Ms. Zilan Vejin, co-chairman of the Kurdistan Free Life Party, thank you for taking the time to partake in this interview. I will start with the following question: One year after the proposed PJAK project for other parties and political parties in Kurdistan, how do you assess the importance of this project as a member of the PJAK at this stage?
Zilan Vejin: It has been a year since the project was launched. There have been serious changes in the political, military and social aspects which requires a clear response from the Kurdish political parties at this stage. Today, we as PJAK proposed a project because the East Kurdistan and the region are going through serious changes and the Kurds need a clear stance. No matter how politically, militarily, or socially strong we might be, but alone we are unable to meet the demands of our people. As a result, we need to create unity. With that in mind, the following proposal was made in our party: As Kurdish people, what do we really want in East Kurdistan? What does the Kurdish political force require? In fact, all political balances are achieved with the Kurds and if the Kurds do not have their own will and project, then Kurdish politics will be served by foreign policies. As a result, at this point, we realized the importance of this project and proposed it accordingly.
Ms. Vejin, in your project, you emphasize that the Kurdish people must follow an independent policy. In your opinion, to what extent do you think there is an independent policy among the Kurdish political parties?
Zilan Vejin: It is very important to note up to what extent has the Kurdish parties been able to follow an independent policy. An independent policy is revealed by action. If this is done, it indicates that there is an independent political will, which is why an independent policy is important for all political forces in Kurdistan. We cannot say that the political parties in East Kurdistan have an independent policy. During the Iranian people’s revolution, the Kurdish people have sacrificed the most and have made very few gains in return for this sacrifice, due to lack of independent policy and will. East Kurdistan lacked a project to base its policy on, but it has always been played the policy of a foreign force. The main obstacle that prevents the Kurdish political parties to have a unified mindset is the lack of independent policy. This is a very serious problem and the political forces have not been able to overcome it, but why? Because they have not consolidated themselves in a historical and scientific aspect, and as a result, they have not been unable to implement an independent mindset and policy.
Ms. Vejin, you wanted to bring Kurdish politics closer to each other with the support of your project that consists of 10 Articles, but you also want to PJAK to be a vanguard in the process. However, recently some of the Kurdish parties met with the occupying government of Iran multiple times. When Kurds are unable to unite and implement an independent politics, how can they negotiate with an occupying state like Iran? Furthermore, on what basis have these parties met with the occupying Iranian government?
Zilan Vejin: Soon after we proposed our projects, the Iranian occupation regime has increased its attacks on our units, it is very difficult for the regime to change its policy. It is up to us to change the enemy’s policies because strong and independent political movements can alter the opponent’s policy. World War III is now ongoing in the region and we have always stated that this war is going on in the geography of Kurdistan where the Kurds are at the center of the conflict. That is why the war policies are being implemented in Kurdistan so that the Kurdish issue is not resolved in the region. In Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria, neither the foreign nor the regional forces which are occupying Kurdistan have ever sought to resolve the Kurdish question. Once the Kurdish problem is resolved, they will no longer find geography similar to Kurdistan in which they could implement their cold and hot wars. Foreign actors also do not want the Kurdish issue resolved, they have turned Kurdistan into their battlefield and have attempted to divide the Kurds and thus weaken the Kurdish people. This is how they impose their policy on the Kurdish people. This makes the Kurds dependent on foreign power and therefore unable to reveal their Kurdish policy or power. Having a strong military force in the region and carrying out a strong policy will reflect your strength and will. On the other hand, the hegemonic actors such as the Iranian occupation government does not want to face powerful opposition. Instead, the Iranian regime only accepts the existence of forces that it can weaken and disintegrate them.
Are you stating that this is the enemy’s policy to create division between Kurdish forces?
Zilan Vejin: Yes, that’s right. This policy of the Iranian occupation government stems from this approach. Observe how the Iranian government splits up the Iranian opposition and keeps them apart by the implementation of this policy. Today, the occupying regime wants to separate Kurdish forces with the same viewpoint. That is why I say that if the Iranian government really wants to solve the Kurdish issue, it must take the right steps and act sincerely by correcting its policies towards society. The Iranian regime has militarized the entire geography of Kurdistan and wants to consolidate its position in Kurdistan with force, which is why we as a Kurdish force must be vigilant. We may not accept each other, but if we are to be vanguards, we must have a historical seriousness against the regime when it comes to resolving the Kurdish issue and we must take formal steps to prevent the undermining of Kurdish position.
Ms. Vejin, you are saying that the Iranian occupying regime does not recognize these forces officially. The attacks against the political parties of Eastern Kurdistan (Rojhelat) in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) territory by Iran is a testimony to this claim. Now, the question is that when the Iranian occupying regime does not even recognize them officially, on what basis do these forces maintain a relationship with Iran?
Zilan Vejin: We cannot discuss this issue in such a way as to explain why there was a war yesterday, but today negotiations are being held. You fight to bring peace and reconciliation. The ground for this should always be available. What is important here is whether Iran is ready to solve the question of our nation in this circumstance or not? In our opinion, Iran wants to destroy or weaken the reaction of our people in this way. Why? Because the attacks against the Iranian state have increased and Rojhelat is located in a key geostrategic position. The Kurdish nation and Kurdish politics are also strategic. Nothing is possible without the contribution of the Kurds, neither in the world, nor in the Middle East, nor in Iran. For this reason, they attempt to disrupt the Kurdish people and diminish the Kurdish nation. The politics of this occupying regime must be well understood. A few days ago, the leader Apo in Imrali said: “I’m ready to stop this war and resolve the Kurdish question.” We, as PJAK, follow the worldview, paradigm, thoughts, and philosophy of Leader Apo. Indeed, as leader Apo, we always defend this fact that we can solve the Kurdish question. This issue for us as PJAK is a self-critical one insofar as we question why we could not solve the Kurdish question in the Middle East and Iran through a democratic solution until now. This is why this new guidance from leader Apo for us is very crucial. Although there is a difficult war, we are ready to resolve it at this stage.
Do you fight for perpetual peace and reconciliation?
Zilan Vejin: No matter how much you fight, there is no permanent war. At present, there is a tough war in the region, but this war is also not permanent. Even if it lasts ten years, what is permeant is peace, democracy, and freedom in the region. Occupation and dictatorship cannot last forever. They are ephemeral because there is no such thing in the heart of societies, and the people never demand such a thing. Without any doubt, the will of the people will prevail. In this condition, war does not serve the interests and demands of our people. However, if there is a war, we are ready for it.
Ms. Vejin, there have repeatedly been several clashes between your guerilla forces and the forces of the Iranian occupying regime in different regions. As a result of these clashes, several of your guerilla forces have been martyred, but the Iranian occupying state has continuously denied the real number of its casualties and always announced a much lower number. Are these clashes a coincidence? Or is it a policy planned by the Iranian occupying state?
Zilan Vejin: The Iranian state has occupied Rojhelat/Eastern Kurdistan. The guerilla forces of YRK are also present in many different parts of Rojhelat. When our guerillas mobilize, they confront the armies of the Iranian state, and the clashes take place. The outcome of the war is also self-evident; human beings are being slaughtered. For this reason, a few numbers of our guerilla forces have been martyred, and many enemy forces have also been killed. We have announced the name of our martyrs, but the enemy has covered the real number of its casualties.
Do you mean you do not want this war to go deeper?
Zilan Vejin: Yes, we do not want to this war to grow, though it does not mean that we are not ready for war. It is clear that in Rojhelat our forces are superior both politically and militarily to all other forces because we have experience in Rojhelat. The way that the PKK is fighting against the occupation in Northern Kurdistan provides a useful experience for us. This experience will benefit our troops at the time of any war. Without a doubt, losing our comrades at this stage were very onerous for us, but we will take revenge for these martyrs. The best reaction from everyone is to recognize and realize the goal of our comrades in Rojhelat. The reaction of the martyrs’ family was a powerful and important one. This reaction obliged us to take revenge for them. In particular, I appreciate the reaction of the families of martyrs Ruzgar and Ferhad, they should know that their will is ours. Every greeting of the mothers of the martyrs gives us strength. Their will and demand is our revolutionary struggle and work.
So, at this state, war does not serve the interest of Kurdish people?
Zilan Vejin: It won’t be because, on the one hand, foreign forces want to marginalize alternative forces, but, on the other hand, push them into a battle. There is a force that pushes us toward war, there is also a regional force that is pushing Iran toward war with us. For this reason, we should be vigilant. No one will be able to marginalize us as an alternative force at this stage. We do our revolutionary work and struggle. We carry out our politics and organize our people. Iran has carried out a specific war policy against us, the families of martyrs, our comrades, and their families. At this stage, we must be conscious and break the siege. Without any doubt, we will fight in our time and place and take revenge for our fallen comrades.
So, since this war is not in the benefit of our people, will you not respond to the martyrdom of your comrades?
Zilan Vejin: We will not remain silent and immobile; we will protect ourselves. The theory of self-defense does not say one should just stand to be beaten.
In your project, you strongly emphasized that the conduct of the parties must be transparent and truthful to the Kurdish people. I would like to ask you what criticism and suggestions have been made of your project this year?
Zilan Vejin: Our nation saw our project as a complete one. This is why I believe that our people perceived the truth of the Kurdish struggle. At the same time, they see the reality of the enemy. For this reason, I think people evaluate this project as appropriate. Those ten articles that we have proposed are not only for Rojhelat but for the whole of Kurdistan as the main point of the struggle. That’s why doing these things requires hard work and struggle. It will not be there in a day or two, it requires different struggles to get things done. Political forces have criticized us for not receiving their comments, and we have published the ten articles immediately before consulting them. But we first presented them to all other political forces and asked them to send us their criticism, or any other ideas. They could tell us to upgrade the project, to increase or decrease the points so far. No group has sent us any comments. But Khaled Azizi announced on a US-based Persian channel that they can form a joint diplomatic committee. This is in our project. We have been .talking about the project and its preparations for a year now.
Does it mean he propagates your proposal under his name?
Zilan Vejin: They can propagate it; we already invited them to create such a committee as a necessity for a long time. We are repeating this for a year. There has been some progress because they are discussing the establishment of such a committee.
Then there is a common point between you (PJAK) and other parties of East Kurdistan?
Zilan Vejin: Yes, that is correct but the most important point is to get together. We are criticizing and inviting them to come and reach an agreement on these 10 articles. We can add or remove these points together; the most important matter is to create a common will in East Kurdistan. The will of parties and political spectrums of East Kurdistan should be united. The hegemonic powers like the United Kingdom, USA, Russia, Turkey, and Iran must know, if they want to resolve the issue of Iran, they must first resolve the issue of the Kurdish nation. Any forces that want to make a new design in the Middle East, without resolving the Kurdish issue will not be able to achieve any goals. In East Kurdistan also without PJAK, the Kurdish issue will not be resolved and this is how our nation in East Kurdistan believe.
Ms. Vejin I would like to point out that part of your project that is about women’s situation, you mentioned women’s joint assembly must be established. How do you evaluate the importance of establishing women’s joint assembly?
Zilan Vejin: one of the main points of our project is regarding women’s join commission. We believe issues cannot be resolved if, in its resolution, women’s role is ignored. Because there is a unique perspective of women which can find a fundamental solution. One of the weaknesses of these parties is that they did not advance women’s will in their ideology. But with the guidance of ideology and philosophy of leader Apo and pioneering force like PKK, advancing women’s role became a model of life which involves women’s common will in every matter of life for instance co-chair leadership, one woman and one man. In East Kurdistan, the only political party that considers women’s importance as an essential will is PJAK. This is very important for us. We continue our struggle and we fight the powerful mentalities of the world. Lack of voice and existence of women in political parties of East Kurdistan is their main weakness. This means how low the solution force is among them. Solution force is the solution force of social issues not only solving political, diplomatic and military issues. Woman and man are two pillars of the society but nowadays these two essentials forces of the society have been divided. As a KJAR, KODAR, PJAK’s women assembly and co-chair (of PJAK) we always look at women’s will with dignity and respect. We always tried to unite the women. Recently KJAR announced a campaign “Let’s unite against violence against women, let’s fight, let’s be free”. As pioneer women, we invite all women to gather around this campaign so we can give a suitable resolution to the attacks.
Does it mean that you support this campaign as a PJAK member?
Zilan Vejin: All our movements in East Kurdistan support this campaign. We believe, if women’s will be involved in any social, political and military decisions, it can resolve the issues. In Rojava (West Kurdistan), the women’s force was obvious and we all saw that. Among YRK (East Kurdistan Units) forces, there is HPJ (Women’s Defense Units) which is a great and strong will. We have a great experience and we will fructify this experience with our nation’s will.
In the end, I would like to ask, as a PJAK co-chairman, how optimistic you are that your project is successful to gather all the forces and political spectrums of East Kurdistan under the umbrella of democracy and Kurds have their own united political and military will and as you mentioned Kurds have their own independent politics?
Zilan Vejin: Iran cannot skip from the inevitable changes that await it, no matter how much it tries to push away war from its borders, fight Kurds or continue the policy of dividing Kurds. We are also seeing Iran is in changing phase. There is a mentality among East Kurdistan political forces that an alien force is attacking Iran and resolving Kurdish issue, just like Iraq and Syria. As a PJAK, we are not agreeing with such a mentality. We say Kurdish nation’s issue will be solved with our force, project, and alternative. Therefore, it is very important for us as a Kurdish force to assemble under a democratic and free umbrella and prepare ourselves for any changes in Iran. We should not wait for any incident to happen; we must provide the required context for change itself. We also ask other pioneer forces like academics, intellectuals, and political figures to understand the importance of this phase and help us in gathering different forces and spectrums of East Kurdistan. Once again, I say, women’s force in political parties is indicative. Woman’s force should be beyond the party’s interest and be based on national and women interest. Women should play their role in unifying political parties. Women’s issue is the source of all problems, therefore there is a need for a women’s common front.
Thank you Ms. Zilan Vejin the co-chair of Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK) for participating and answering our questions. We wish your project, which is a national project to unify different spectrum of East Kurdistan success and victory.
Zilan Vejin: Thank you very much