Following are excerpts from an interview with PKK Military Commander Bahuz Ardal, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on November 2, 2007.
Interviewer: You are being accused of terrorism. Turkey accuses you of terrorism, and so does the U.S. and even the E.U., and recently, the Iraqi government has accused you of terrorism. Aren't you concerned that in the future, you will become a target of the so-called "global war on terrorism" of the United States?
Bahuz Ardal: What are the criteria for terrorism they are talking about? According to what criteria and standards are we defined as terrorists? What we, the Kurdish people, are demanding is to live like other human beings, like all other peoples of the world – like the Turkish and Arab peoples – in freedom and honor. Neither we nor our people ask for more than this. If this demand constitutes "terrorism," then terrorists we are. Besides, in our military operations, we observe all the international conventions and agreements. We have not targeted civilians or civilian institutions, and generally speaking, we engage in legitimate self-defense. Is any of this terrorism? If any of these demands constitute terrorism, we are the world's most terrorist movement. On the other hand, the Turkish state – even though the people of Northern Kurdistan are its citizens, and live under its protection – has bombed, burned, and exiled 4,000 Kurdish villages over the past 25 years. All this has been documented internationally, and is also to be found in the documents of the Turkish state. It has killed thousands of Kurdish civilians, under the title of "unidentified casualties." The truth is that the Turkish special forces are killing them. They perpetrate all kinds of inhuman acts against our prisoners and our wounded, and they suppress any form of peaceful democratic protest with all their might. Turkey today perpetrates the most brutal kind of terrorism – state terrorism. A most recent example is what happened in the Emrali prison to our leader. What they are doing there doesn't happen even at Guantanamo. They torture him by preventing him from drinking water, and preventing him from breathing fresh air. They have turned his entire life into torture. Why doesn’t anybody say anything about this?
The Turkish state uses our presence in Iraqi Kurdistan as a pretext, but its true goal is clear to all and is no longer a secret. Turkey seeks to mislead world public opinion into believing that the problem is restricted to Northern Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan. It is as if they have wiped us out in all the [other] regions, and all that remains is Northern Iraq. If we were asked about our location, we would say that we are first and foremost located in Turkish Kurdistan. Our main forces are in Sirnak, Hakkári, Siirt, Diyarbakir, in Mardin, Bingöl, and Diyarsin, and it's no longer a secret that we declare we are in the Black Sea region as well, and our forces are also in the Amanos Mountains, near the Mediterranean Sea. In other words, we are deep inside Turkey. Our presence in the region of the Iraqi border is not connected to the government of the Iraqi Kurdistan province. We have been here since 1982. If anybody imagines that we have been here for only three years, and that America or the government of the Iraqi Kurdistan province supports us – this is not the case. The Turkish state wants to emphasize this pretext, in order to exert pressure on the Iraqi government, and on the government of the Iraqi Kurdistan province, as well as on America, in order to get them to join in the battle against us.
The main reason for the increase in the number of votes for the Justice and Development Party in Turkish Kurdistan in the last elections was the image that this part assumed, and its commitment to take positive steps to resolve the Kurdish problem. Erdoğan came to Diyarbakir, and admitted the existence of the problem of the Kurdish people in Turkey. He said: "This is my problem." He said that the Turkish state was remiss in dealing with this problem. He made these statements is Diyarbakir in 2005. Before the elections, he declared that he would be able to establish a coalition government with the Kurdish parties. He inspired hope that there would be closer ties with the Kurds. Consequently, the Kurds were optimistic about him, but unfortunately, after the elections, it turned out that he was acting according to the traditional policy of the Turkish state.