Ekin Vartinik and Azad Axpanos from the General Command of TIKKO, who held a conference with the motto “Deepen at the People’s War, specialise in the guerrilla” in line with the decision taken by TKP-ML at the 1st Congress, answered the questions put to them.
Before moving on to the questions about the conference, can we briefly learn how you evaluate the situation in the country and the region?
Ekin Vartinik/Azad Axpanos: Before we begin, we commemorate those who immortalised in the struggle for revolution and communism with respect and gratitude and reiterate our commitment to their fight.
Azad Axpanos: Let’s start by emphasising that today we are facing a system crisis that no one can deny. As it will be remembered, the AKP, which is the main actor of the current crisis, made a series of promises within the scope of the restoration of the fascist Turkish state when it came to power. In particular, it is possible to list these promises under a series of titles such as the solution of the Kurdish national issue, confronting the past, and an inclusive new constitution. Of course, the falsity of these promises –which we already know- was soon revealed. On the other hand, when the AKP came to power, although it had a large mass base, it hadn’t been institutionalized within the state. At that time, the Kemalist clique, which still defined itself as secular in the state, had a serious weight and managed to come to power with its ever-changing alliances with the sections that took on the so-called “democracy train.”
In the economic field, a certain relief was created for the Turkish ruling classes on the basis of the interests of the imperialists, by privatising everything belonging to the public and stripping the oppressed masses with “15 laws in 15 days”, in the process that remembered as Kemal Derviş laws after the economic crisis in 2001. In the early years when it came to the government, AKP, by taking this wind behind it, succeeded in creating a false spring mood in the economic field.
We are telling by going so back because, in order to understand the situation AKP has reached today, it is necessary to analyse the conditions in which it was brought to work. Because today we are faced with the consequences of that process, fake democracy, and fake prosperity.
Of course, one of the reasons why these results are experienced so deeply, and the class contradictions become so clear is that the people are more aware, together with their shrinking bread, that they are not “in the same boat” with the ruling classes in the pandemic conditions. Remember the early 2000s, when neo-liberal winds, and therefore liquidationism, blew the hardest not only in our country but all over the world. In those years, bourgeois ideologists were trying to steer the peoples of the world out of the equation of oppressor/exploiter-oppressed/exploited classes and lead them to contradictions between identities, religions, cultures, and “civilisations.” Those who spoke of the class contradictions were viewed as foolish and even ridiculed. However, when we look at it today, the lies of these ideologues have been exposed one by one, and it has been clearly seen that the class contradiction and conflict continues as it has since the beginning of history and on the contrary deepens.
On the other hand, in addition to the economic and social crisis of the AKP-MHP fascist government, we see that the aggressive/invading foreign policy which was drawn through the contradiction between USA and Russian imperialists has collapsed at the present stage. The Ottomanism “game” of the government, cannot go beyond a dream, The Turkish Republic has come to a stalemate on its aggression and occupation against the entire Kurdish region, including Libya, Eastern Mediterranean, Ukraine, Caucasus, and Rojava in particular.
In fact, we can say that the “the collapse action plan”, which they brought to the agenda as a plan to destroy the entire opposition, especially the Kurdish national freedom movement on the National Security Council meeting held in 2014, was the beginning of their rapid collapse.
Ekin Vartinik: Even so, in terms of the Middle East, which is a large region that includes the country’s territory, the AKP-MHP government maintains its position as a nuisance to the peoples, and it will not easily leave the occupied lands here. Although the balance it has established with the USA and Russia is unsustainable, as an occupying force and with the gangs it feeds will not withdraw until the resistance of the people of the region is successful.
The attacks they have conducted against Kobane and Tall Tamr express the vengeful indigestion of the Turkish state and Erdogan towards Kobane. It also points to the effort to expand the occupation by measuring the reaction of the imperialists. However because of their arrogance, they forget that there is a great will and the reality of the people and war power that will not allow the invasion. The people of Rojava and their self-defence forces are showing a strong will to take back Afrin, let alone the expansion of the invasion.
Eventually, the defeat of Turkish State in the Medya Defence Zones, especially in Gare, Zap, Avasin and Haftanin, against the great resistance of the guerrilla pushes the Turkish state to become even more aggressive. The wounding of the enemy is not enough for us, as it stands, it has no choice but to become more aggressive, the only way is to crush it completely.
It is also necessary to mention the potential storms revealed by the issues we have mentioned in a paragraph or two. Although it is not possible for the people of the country to transform the anger created by the economic and social crisis into a collective consciousness and movement for now, an important opportunity and ground has been created for this. Although the streets do not catch fire, they are highly politicized. The agenda is the economic crisis, the low purchasing power, the rise in the dollar, the rich getting richer, the world of the mafia, the deep injustice, and the luxurious lives of those who run the country. Of course, this is also seen by the government. The fear of the uprising that will be created by the anger of the people pushes them to take various measures. It goes without saying, these measures are aimed at suppressing the anger of the people. On the other hand, other parties, defined as so called opposition, blamed the economic crisis entirely on the incompetence, corruption, etc. of the AKP government. It tries to prevent this anger from turning towards the system itself. However, it is not the AKP that has collapsed, but the existing bourgeois-feudal system itself, which is increasing the burden on the people day by day with neo-liberal policies. It is the revolutionaries and communists who will provide this anger to steer against the system.
How do you evaluate the actuality of the armed struggle in this picture?
Ekin Vartinik: Armed struggle or, in the most general terms, “violence” is an issue that remains valid as long as the class struggle continues. It is not possible for armed struggle to lose its validity as long as fascism continues as the main form of organization and administration of the ruling classes, as in our country. In this respect, making the armed struggle debatable means, at best, abandoning the class struggle. Both our party and our army are conscious of the necessity/obligation of armed struggle. We adopt the People’s War Strategy as the way to reach the People’s Democratic Revolution. Our strategy itself is, -as it’s seen in its name- a war strategy. In countries like ours or in countries occupied by reactionary collaborative states, this strategy remains viable. This is not even a matter of discussion. Especially where the armed struggle is mentioned in its most general form, the issue is ideological. This is one of the main dividing lines between reformism and Marxism. Marxism speaks of “the inevitability of organized force” to keep the wheel of history rolling forward.
On the other hand, the issue of war is not an abstract fact, independent of material conditions, on its own. On the contrary, it’s a dynamic, active, and constantly evolving phenomenon in itself. When we look at the last twenty years, it must be admitted that there have been some developments on the battlefield. War technology, in particular, is advancing rapidly. This situation also has a certain effect on the forms of war and the conditions of its conduct. But this should certainly not lead us to the “unfightable” theory.
Whether guerrilla warfare is valid or not is not a question to be explained by technical developments. Guerrilla warfare is a sustainable method of warfare under all conditions. If we understand guerrilla warfare as a style or method, we’ll see that it can be conducted in all periods and conditions. There are countless examples of this in the experiences of a number of countries and the Kurdish national liberation movement right next to us. The main issue here is how to create the appropriate guerrilla style in the face of new technical developments and how to apply it to our own conditions. This should be the most fundamental question. Today, guerrilla warfare is not waged under the leadership of communist parties that have adopted the People’s War Strategy alone. From national-based movements to petty-bourgeois revolutionary organizations and even a number of organizations that we define as reactionary, they are trying to implement and carry out guerrilla warfare as a form of war.
Guerrilla warfare, in its simplest form, is a method of weak and small force fighting against a more crowded, powerful, and well-equipped force. Guerrilla style does not have a single method and cannot be fit into certain patterns. Guerrilla warfare takes shape in the direction of whoever is leading it. However, guerrilla warfare also has some aspects that are common to all.
In communist parties like us that adopt the People’s War Strategy, guerrilla struggle plays a strategic role in starting the war and moving it forward. Guerrilla warfare has to adapt itself to the concrete conditions. Because given conditions do not always remain the same, they are in constant change and motion. Especially in the last ten years, the change in the given conditions has become more visible. Of course, the guerrilla cannot close their eyes to this situation.
What we mean by adaptation-update is the guerrilla’s proficiency at renewal of tactics. The guerrilla, who grasps the level of the technique and updates its tactics, accordingly, can achieve success. Of course, it is not only the guerrilla who will deal the final blow to the enemy. Because the People’s War Strategy is not just a strategy dependent on guerrilla warfare. More important and decisive is the organization and fighting of the broad masses, especially the working class, within this war. Guerrilla warfare becomes concrete in this. When we say that the most advanced technique is the people, we are emphasising something concrete. Strategic thinking is decisive. The more the masses are drawn into the battle, the more enemy technique will be wasted. The reason why technique is so exaggerated in the eyes of some is the disorganized and fragmentation of the masses. As we have said, technical development creates changes in the ways and styles of warfare, but the fate of the war is determined by the people. Whoever gets the people to his side wins. This applies to all wars, not just class struggle.
Moreover, the technique does not develop only in our region. Wherever there is a war, the efforts to improve the war technique are at the highest level. The rate of development of the technique on the battlefields is much more advanced than in other fields that affect the society. Because our enemies know very well that this war is the last bloody war. The Soviet and Chinese revolutions created a tremendous experience that showed the imperialist capitalist system their end and the future of humanity. Our adversaries have also learned their own lessons from this experience.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that while our enemy is attacking with the most advanced technology, we will act in the same way with primitive weapons. Guerrilla warfare must adapt and renew itself to the evolution of warfare. And this renewal is, of course, happening and will be. Being in a guerrilla-style has to do with the balance of power. For this reason, our Conference also emphasised the significance of “conscious people.” This is also discussed at our Conference.
We consider the conscious human factor in two ways. The first is the prominence of devotion and self-sacrifice in the relationship the guerrillas established between themselves and the struggle they waged; The second is that the guerrilla has the knowledge and skill of the technique. As in the proposition of the conscious person to stop a tank, only those who have knowledge of that tank can stop it. Of course, dedication to the fight alone cannot stop a tank, it is necessary to have knowledge of it. “Be both an expert and red,” says Comrade Mao. This is mostly the case for the forces waging guerrilla warfare.
War has an intelligence of its own. It is necessary to train commanders and warriors who can use that intelligence. Commanders who can use the mind of the war have a decisive role in determining the outcome of the war. It has always been so in history. Chairman Mao is not only an expert in the science of Marxism but also one of the most advanced minds histories has recorded on war.
The guerrilla struggle today needs more qualified humans than in previous periods. For this, the guerrilla units that are specialized in more than one branch and can develop tactics in the branches they specialize in are needed. We don’t consider the matter in terms of survival or simple existence. In fact, there are some requirements to be able to hold on in the war. Those who can meet these requirements can hold on. This kind of conceptualization means handing over the success to the other party at the beginning. It is necessary to act with facts, without turning the process into an agitative slogan. The main thing is to create a war style that can overcome the difficulties of this process. This is what Comrade Ibrahim describes as “small groups, big dares.” Add to this expressing, the groups that are more trained and equipped, more mobile, more initiative-taking than ever before. While the collapsible rifles we had at the founding of our party 50 years ago were enough to start the war, it is not enough today. There are other things to do today as well. We define this by prioritizing the qualified human factor.
Umut Axpanos: When we look at the world in general (not counting some exceptions), there are two ways where the war is progressing. The first type of war is the war that the sovereigns and imperialists are trying to develop, and the other type of war is developed by the communist movement, which takes Maoism as its guide. Maoism played a leading role in helping the working class and the oppressed to develop their own way of fighting. Until today, and today to a large extent, from India to the Philippines, Nepal and Peru, the ones closest to taking power from the bourgeoisie on the line of armed struggle and scaring the imperialists and their local collaborators on the line of armed struggle are the Maoists. People’s War Strategy has proven its adequacy that MLM has become a science of war. This is not accidental. It is the Maoists who will grasp the new forms of warfare, adapt them to the general logic of people’s war, and carry it forward.
Especially in the last 40-50 years, in parallel with the intensification of class contradictions, various forms of uprising and revolt of peoples have been witnessed all over the world. However, none of them achieved as great success as the People’s War practices developed under the leadership of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties. None of them came to a position where the people could seize power. The common features of countries such as Peru, Nepal, India and the Philippines are that they have the leadership of MLM parties and their ability to successfully apply the People’s War Strategy to the realities of the country.
We can observe this especially in the war practices of our comrades in the New People’s Army led by the Communist Party of the Philippines in the Philippines and the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army in India led by the Communist Party of India (Maoist). Why do we emphasize the examples of our fraternal armies? Because they also face similar technological developments and can carry out successful military practices against it to the extent that they can advance the bond they have established with the masses. The address where we will find qualified people and create the technique of war is the masses. The more we come into contact with the masses, the more qualified people we can create, as well as the technique needed by war. In this respect, our factory is the people. We must never give up on this truth.
Could you explain the process in the Medya Defense Zones and Rojava in more details?
Azad Axpanos: Yes, it would be good to emphasize this issue a little more. Because right next to us is the practice of war put forward by the Kurdish National Liberation Movement. First of all, it must be admitted that the Kurdish National Liberation Movement has made valuable contributions to the science of war. It has important and valuable contributions to guerrilla warfare in the Middle East geography. In the war waged with the Turkish army for years, it directly followed every stage of the war and renewed itself according to the forms it took. Especially in the war against ISIS, it carried the guerrilla war in the mountains to the plain and the city, and a great deal of experience was gained from there.
The Turkish army took a strong blow in the invasion attack it carried out against the Gare area. This blow taken by the enemy was of historical importance. It took place at a time when the enemy was making propaganda that the guerrilla could no longer stand against them, relying on the technique in their hands. In fact, the victory came at a time when the Minister of Interior of the Turkish Republic declared that they would carry out one or two more operations and destroy the guerrilla completely. Afterwards, the guerrilla gained significant success in areas such as Heftanin and Zap. The enemy had to retreat from some of the occupied areas.
These developments are the successes of the new type of war, which the PKK calls the new period of guerrilla warfare against the enemy. It must be admitted that after 2016, the enemy gained both military and psychological superiority for a certain period of time. Particularly in T. Kurdistan, the guerrilla struggles suffered heavy losses. As our party TKP-ML, PKK and MKP, we suffered significant losses in this process. However, it should be emphasized that this process has begun to reverse at the present stage. In this respect, the Gare victory was a breaking point. Guerrilla has taken an important step towards overcoming this with the new way it has created.
There are differences between the new period of guerrilla warfare, which we also adopt, and the past, in terms of certain characteristic features. Its most distinctive feature is the style of warfare, called team warfare, in which groups completely reduced in number and increased in quality. Today, the conditions for relatively large groups to act together, as in the past, have been eliminated. The PKK describes the guerrilla’s new-era course of action as “deep secrecy” and “fine camouflage”. It defines it as the war of groups organized in the style of a team that lives underground, acts as needed, whose contact with other groups is minimized, whose main job is to strike the enemy, whose technical knowledge and skills are advanced, and who can use these skills. Initiative and secrecy are characteristic of this period. The present technique of the enemy has given them a certain speed in using knowledge. The guerrilla is/must develop(ing) a method to adjust its speed accordingly.
This has always been the case; When the enemy developed a technique, certain losses were incurred in the process of the guerrilla’s perception and understanding of it, and the enemy took the initiative for a while; When the guerrilla solved the enemy’s technique-style and created its own style against the enemy, it was able to regain the initiative.
In the past, the underground system was mostly used for different purposes such as bases, camps, training places, etc. However, with the Gare process, the guerrilla tried to make the underground a battleground. Tunnels were prepared very widely for war. War tunnels are not actually used for the first time. For example, the Viet Minh and Vietnam People’s Army guerrillas used similar war tunnels in the US imperialism’s invasion of Vietnam. More recently, Hezbollah has also used the underground against Israel. Now we are witnessing PKK guerrillas using this method. On the night that connected April 23 to April 24, the guerrilla with tunnel warfare tactics inflicted serious blows on the enemy and suffered few casualties in the invasion attacks launched by the fascist Turkish Republic against Metina, Zap and Avaşin. Despite the very serious air attacks it carried out, the fascist Turkish Republic could not get what it wanted, and for this, it used serious amounts of chemical gas against the guerrilla, but the guerrilla was able to take precautions against it.
The war waged by the enemy is based on reconnaissance and intelligence. Although it mainly tries to make airpower the main element of war, its dependence on the ground continues. For this reason, the main goal of guerrilla warfare is to develop a way that will paralyze and destroy enemy intelligence. Without knowledge, the enemy’s technique will be useless. This is where the crux of the matter. In this respect, some of the relative achievements of the enemy are not in the effective use of aircraft, contrary to popular belief, but in the level of information-intelligence. In this respect, the technique has facilitated the conditions for obtaining information-intelligence. The mission of drones is essentially to gather information, intelligence, etc. HPG-YJA Star guerrillas have to some extent foiled this in the Medya Defense Zones.
The enemy has also come to a point where it cannot hide some of its failures against the guerrilla. So much so that the guerrilla’s defeat of the Turkish Republic in Gare and the resistance it showed in the war against the fascist army in Medya Defense Zones in general, cannot be hidden. The main reason behind the fascist state party CHP’s “no” vote for the resolution brought to the parliament by the AKP-MHP fascist bloc is the enormous resistance of the guerrilla. Otherwise, it is not that the CHP does not want war etc.
How would you summarize your experience of taking part in the war against the occupation in Rojava and the Rojava Revolution?
Ekin Vartinik: We can approach the combat experience of our force in two different ways. Our strength has gained significant experience both in the guerrilla war against the Turkish army and especially in the war against ISIS. We have done some work to learn about the new period guerrilla and increase its quality. Especially in this period, we followed a way that prioritizes quality and tends towards it.
\Although there are periods when our party has regressed from time to time, it has an uninterrupted war experience and history. It was able to bring itself to this day, especially in terms of the forms taken by the guerrilla struggle of the last twenty years. Of course, the losses we experienced after 2015 and the putschist liquidationist attack drew us back to a certain extent. However, our party continued on its way by insisting on the line of armed struggle in this process. As a matter of fact, every period has created its own cadres in parallel with the changes in the war situation. The military cadres of this process will also come to the fore by renewing themselves.
Our war with the Turkish state has never been interrupted. Our forces have always been at the forefront in the face of invasion-annexation attacks in the region. They experienced the possibility of following the war in its own development, in the war itself. In this respect, we consider ourselves lucky. It was the case to continue the war with different dimensions without being attached to a single form and to achieve a certain level in this.
Our guerilla force took an active part in the resistance against ISIS’s attacks on Kobane, gained serious experience in the war, and also became an important part and subject of the resistance together with other revolutionary organizations. By learning about the city war, both put this experience in writings and presented it to the party, as well as transforming the experience and gains in military training into training, enabling new fighter comrades to receive training. Apart from the Kobanê war, our force also participated in most of the attacks against ISIS. Especially during the war against ISIS, they gained serious experience in both city, village and terrain warfare, and they took certain steps in mastering the enemy’s techniques and tactics and learning from the enemy.
On the other hand, our guerilla forces fought in the front lines against the Turkish invasion of Efrin and then Serekaniye. They did not leave their positions. These wars had important contributions in shaping our power. In other words, our forces have learned to fight in a guerrilla-style in desert or plain areas. This is important. Previously, the military experience of our army was shaped in the Dersim or the Black Sea areas. These areas are both forested and mountainous lands. In this respect, it also provided some advantages to the guerrilla. But the mentioned areas are not like that. These are the places where tactical richness is needed more. These are the areas where the fast wins and the land is used in different ways. In this respect, the experience we have gained in these fields is a valuable contribution to the development of our war. In the Afrin and Serekaniye battles, there were serious shortcomings in the adaptation and preparation process of all military forces. Although the type and tactics of the war against ISIS and the war against the Turkish Republic were similar to a certain extent, a serious change was needed by making a “concrete analysis of concrete conditions”. In the war to be fought against the enemy, where the enemy has serious air superiority, can conduct reconnaissance and aircraft attacks 24 hours a day, and which has serious advantages in this sense, serious preparation and a serious change in ways and tactics were required. In short, a guerrilla-style was required. In this sense, our forces, which took part in the invasion attacks of the Turkish Republic, gained experience and lessons and gained an important qualification in all these positive and negative processes.
In short, our most important achievements in the region are the competence of our forces by taking an active role in various types of wars, the emergence of deficiencies and needs in practice, receiving training on these and returning to practice. This is a tremendous opportunity for a fighting force. Again, the contribution of the region is very positive in terms of receiving specialization training in various branches, researching and examining technical issues, and creating opportunities for deepening in these subjects.
We had the opportunity to concentrate on some branches and to turn it into action practice in areas we had never been concerned about before. Especially a military organization must be open to learning from both friendly forces and enemies. When this is not the case, when one does not know how to learn, a lack of development occurs. We think that we have taken important steps in learning and transforming what we have learned into a strength and quality in ourselves. In the region, our military force has now reached a certain level in establishing its own academies, providing specialized training, organizing certain original studies to concentrate on technical issues and a number of other military issues. Our presence in the region is also important in this respect.
Likewise, after the Serekaniye resistance in the guerrilla-style warfare in these areas, it renewed itself and made progress. If you remember, the head of the AKP announced that a new invasion would take place in early July, but then they could not afford a new invasion attack due to the advantages of the style developed by the guerrilla in these areas. In other words, both the developments in the Medya Defense Zones and the military developments in the Rojava area are developments that will feed and develop the guerrilla struggle.
How is your relationship with other armed groups in the region?
Ekin Vartinik: As it is known, our party and the KKB (women’s organization affiliated with our party, Communist Women’s Union) are part of HBDH (People’s United Revolutionary Movement) and KBDH (Women’s United Revolutionary Movement), which were established on the basis of an alliance by many armed organizations. In this respect, our relationship with other armed organizations is based on this alliance. These allied organizations are holding meetings frequently to think collectively and discuss ways to organize practice.
There are also dozens of armed organizations in the Middle East. Among them, there are progressive ones as well as reactionary structures that directly serve the counter-revolution. In particular, we attach importance to working with progressive organizations that embrace the armed struggle.
The fascist TC (Turkish Republic) is a state that has earned the enmity of the peoples of the region. A part of Medya Defense Areas, Syria and Rojava is under the occupation of the Turkish state. The peoples living on these lands were displaced and made refugees in their own lands. Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Armenians etc. are fighting against the occupation by forming their own selfdefence forces and armed forces against the invasion and annexation attacks of the Turkish state. This struggle is a progressive-revolutionary and just struggle. We also support this struggle. We care about fighting with these peoples against the fascist TC. We think that we have reached a certain base in the context of revolutionary friendship relations.
Could you tell us about your relationship with the internationalist fighters who took an active part in the Rojava Revolution?
Ekin Vartinik: I would like to start by commemorating Comrade Lorenzo Orsetti, who was martyred in our ranks in the fight against ISIS in Rojava.
Before moving on to our relationship with the international fighters, I see it as a necessity to state the following; Apart from TDH (Revolutionary Movement of Turkey), the international communist movement has little or no relevance in participating or supporting the Rojava Revolution. Not only the communist movement but also the movements that define themselves as “Marxists or Leninist” are in an apathetic position about the Rojava Revolution. Many internationalist comrades were martyred and injured in the formation, maintenance and defence of the Rojava Revolution. Most of the internationalist comrades who participated in the Rojava Revolution are individuals who define themselves as anarchists or progressive-democrats. Not just on the battlefield; In the construction of the revolution, the international comrades are doing their best.
We are fighting together with these comrades on the battlefields in Rojava. Many internationalist comrades, acting with our power in the region, receive military, ideological and political training, and take part in moves, operations and action practices with our forces. It is possible to say that many of them have had a successful process in getting to know our party, getting closer to it and organizing. Even if many of them return to their countries, they make an effort to maintain their ties with our party in the countries they go to.
Could you give some information about the Martyr Nubar Ozanyan Battalion? When and how was the battalion formed, what is its combat experience and approach?
Azad Axpanos: When ISIS gangs invaded Syria and Rojava and started to massacre people who did not obey them, everyone who realized that their ethnic and religious identity is in danger, especially the Kurdish people, formed their own military force on the basis of self-defence and started resistance. With the Rojava Revolution, the people who have been forbidden to organize around their common identities for a hundred years quickly organized. All political bans on Assyrians, Yazidis etc. have been lifted. In the past, this did not seem possible on Syrian territory. In this respect, the Rojava Revolution created an environment of freedom to a certain extent, especially for the minority populations.
At this time, it can be said that the only people that remained immobile on forming their own organization were the Armenian people. There are some historical reasons for this. The Armenian people continue to bear the traces of the 1915 Genocide. The Armenian people, who were exiled to Syria and survived, did not have their own revolutionary party. Among the Armenian people, the Dashnak and Hinchak parties were essentially organized. These parties are essentially pro-regime, submissive and afraid of even the idea of armed struggle. In other words, not only they did not organize against the regime, they did not even move a finger against ISIS barbarism. These parties have created a profit structure for themselves on the Armenian issue. Therefore, Armenians either participated in the war against ISIS on an individual basis or joined together with the Assyrians. The aforementioned parties still follow a pro-Esad regime policy to a large extent. At the same time, they do not accept and even exclude Armenians who were forcibly Islamized and who define themselves in this way at the current stage. In other words, they are presenting a hypocritical policy against the genocide issue.
Comrade Nubar Ozanyan, who broke the ice in this process, was martyred. After this, a part of the Armenian people started to turn their faces towards the Rojava Revolution. The idea of establishing the Martyr Nubar Ozanyan Armenian Battalion came to light after this. The battalion, which was initially formed around a narrow core, eventually became a military force where both Christian and Muslim Armenians came together and formed their own defence. In the battalion, Armenian young women are also organized in a unique way. They have organized themselves with their lives, commanders, education and reached a level of development. While mass activities are organized to recruit to the battalion, the female fighters in the battalion periodically give weapons training to women for selfdefence.
Martyr Nubar Ozanyan Battalion has shown that it is on the front against the invasion of TC. With some of the attacks it carried out during the Serekaniye occupation period, it became a battalion that inflict casualties on the invaders. The battalion is a part of the Rojava Revolution and its military establishment. Its main task is to defend the Rojava Revolution and protect its gains.
Within TİKKO, there is also the Communist Women’s Union (KKB), which was decided to be established at the 1st Congress of TKP-ML. What can you say about KKB and its work in the army?
Ekin Vartinik: After the establishment of the KKB, a KKB Committee was established within the army. Although this is a new experience for us, we try to approach it as a process in which we advance our discussions with the problems and needs that arise in practice.
All fighters and commanders within TİKKO are given training within the framework of KKB’s policies. Again, in the criticism-self-criticism meetings, the topic of women and LGBTI+ is always fixed. The KKB Committee deals with all specific issues regarding women and LGBTI+s, provides perspectives to the commanderships, and exchanges views in decision-making processes. Engaging in a discussion of authorization on these issues will not move us forward, but it may even lead to very backward discussions and understandings. Since there is no separate military organization yet, all discussions are held under the discipline of TİKKO. However, to emphasize again, the views of the KKB committee should be taken into account and reflected in the process and in the decisions to be taken as much as possible.
Military areas are the fields that require a lot of internal struggle, as it is an area where male domination, masculine language and behaviors can find a space and arise very quickly. In this respect, the KKB Committee conducts collective and individual discussions by giving trainings to the TİKKO time to time on this issue. The KKB Committee conducts its own internal training on the effects of gender roles on women and LGBTI+s and the forms these effects take in war and militarization. In addition, the Committee conducts these discussions also with women who are not included in the committee, and provides both ideological and military training to them in order to create an understanding that is more competent and positions themselves as the subject of war.
KKB Committee organized special trainings and meetings during the preparation process of the TİKKO Conference, conducted various discussions such as the masculinity that emerged in the war, the role of women and LGBTI+s, and the Regulation change and presented the results to our Conference.
How was the Conference you held, how did you organize the pre-preparation process?
Azad Axpanos: It would not be an exaggeration to say that we started the preparation process right after our party took the decision to hold a TİKKO Conference at its 1st Congress. Almost all of the conference agendas were organized with collective discussions, including the entire TİKKO structure. In this respect, it must be said that the views of each guerrilla comrade were reflected in the conference. While the TİKKO Regulation was being discussed with all its fighters, women and LGBTI+ comrades also organized various meetings, held special discussions and shared the results with the collective.
We discussed the conference preparation process in two parts. While one was in the form of serious concentrations, research, analysis and meetings within the framework of the agenda, the other was a specialization training, actions and front-line practices that would enable them to become militarily competent and develop themselves. At this point, I must say that our preparation process was successful. To a large extent, our forces have completed their specialization training, and they have gained significant experience by making arrangements and assignments to put their training into practice.
In this process, our forces took part in 4 actions against the enemy in a short period of time, the enemy suffered great causalities in 3 missile actions, and in the other sabotage action, the expected enemy vehicle didn’t arrive and then the bomb has been deciphered. Our comrades, who came from various military practices and trainings like this, added a serious quality to the conference. At our conference, all our comrades displayed a serious unity of will, word and action in expressing their views and in the practical implementation of the decisions taken.
Could you give brief information about the decisions you took or topics you discussed at the conference?
Azad Axpanos: Actually, we made some emphasis on the decisions we made in our speech. The issue we focused on was renewal. In general, there is a very important factor that distinguishes war from other issues. War never forgives those who do not renew themselves. You may lag behind the developments in the process in many areas. These may not have life-threatening consequences. But not so in war. When we don’t grasp the current situation of developments, the consequences of this can sometimes be severe in a way we don’t want.
For this, a renewal that will capture the process and the moment must be constantly placed on the basis of our military formation. Status quoism, habits, uniformity in tactics were among our diseases that pulled us back and caused us to suffer heavy causilities. We can say that raising cadres with a leading role who are creative in style-tactics, do not confine themselves to stereotypes, and can renew themselves quickly when necessary, has been at the center of our discussions.
We have taken a series of decisions ranging from how the People’s War strategy will be carried out in the future, to organizational forms of it and to the military line of the era. Here, we can say the experiences both guerrilla war we waged in Dersim and the the war we waged against ISIS and the invader Turkish state in Rojava were our starting points. Especially in the last fifteen years, since the emergence of some characteristic features of the war style of the new era, it has been very beneficial to see the future of these changes by experiencing these changes directly in the practice of the war.
The military line stands in a decisive place in conducting a war. Understanding the military line and adapting it according to the period constituted another one of the main topics of our orientation. In this respect, besides our general military line, our periodic military line was shaped in line with the orientation we put forward.
Our party congress laid the groundwork on which our general military line would be shaped. Both the main contradictions and our party program form the military line of our people’s war strategy. It is clear that the military line in the People’s War is the embodiment of the direct political line. Just as the path of the People’s Democratic Revolution is the People’s War strategy, the embodiment of the military line is the party program and the sum of the contradictions. In other words, military line has a character that covers the entire party action. The military line in the People’s War is the continuation of the ideological-political and organizational line of the party in line with a military strategy. Any military orientations that are not party-led and do not have the class character of the proletariat do not belong to us.
In our conference, besides the evaluations we made about the situation of the enemy, the situation of us and the friendly forces, we also focused on the mission of our army as a military within the current HBDH. Again, technique and the role played by the technique in the war and the methods of fighting against it were one of the important topics we discussed. The ways in which our guerrilla warfare uses technique was included in our agenda as a topic.
The impact of war, such as psychological warfare and special warfare, on the opposing forces and the masses in general, and taking concrete steps to fight against it and to enrich our own agitation-propaganda tools are also included in our decisions.
Again, one of our important steps was to update the TİKKO Regulations in line with the evolving needs of the war in accordance with the 1st Congress of our Party. This should be considered as an important step in the formation of the organizational backbone of our army.
At our conference, the decision of our Party on the minimum thirty percent women-LGBTI+ quota taken in the 1st Congress was also discussed and decided for all our executive commands in TİKKO. Our regulation was revised in line with our line of women and LGBTI+ freedom, which became clearer with the establishment of KKB, and regulations were made by adding appropriate articles.
Our decisions can be explained more broadly, but in the most general form, they can be summarized in this way.
Our conference became a place where our study of the problems of war was synthesized. As we have said, the issue of war should be based on concrete facts. Our starting point is to respond to the current needs of People’s Democratic Revolution and our Party. The concrete equivalent to our insistence on the armed struggle is the conference we held. When we look at the 50-year history of our party, we see its revolutionary persistence. Despite some periods of defeat and failure, insistence on the truth is the most important factor that distinguishes our party from others. Revolutionary persistence until the victory is the leaven for our militant stance. Our conference imposes serious duties on our army. But the success of this conference will be measured by the whole party’s embracement of the conference and its resolutions, and by the practical steps accordingly.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Ekin Vartinik: We wanted to coincide the public announcement of our conference with the Party and Revolution Martyrs’ Week and the 50th anniversary of our Party’s struggle. These two points are extremely important to us. TİKKO is an army that grows on the shoulders of those who have become immortal like our Party, with their insistence on armed struggle and People’s War. We will repay our debt to our immortals by making the revolution the success. Each of our immortal comrades adds value to TİKKO, whether they were martyred in the guerrilla or in different fields of struggle.
On the other hand, parallel to the fact that the main feature of the People’s War Strategy is carried out under the leadership of the Communist Party, our army TİKKO is also an army that fights under the leadership of our Party TKP-ML. We are proud to be an army affiliated with TKP-ML that still insists on the armed struggle and People’s War Strategy in its 50th year. No one should have any doubt that we will persistently and resolutely fulfill all the tasks assigned to us by our Party, our guide, inspiration and source of strength. We will carry out these tasks under its leadership, together with all the organizations and committees of our Party, in all fields of the struggle.