Free Abdullah Ocalan! Free Kurdistan! Free Kosova!


The passing of the death sentence on Kurdish liberation fighter Abdullah Ocalan on June 29 by a political court of the viciously anti-democratic, military-backed government of Turkey highlights the depth of hypocrisy and utter cynicism of the imperialist rulers of the United States and Europe.

Throughout its recent air war on Serbia, Washington deceitfully claimed that NATO's bombardment was a "humanitarian" intervention in response to the Milosevic regime's "ethnic cleansing" of the Albanian-speakers who are the overwhelming majority in Kosova.

On May 13, Bill Clinton declared that the war was necessary "to reverse the systematic campaign of terror, and to bring peace and freedom to Kosovo". "Will repression and brutality, rooted in ethnic, racial and religious hatreds, dominate the agenda for the new century and the new millennium?", Clinton asked.

The US role in the abduction of Ocalan — its intelligence services tracked his movements and tipped off the Turkish special forces — and Washington's long collaboration with the Turkish military in its quest to crush the Kurdish people show that its solemn commitments to the high ideals of human and national rights are a pack of lies. The obscene participation of Turkish planes in the bombing of Serbia and Turkish troops participation in the "peacekeeping" force now occupying Kosova underlines the hypocrisy.

The human and national rights of more than 30 million Kurds have been trampled by the states of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, each of which occupies a part of Kurdistan. The West, which parades as the defender of freedom, has supported the oppression of the Kurds ever since the division of Kurdistan by Britain and France immediately after World War I.

Without massive military and financial support from the West, especially the US, Turkey could not have continued its genocidal war against the Kurds for the last 15 years — a war that has resulted in more than 35,000 deaths and the destruction of more than 3000 Kurdish villages. More than 3 million Kurds have been forced from their ancestral homeland into Turkey's urban slums.

While the West supports this status quo, it sometimes pays lip service to the national rights of the Kurds for its own ends — much like it is feigning support for the rights of the Kosovars today.

After supporting Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's genocidal war against the Kurds in the 1980s, Washington and Britain turned around and created a "no fly" zone, supposedly a "safe haven" for Kurds, as a weapon against Saddam after the Gulf War. This, however, has not prevented Turkish troops from staging repeated invasions to kill Kurdish freedom fighters.

US and other Western governments do not conceal their desire for Baghdad to fill the "power vacuum" in "northern Iraq" (the word "Kurdistan" is taboo) once Saddam has been removed by a military coup or assassination.

Turkey is central to US domination of the Middle East and central Asia. US warplanes based in Turkey patrol the "no-fly" zone over northern Iraq and Washington has cobbled together an uneasy alliance of conservative, anti-independence Kurdish factions to administer the area with the approval of Ankara.

Crushing Ocalan's Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is an important goal of US policy because the party's militant and principled refusal to abandon its support for Kurdish national self-determination — and its stated commitment to Marxism — stands in stark contrast to the self-serving compromisers with Washington, Ankara, Baghdad and Tehran that administer northern Iraq.

An independent Kurdistan in southern Turkey led by the anti-imperialist PKK, with overwhelming support among Turkey's 15 million Kurds, as well as growing support in northern Iraq, would be contrary to US interests in the region.

Ocalan and the PKK's "crime" has been to lead a heroic struggle to defend the Kurdish people against a vicious enemy who is using the most sophisticated weapons of war (US-supplied) to carry out "ethnic cleansing" and is denying basic language and cultural rights on a scale that towers above that carried out by Milosevic against the Kosovars.

Washington is an enemy of peoples seeking genuine national self-determination, as its treatment of the Kurds so chillingly illustrates. The US-directed war against Serbia had nothing to do with defending the Kosovar people from Milosevic's attacks. A central goal was to prevent the Kosova Liberation Army from defeating the Serbian army and winning independence. The latter aim is becoming clearer as NATO disarms the KLA fighters.

Supporters of the rights of oppressed peoples must give solidarity to the Kurds' campaign for the release of Abdullah Ocalan, an end to the war on the basis of respect for their national rights, and an end to military and political support for the brutal Turkish regime.

We must also demand that NATO withdraw from Kosova immediately and allow the Kosovar people to determine their own future free from interference by Washington and Belgrade.