What can you say? Maybe a little  bit about yourself to begin with.

I am not a Gastarbeiter. I came to Germany with family when I was twenty. What is it when you come with family? My husband invited me. So no Gastarbeiter. I came and I learned German in a short time. And then I opened up a business. Import-export, that sort of thing. At one point I had three shops. And we were PKK partisans. That is to say, we were members of the PKK. Because of my husband. People would come round practically every week, every month to get money from us. We gave them fifty marks a month to begin with. But they wanted more and more. Soon it was two thousand marks, then it was five thousand marks. The sky was the limit. 

And then they organized festivals.

Newroz?

Newroz is something else. The festivals were something else. Newroz is new years, the festivals were something else.

The festivals were in Berlin.

No. Outside of Berlin. Frankfurt, Bonn, other cities. 

You went to them often.

Yes I was often at these festivals. I was in Bonn. That was for a demo. They organized many demonstrations in Berlin.

But what kinds of festivals were these?

Just to celebrate. You had to pay an entrance. They celebrate and make money at the same time. Everyone pays an entrance. The festival is not on the street. The festivals were in big football stadiums. They did everything there. Folklore, dancing, and all kinds of stuff. You just had a good time during these festivals. The weather was always nice. It was spring, May, June, July. I went to a number of festivals with my husband. 

And when the people knocked on your door, there was just one of them, or two?

There were two of them.

They were polite with you? They spoke in Kurdish?

Yeah, yeah, they were polite. They came and spoke in Kurdish most of the time.

What did they say? What would the money be used for?

The PKK had people in the mountains who needed to be fed.

Soldiers.

Yes, soldiers. PKK soldiers who were fighting against the Turkish army, the asker, and of course, they needed weapons. Who gives weapons? Germany gives weapons. America also gives weapons. We don’t really know this for certain, but we’ve heard stories. We have heard that Germany gives weapons.

Germany sells or gives?

Germany gives. The weapons arrive in big trucks. They give to Erdoğan and they give to PKK as well.  And then they fight it out against each other in the mountains.  No one knows who got what from where. They clear out villages and people have to leave their villages and farm houses and go to Istanbul. Or elsewhere. But no one knows who is doing this. Who is killing the people in Kurdish villages? Whether the PKK is killing the people. Or the asker (soldiers) are killing. No one knows, the asker say the PKK is responsible. The PKK says that the asker are responsible. Only God knows. 

And where you come from, your husband comes from Ayran (a small town in South-East Turkey, near the Euphrates)yes?

Yes my father and the father of my husband. They are from Ayran. My father is from Ayran. But I wasn’t born in Ayran, I was born in the Turkish area in Osmaniya.

Ayran is a Kurdish village?

Yes, and now presently it’s a mahalle of Biricik. It’s not a village anymore. 

And the people are all Kurds there?

All Kurds. There are no Turks in Ayran. But there are Turks in Biricik. Biricik has Kurdish villages. Turkish people also live in Biricik.

And were you sympathetic towards the Kurdish cause?

Yes. I always like to speak Kurdish. And I have a few friends – former classmates, I like to speak Kurdish with them. But in my family no one speaks Kurdish.  My siblings don’t know how to speak Kurdish. No one speaks Kurdish with me. 

And the money that you gave the people, that was your money, or your husband’s money.

Yes, well, one doesn’t differentiate. We were all in the same pot. We ate from the same pot, so to speak.

And what would happen if you say, no, we’re not going to give?

They say, you have to give. 

But how can they force you to give the money?

They say you have to give. And that means you have to give.  And we gave. But now that my children have grown up, I said, I’m going to keep my distance from these people. I moved somewhere else. 

How did you manage to keep your distance?

I said, “My husband doesn’t live here any longer”. They rang our bell. They wanted to collect money again.

Was this when you were living in Sonnenallee?

No, Spandau. They knew that we lived there. Yes, and then we moved to Spandau, and I said, he doesn’t live here anymore, and I didn’t let them in. I  kept them away from my children. Now my children don’t pay.

Did they approach your children?

No.  They understood, I think, that we didn’t want to pay anymore.  They know that I live here, but they know that I don’t want to keep on donating. And so they don’t come anymore. 

But you told me that if you don’t want to pay they can resort to violence, or bust up your shop.

They did this to other people. 

Did you hear such stories?

Yes, I heard about it. They burnt down someone’s imbiss.

Where was that, in Neukölln?

Outside of Berlin.

West Germany.

In the east. I heard such stories, but we were in west Berlin and nothing happened to us. They couldn’t do anything like that in Neukölln. It would be highly risky. In the east, no one is around to witness it. I heard that something like this happened. 

What happened, later you lost your sympathy for the cause?

I just wanted to keep my children away from them. I have two sons. I didn’t want them involved. I heard stories that in some families, they took the boys and brought them to the mountains. That would be the end of the world if they took my child to the mountains.

What do you mean?

To go to the mountains to fight against Turkey.

They could force your children to fight?

Of course. They could say, “Come with. You’ve got to go there.”

Do you know of any instances?

I know of a girl – I know her personally. A girl went, and then a boy went. 

Can you tell me a little bit more?

The boy went. That was about 25 years ago. And also there wasn’t any contact with the parents. The mother cries constantly.  She says she just wants to know if he is alive or is he dead. But no one knows a thing. And a girl has also gone. 

They were neighbors of yours?

Acquaintances. 

And back then you were favorably predisposed towards the PKK?

In the beginning we said OK, and then in the end we said, no, it can’t go on.

Your husband was also of the same opinion?

Yes.

So he changed his mind?

No, he still hasn’t changed his mind. He still continues to support them. 

Did you have arguments with your husband about this issue?

No. I gave him the leeway to do and think what he wants. 

And he continues to give money.

He continues to give money. He’s still a partisan. 

In which year did you separate?

2004. Since 2004 I haven’t seen him. I heard that they found our address, but I made it clear that we didn’t want anything more to do with them.

What do you think about the PKK today?

Naja, they have been fighting for seventy years.  But in the time being, so many things have changed. Back in the 90s, speaking Kurdish was forbidden. Singing was forbidden. Now there’s Kurdish TV channels. Speaking’s not forbidden anymore.  But at the same time there’s no Kurdish schools.  Since the 90s you can do everything. You can speak and you can sing in Kurdish. It’s all become a little better. 

And now I heard that forty percent of Erdoğan’s cabinet is Kurdish. Is that true?

I don’t know anything about that. 

But he wants to work together with the Kurds, or?

I don’t know. I don’t know what Erdoğan thinks.

You told me of instances of journalists who were killed by the PKK.

But no one knows who did that. No one does aside from God. Uğur Mumcu, who wrote for Hürriyet. He wrote something about the Kurds, and then they planted a bomb in his car, and he died. But no one knows who did it. This guy, Musa Anter – he is also a writer and journalist. He was also in Diyarbakır, and they also killed him. But no one knows who it was. That sort of thing often happens in Turkey.

What percent of the Kurdish people in Berlin support the PKK?

All of them. They have to. 

Your village as well.

Yes. 

But it’s illegal.

Yes.