Leila Khaled on the Kurdish struggle

March 22, 2024
woman with headphones
Leila Khaled at the HDP congress in 2018. Photo: ANF English

Leila Khaled is one of the few well-known Palestinian freedom fighters who has consistently spoken out in support of the Kurdish liberation struggle. She has previously spoken at congresses of the pro-Kurdish rights Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey, now replaced by the People's Democracy and Equality (DEM) party due to state repression.

In February 2020, Khaled told the HDP congress: “We struggle together against Zionism, against imperialism and bigotry.”

Khaled re-affirmed her support for the rights of the Kurds in an interview with Green Left on February 18.

“The Kurds were divided between four countries, Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq, since the end of the Ottoman empire. This is an injustice and this issue is still not solved.

“I know that they are oppressed and for this reason we have had links with the Kurds from a long time ago. They were trained in our camps because they were fighting for their rights.”

Kurdish freedom fighters died defending Palestinian fighters in Lebanon in 1982.

“The majority of the Kurds are in Turkey — some 20 million," said Khaled. “Who is going to say that those Kurds in Turkey who are fighting the government are not the Indigenous people? Nobody can say that. They are the people who have been living there but after many wars some have been forced to flee to other countries.

“They have a national identity just as we have our identity as Palestinians.

“In Iraq, the Kurds have won the right to self-autonomy, although within the state of Iraq. They have the right to have their own parliament and their language. In Iran and Turkey, nothing like this has happened.”

While she has publicly condemned Turkey’s ongoing cross-border war on Kurds in Syria, Khaled has concerns that the autonomous territories held by the Kurds and allies in North and East Syria (Rojava) are too dependent on the United States' intervention to weaken Syria as a country.

“They have a right in Rojava to self-autonomy because that is just.

“So what will be the solution? Some Kurds speak about secession and to have a state of their own but this will not give them their rights.

“In the current balance of forces, the Kurds cannot win a separate state, whether in Iraq, Iran, Syria or Turkey.

“This solution of self-autonomy within the existing states, [guaranteed] by the law, is what can work.”

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