Victory to the Kurdish Hunger Strikers, Freedom for Abdullah Ocalan!

Today will mark the 55th day of the Hunger Strike in Turkey being carried out by imprisoned members and supporters of the KCK (Union of Communities in Kurdistan). The KCK includes members of the armed resistance groups the PKK and PJAK, alongside Kurdish politicians, trade unionists, journalists, students, lawyers and human rights activists.

Despite there being roughly 776 prisoners currently refusing food, civil disobedience in all areas of Kurdistan and demonstrations across Europe, there has been little, if any, coverage in the western media.

This hunger strike has arisen amidst the context of the ongoing state repression against the KCK since the mass trials of October 2010, where 152 members and supporters were tried in Turkish courts. 7748 people have been imprisoned and over 3800 people have been arrested during operations against the KCK in the past nine months.

Hunger striker Mazlum Tekdag explains here his motivations,

”The freedom struggle of the Kurdish people is still suppressed by means of unfair and unlawful practices. The Kurdish people’s language, culture, identity is disregarded; its political will is totally isolated and is tried to be eliminated and liquidated via military and political operations. We have to resist these practices and this concept in every sense. Each and every field forms a ground for intense struggle.”

Kurds are the most significant ethnic minority in Turkey, numbering around 26 million people, with the complete Kurdish population combined between Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Armenia totalling over 60 million, not counting the Kurdish diaspora. To this day neither country, except Iraq, constitutionally recognise the ethnic, linguistic and cultural distinctiveness of Kurds. All these countries, including Britain, The USA and EU, also regard the vanguard of the Kurdish resistance movement: the PKK as a terrorist organisation, despite commanding the overwhelming support and active participation of the majority of Kurdish people.

Since 1984, the PKK have been engaged in an armed struggle to determine a sovereign national territory that would establish political security for Kurds. This struggle was pursued alongside a socialist programme for the transformation of Kurdish social and economic relations, particularly the brutal oppression of women that had hitherto existed within the patriarchal society that prevailed.

In 1999, the PKK’s Leader Abdullah Ocalan was kidnapped in Kenya after a period of travelling around Europe seeking political asylum. Turkish intelligence aided by Greece and the CIA eventually managed to capture Ocalan and bring him before a Turkish court, insultingly charging him with treason and death by hanging. Turkey was eventually forced by the European union to overturn this decision as a precondition for its admittance to the EU. Ocalan remains in solitary confinement to this day and has been denied access to his lawyers for over a year now.

Ocalan further developed his political philosophy during this time in prison and has since had three volumes of his prison writings published, alongside various documents outlining potential solutions to the Kurdish question. The most significant policy change Ocalan argued for during this time was to amend the aim of securing a defined national territory as a strategic objective.

The PKK has since renounced the demand for an independent national state and have instead adopted as a solution a model they term ‘Democratic Confederalism’.

Ocalan outlines here the case against the foundation of a Kurdish nation state:

”Over the last decades the Kurds have not only struggled against repression by the dominant powers and for the recognition of their existence but also for the liberation of their society from the grip of feudalism. Hence it does not make sense to replace the old chains by new ones or even enhance the repression. This is what the foundation of a nation-state would mean in the context of the capitalist modernity. Without opposition against the capitalist modernity there will be no place for the liberation of the peoples. This is why the founding of a Kurdish nation-state is not an option for me.” (A. Ocalan ‘Democratic Confederalism, 2011)

The democratic confederalist model aims instead towards being,

”Open towards other political groups and factions. It is flexible, multi-cultural, anti-monopolistic, and consensus-oriented. Ecology and feminism are central pillars. In the frame of this kind of self-administration an alternative economy will become necessary, which increases the resources of the society instead of exploiting them and thus does justice to the manifold needs of the society.” (A. Ocalan ‘Democratic Confederalism, 2011)

The PKK as the vanguard of the Kurdish struggle has in turn reorganised itself in light of new political realities confronting them in the 21st century. They developed the position that the idea of a nation-state was a specific necessity for the European bourgeoisie to manage their affairs as capitalism eventually replaced feudalism as a form of civilisation.

Therefore, for socialism in the 21st century to become an alternative and realisable form of civilisation for Kurds, the nation state must be transcended; new chains must not replace the old ones. The KCK was thus envisaged and is currently being organised as the embryonic form of the democratic confederalist society.

Kurdistan is a vital strategic territory for western imperialism, itself carrying several oil and gas pipelines through Turkey to supply European and American energy needs, with Iraqi Kurdistan also harbouring the largest reserves of Oil in Iraq. As a result the Kurds are under extreme pressures given their strategic geopolitical positioning; any gains for the Kurds would be a massive blow against imperialism in the middle east.

The Arab uprisings have posed serious challenges to the hegemony of western imperialism in the Middle East. The Kurds are organising to take advantage of any shifts in the balance of power there and the Kurdish question is subsequently becoming a central issue in determining the future of the region.

In a recent interview with Al Jazeera news, Murat Karayilan, acting leader of the KCK’s armed forces, significantly called for a ‘Kurdish Spring’. This Hunger strike therefore has to be seen amidst the context of the recent and growing mass resistance since the 2010 trials against the KCK, a subsequent political and military offensive by the Turkish state and the intensification of the class struggle across the Middle East more generally.

The Kurdish armed resistance under the direction of Karayilan has also switched its strategy from guerilla warfare, to capturing and holding territory. Kurds in Syria (Western Kurdistan) have also managed to establish de facto regional autonomy in a strategically important area along Turkey’s southern border, prompting Turkey to call for a NATO intervention in the Syrian conflict for fear of any Kurdish held territory expanding. The Kurdish ‘Popular Protection Units’ (YPG) claim also to have over 1,500 members organised into four brigades protecting their newly liberated territory in Syria.

The extent to which western imperialism can exert influence within this rapidly changing political landscape, will be determined by the extent to which the Kurds and the KCK are able to hold and expand liberated territories within such a strategically important geographical area. Revolutionary forces in the core and semi-periphal capitalist territories must as a result, intensify the class struggle on the economic and political front here, and mobilise against any further imperialist interventions in the Middle East.

Internal crises within the imperialist core territories tend to become externalised and exported to peripheral regions with the threat of a wider conflagration of conflict as a potential resolution to capitalism’s latest internal crisis. Hence greater amounts of research and spending on arms, warplanes, ammunition and the increasing militarisation of high technology. This could be termed ‘productive destruction’ as the internal contradictions of a capitalist crisis of overproduction, particularly within the arms industry are potentially resolved within this situation. This state of permanent militarisation reflects also a more general trend within western capitalism since the end of the cold war right up to the most recent crisis, as the US/NATO military-industrial complex has retained a monopoly of techno-military force over all other rival imperialist blocs. The militarisation of the periphery, also necessarily entails greater securitisation and repression in the core as has been witnessed over the past decade, and which must be opposed and confronted.

Republican Congress would like to take this opportunity to express it’s solidarity with the heroic hunger strikers and fully support their three main demands: the release of the imprisoned Kurdish leader Abduallah Ocalan, full language rights and regional self governance for Kurds in Turkey.

We also send our solidarity to the roughly 100 students of Pamukkale University in Turkey, who were attacked and arrested by police during a demonstration in support of the hunger strikers last Friday, 2nd November.

We have recently established also, links with Kurdish revolutionaries based here in Ireland. As Che Guevara understood, there are no borders in the struggle for freedom. Capitalist imperialism does not recognise any borders, neither should we as revolutionaries.

Click here to sign the petition in support of the hunger strikers, and also here to demand the release of Abdullah Ocalan.




Comhdháil Poblachtach recognised as QUB society

On Monday 7th February 2011 Comhdháil Poblachtach Ollscoil Banriona / QUB Republican Congress was officially recognised as a student society within Queens University and the QUB Students Union. It was the culmination of hard work by Comhdháil Poblachtach activists, after a considerable and protracted campaign by some from within and without the University to cease the campaign and activities. Those same people attempted on the night to stop the recognition of the society by casting aspirations and attempting to blacken the name of the society, however, the Society laid out its position clearly and unambiguously, the Chairperson Adhamh O’hÉarcáin stated that;
“We feel that the questions posed (by some in the student council) were somewhat repetitive and Kafkaesque in nature, and akin to political vetting. Therefore the following statement reflects our position adequately:
“We feel that the questions posed (by some in the student council) were somewhat repetitive and Kafkaesque in nature, and akin to political vetting. Therefore the following statement reflects our position adequately: 

“Comhdhail Poblachtach/Republican Congress is an openly organised, public, transparent and democratic manifestation of socialist republican politics. Our politics and policies are clearly defined, and suffice it to say we see no merit in producing an exhaustive list of implied terms and conditions regarding such. That said, we intend to work with the Students Union and within the constitutional arrangements set in place.”

Comhdháil Poblachtach Ollscoil Banriona would therefore like to thank all those people who supported us through our campaign and were not deterred by the intimidation and vilification of our society. Go raith mile maith agaibh.

Defend Free Speech – Fight PSNI & Unionist Intimidation

QUB Republican Congress has been prevented by Unionists and their supporters from being registered as a full society despite having fulfilled all the SU requirements. As a result the society is being prevented from holding meetings on SU or college property. Having had three successful public meetings before Christmas in private venues with three hundred in attendance the society has planned a full list of meetings/protests for the coming term. However PSNI/RUC intimidation has resulted in access to these private venues also being denied to the society. Despite this,  ‘The Republican Congress’ is determined to push ahead and plans to hold the first two meetings as open air events in front of QUB Students Union.

The IMF Loans- An attack on Ireland’s Independence
Date- Wednesday 2nd February
Assemble outside Queens Students Union
Time- 7pm
Andy Storey- UCD Lecturer
Patricia Campbell- National Chairperson of Independent Workers Union
Stewart Reddin- éirígí

Shell to Sea
Speakers- Maura Harrington and member of Rossport Solidarity Camp
Time- 7pm
Date- Wednesday 9th February
Assemble outside Queens Students Union

Students stage sit down protest

The 9th of December saw a very encouraging turnout  of close to 2000 students on the streets of Belfast to voice their opposition to the proposed tripling of fees and scrapping of EMA. Beginning with a walkout by students from a number of secondary schools in the Belfast area, the main protest was staged in front of city hall. This was soon met by a feeder march by FEE QUB which started outside the Queens University lanyon building.

The demonstration then began with a number of speakers from some of the schools who were represented on the day. After this it seemed as if some students had become disillusioned other than the odd chant and a few tried to disperse the crowd. This was met with a speech by a Comhdháil Poblachtach activist stating that we would not be prepared to leave and spurring the crowd on to continue the protest and step up our actions.

The crowds actions then shifted and a protest began on the road in front of city hall, preventing traffic from moving and disrupting the city centre. Met with the police, students decided to stage a sit down protest amidsts chants of “We shall not be moved.” Whilst being slowly pushed back, numbers were rising and another junction was blocked causing further traffic disruption and in effect closing down a section of the city centre.

Then came the turning point. A baton charge by TSG members of the PSNI forcing students back and in the process, injuring a number of teenagers. This was the start of a standoff which lasted for a number of hours between the police and the students. The latter of which continued to face police brutality. A kettle attempt was initiated by the PSNI whilst a significant section of the protestors were able to continue the sit down protest.

Around 9 people were arrested as a result with 2 being charged. A protest is being arranged in solidarity with these 2 on the 5th of January outside Belfast Magistrates Court at 9:30AM

These events are extremely important in the struggle against the cuts. They show that young people will simply not sit and accept unfair cuts that are being forced upon them. Education is a right that must not be allowed to descend into elitism and privatisation with a new £9000 a year fee cap. However, it is not just students who should be fighting against cuts but this protest should spur on workers to organise and protest rather than accepting cuts when over £120 billion is being lost to tax avoidance and evasion by the rich and bankers are being paid ridiculous bonuses.

More protests will be coming soon and an organisation meeting has been proposed for early next week. This protest was only the beginning and Comhdháil Poblachtach Ollscoil Banríona will continue to support and take part in these actions.

Qub Student Occupation

Comhdháil Poblachtach activists were amongst the students who occupied the main building in Queens University today (30th November). The sit in protest organised by FEE (Free Education for Everyone) was initiated due to the proposal to lift the cap on university fees, whereby some universities could charge as much as £12,000 a year.

About 50 protesters said they were seeking a meeting with Vice-Chancellor Peter Gregson, who whilst proposing to increase fees retained his membership of a £900-a-year membership of the Athenaeum Club in London’s Pall Mall. A Freedom of Information request last year revealed that Gregson stayed at the five-star Mayfair hotel on 23rd October last year, claiming back £294.55 for just one night. The information also provided to the The Irish News shows that Gregson stayed in a hotel on at least two out of five visits to the city of London.

He also resides in the vice-chancellor’s lodge on leafy Lennoxvale, on the Malone Road, in which he presumably lives rent free. Additionally, a number of vice-chancellors saw their pay and benefits packages soar by more than 10% last year to an average of £220,000, excluding pensions.

This says it all really.
Students – Join the Fight Back!!

Is the cure for Irelands ills a 32 county socialist republic?

On Thursday 25th November 2010, over 150 socialist republicans gathered in the Holiday Inn in Belfast to hear an invited panel of guests debate the question “Is the cure for Irelands ills a 32 county socialist republic?” The panel consisted of Daithí Mac An Mhaistír – éirígí, Eoin O’Broin – Sinn Féin and author of ‘Sinn Féin and the Politics of Left Republicanism’, Brian Hanley – Author of ‘Lost Revolution- The story of the Official IRA and Workers Party’ and Anthony McIntyre – Author of ‘Good Friday- The Death of Irish Republicanism.’

In the days preceding the meeting, attempts were made to force the abandonment of the meeting when sinister elements issued threats to the Hotel in relation to the debate. Nonetheless, the hotel did not give in to such intimidation and must be commended for their steadfastness and resoluteness in the face of such attempts at terrorization. As a result Comhdháil Poblachtach took it upon themselves to retain security for the event.

The event however, was subject to intense PSNI attention, with police vehicle checkpoints being set up on all the access routes to the hotel, whilst police monitored those attending the event. The PSNI informed the hotel that they wished 10 officers to sit in the next room to the meeting but when Comhdháil Poblachtach objected to this, they forced the PSNI to move to the other side of the hotel away from the event. Chairperson of Comhdháil Poblachtach, Ádhamh O’ hÉarcáin outlined the real nature of the security operation by the PSNI, he stated

“The police presence and operation was initiated under the guise of the protection against alleged threats that were given in the days preceding the meeting, yet consequently, the PSNI attention was clearly focused on those socialist republicans attending the event.”

He went on to say:

“Comhdháil Poblachtach’s decision to retain security for the event proved prudent as half an hour into proceedings an elaborate hoax bomb warning was phoned in to the Hotel, which was deciphered as such, and the Hotel management were content, after searches by and consultation with the security provider, that the hoax bomb phone call was exactly that.”

Nonetheless, the event continued regardless and the speakers each gave a brief synopsis of the current economic state of Ireland and their opinion of socialist position in relation to it. The audience then participated in a lively and open debate around the issues discussed and put numerous questions to the panel. The evening was a great success and enjoyed by all those in attendance. Comhdháil Poblachtach has again shown tremendous leadership in what was a radical and cutting edge event which brought all shades of socialist republicanism together and debated the future of our country, even in the face of such adversity and hostile behaviour.

Parades Meeting

After a successful meeting on the 17th of November, we would like to extend our gratitude to all who attended. The meeting surrounding the issue of parades. In particular, we would like to thank Gerard Rice and Breandán Mac Cionnaith who were our speakers for the night. The meeting was well attended and produced a productive debate surrounding the issues with Orange Order marches in 2010. These included whether anything has actually changed since the creation of the parades comission and also importantly, how the media can become a deciding factor in how people will come to view the protests advocating rerouting.

This was the second meeting for us and once again a successful one. We would like to continue this momentum with a debate coming up next week surrounding the future of republicanism and the place of socialism within. The details can be found in the previous post. Go raibh maith agaibh