta: We needed real action to stop the persecution

  • 10:41 15 February 2023
  • News
ANKARA - On the anniversary of the international conspiracy, writer and activist Rahila Gupta said, “Turkey allies the US and Israel had hoped that the capture of Ocalan would need to be end of the Kurdish struggle for justice and human rights, how long they were 24 years later the movement has gone from strength to strength. So, they have not been successful in terms of what they thought they would achieve with this capture.”
The international conspiracy against PKK Leader Abdullah Ocalan has entered its 25th year. Abdullah Ocalan was abducted from the Kenyan Embassy of Greece on February 15, 1999 and brought to Turkey, 4 months after the conspiracy was launched on October 9, 1998.
Journalist/writer and activist Rahila Gupta evaluated the international dimension of the 15 February 1999 international conspiracy, the isolation and denial policies still carried out on the Kurdish people and PKK Leader Abdullah Ocalan in Turkey.
‘Women and men have kept the flame alive’
Expressing that the isolation of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan by being brought to Turkey as a result of an international conspiracy could not prevent the struggle of the Kurdish movement, Rahila stated that despite 24 years, the struggle continues contrary to what the USA and Israel had hoped. Rahila said, “The first thing to say to Turkey allies the US and Israel had hoped that the capture of Ocalan would need to be the end of the Kurdish struggle for justice and human rights, how long they were 24 years later the movement has gone from strength to strength. Women and men have kept the flame alive. We also have launched the Rojava women's revolution, which is administering nearly 1/3 of Syrian territory. So, they have not been successful in terms of what they thought they would achieve with this capture. Of course, his capture was a huge body blow to the movement, and I know he remains a dearly loved and much admired hero of the movement. His release would not only be the right thing to do, but it would provide the movement was a huge boost to morale. “
States are hypocritical
Rahila said that one of the counties leading the international conspiracy is the USA while the USA stands by the Kurdish people when its political interests are in question, when the interests end, there is no trace of human rights that it boasts about. Evaluating these moves of the USA as "hypocrisy", Rahila said: “In terms of the countries involved, I know that the US and Israel are centrally involved although there are question marks about Israel's involvement but to take, for example, the issue of the US they have been very hypocritical. I mean, everything that they do in terms of their foreign policy is to protect their subscriptions. They're not really interested in human rights. They're not really interested in democracy and all those sorts of values that they use to describe their own society and to say how wonderful the USA is in comparison to the rest of the world. They are not interested in promoting those values, anywhere else in the world. I would say as well as our sheer cheap when they came out along with Europe and supported the Syrian Defense Forces in Rojava against ISIS.” Rahila stated that the US's approach to the PKK and PYD is based on its own interests, and that this is hypocrisy.
'Turkey getting paid to look after the refugees’
Expressing that the international silence against the isolation and what is done to the Kurdish people stems from geopolitical balances, Rahila said that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used many crises to strengthen his power. Rahila added, “Sadly, from the point of view of the Kurdish movement, Turkey has become something of an important player in geopolitics in the sort of international scene; Erdogan has suddenly appeared to be the peacemaker in the war of the Russian aggression in Ukraine. So he was able to ask for negotiations or to block, for example, the entry of Sweden, and Finland into NATO. They don't sell arms to Turkey, so they have to agree to sell arms to Turkey, and they have to agree to return Kurdish expatriates who are all PKK to Turkey. We know from the Turkish Government's record that, all Kurdish people are criminalized, as potential supporters of the PKK, all Kurdish people who support this freedom struggle aren't criminals or terrorists. It’s going to mean that Sweden which had given protection to Kurdish refugees has given up on a central plank of its policy on refugees. Plus, Turkey having taken Europe's burden of refugees away from Europe but also negotiating sums of money in return. The irony is that actually some of those refugees have been created by Turkish policy in Syria and so now they're getting paid to look after the same people they've turned into refugees.”
'Turkey should be boycotted'
 Rahila stated that Turkey's persecution of the Kurdish people and Abdullah Öcalan should be seriously boycotted. “They've got a very strong international position at the moment, which means that it makes life very difficult for campaigners and activists to make any call to Turkey to ask you to stop it feels very weak. It falls on deaf ears, because we have no negotiating chips in our hand. And the only way I believe that he can be made to listen Erdogan can be made to listen is to hurt him where it really hurts. For example, the Turkish economy is not doing well. The lira is dropping in value, runaway inflation, prices of food, etc. are exorbitant so that there is unrest in the country. We need to make that worse by boycotting Turkey effectively by in terms of tourism and the purchase of Turkish goods and so on. So that's something we shouldn't be doing. Really, the effort of campaigners and activists should be to turn Turkey into a pariah state, like South Africa were to do business even though there was hypocrisy there and people were doing business in South Africa behind the scenes. What we should be doing as far as that is concerned, is to make countries embarrassed to deal with Turkey because of its oppression of the Kurdish people. Those are the things that we should be doing” Rahila said.
Criticism of international institutions
Pointing to the stance of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), Rahila said that international institutions are weak in preventing torture. Criticizing that Abdullah Öcalan's conditions have not changed for 24 years, Rahila said,”We've seen recently that all these European bodies and the UN and all of that have not been very effective in the most recent example being the CPT is a protection, but what does it stand for protection against torture? They visit in Imrali quite regularly and they have not released the most recent report the recommendations that they make that Abdullah Ocalan is being held instead of amounts to torture. It doesn't meet with the Mandela laws on imprisoning on prisoners, basically, that they should not be subjected to solitary confinement beyond 15 days. He's been in solitary confinement for years. So it's a form of psychological torture. Nothing was done, hardly anything shifts. So all of these things, all these bodies that get together there are no other means by which to try and influence the shape of things, but they are basically quite weak at the end of the day, so it's trying to change that equation.”
'CPT has shown that it has failed'
 Rahila pointed out that it is important to make recommendations and actions to meet with PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan, but that now more action than advice is needed, adding that Turkey will neither obey nor international silence will be broken until the geopolitical and economic realities in the region change. Expressing the weakness of the United Nations organs, Rahila stated “So in terms of his internal domestic politics in terms of external international politics the only time when there was a slight danger that Turkey's view of Kurdish people being terrorists might change, or might be forced to change is when the American Coalition came in and gave air cover to the fight against DAİŞ in Rojava. Even that turned out to be very limited in terms of wide ranging consequences. It was very limited to the war against DAİŞ. The other issue where it was a wedge to open this discussion up was the Belgian court judgment, which said that he was a legitimate representative and PKK was legitimate representative for people fighting for their self-determination and freedom. That has gone nowhere sadly, but it was a very important development. Yes, we have to be carrying on doing something we have to be seen to be doing something about it. We feel better that we are making some steps in the direction of helping Abdullah Ocalan but actually the reality is that until the geopolitical realities on the ground change, until the economic realities shift we are not going to have much sway with Turkey in whatever we demand offered. The CPT has shown that it is toothless. All of these UN bodies really don't have any power to enforce change. They can make recommendations, I’m not denying it’s important, but I think we need to not put too much emphasis on them to recognize the limitations of these bodies and what they can achieve.”
'We need real action, not a call'
 Expressing that Turkey's important election in front of us will change many things or that Turkey's people will be completely under the dictatorship regime, Rahila said that international forces may take a stance on Tayyip Erdoğan's side for stability rather than a democratic country. Stating that this attitude should be resisted, Rahila said that a real action is needed against the Kurds and to stop the isolation and made the following assessment: “That making calls on Turkey is a bit of a waste of time. I personally think it's rhetorical. It sounds good. It makes for media sound bites, but it's not going anywhere. As I've said, we really need to mount an effective boycott of Turkey. We need to make it a pariah state we need to make the South Africa of the 21st century. Those are the efforts that activists need to protect their struggle. We need to end the sale of arms I mean, all of these are major, really difficult issues to deal with. Making a call on Turkey is pointless, its performance, and I don't particularly see the need for that.”