PKK Violence and Kurdish Identity Abraham Alshawish His 482 Professor Forbes Firday, May, 15th, 2009 Introduction The question that is the missing piece of the puzzle for peace in the Middle East is asked by very few: Will the Kurds ever have a state of their own? When one looks at the Middle East post World one, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, one sees the formation of countries like Trans-Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Lebanon, and other nearby regions. Colonial powers had promised lands to a variety of tribal leaders throughout the region but one- the Kurds.
This semester we had the chance to explore questions that are vital to the understanding of this course. Questions such as: what is a terrorist? How do we define terrorism? What is state terrorism? How does one become a terrorist? Why does one choose the path of a terrorist? When and why do women involve themselves in terrorism? Throughout the search for these answers we saw a change in our own perspective of terrorism and for some we even reached a new understanding of why people do the things they do in the name of freedom, religion, or any ideology for that matter.
We learned that terrorism is a tactic that has been used by many groups of people throughout the centuries and for some of these groups, they now sit in power and run governments they created through terrorism. As a class we formed our own definition of terrorism since there is no universal definition of the term. The definition we agreed stated that: Terrorism is a tactic or method employed by individuals and groups in resistance to a state or in service of a state to effect or prevent social and/or political change.
It includes the premeditated use of violence or the threat of violence to systematically induce fear and anxiety in a civilian population. Considering the above definition and researching about the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), I realize that this definition of terrorism labeled the PKK a terrorist organization. Like many students, I found myself looking at terrorism through a new lens. I realized, without a doubt, the PKK fits the description of a terrorist organization and they use terrorism to achieve more rights and the chance to create a homeland.
After reading many facts behind the PKK, other than being labeled as terrorists, they define themselves as an anti-colonial, nationally oppressed people that have taken arms due to a lack of rights and ill treatment by the Turkish government which has made them want their own land. From the above statement one can easily state that they are a secessionist movement that wanted to have their own land to govern and rule from the south eastern area of Turkey which they would rename Kurdistan. Thesis The PKK was good for the Kurdish people in the sense that it revived a sense of Kurdish identity in a people that were insecure of themselves.
The violence of the PKK against the Turkish government incited Kurds to look into their roots and strengthened their identity as a people, and that was a good thing, however, the tactics the PKK took under the guise of being an oppressed people that wanted freedom did not justify the innocent civilian cost and infrastructure damage they inflicted in Turkey. One can easily sympathize with the plight of the Kurds after reading the many illegal laws that worked against them in Turkey and assault they endured, but the PKK was more hurtful to the Kurdish people than beneficial.
My argument for this paper is that if a minority or ethnic group is oppressed in a democratic society, then terrorism can be a method that can strengthen an identity of a people, however, it does not help achieve long term political goals and does more harm than good for a people in the long run. Since the majority of Kurds inhabit Turkey, this research paper will focus on the endeavors of the Kurdish people in Turkey through the time period of when the PKK was formed, 1978, till the capture of its beloved leader, Abduallah Ocalan in 1999. Who are the Kurds?
The Kurds are an ancient Indo-European language speaking people who live in a region covered with mountains. They have lived throughout the centuries in an area that they call Kurdistan, which takes up a large part of eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, northwestern Iran, and smaller parts of northern Syria. The Kurds have been without a state of their own since 550 B. C. yet they are believed to be one of the most numerous people in the Middle East. Kurdistan is not a recognized state but it is a land that the Kurdish people call home for thousands of years.
One of the most notable figures throughout Kurdish history is the famous Kurdish warrior Saladin, who was once the Sultan of Egypt and Syria who also led the Islamic opposition to the third crusade. The Kurds have never had an official country or empire to themselves and have always worked with the empires that ruled over them. Regardless of the fact that the Kurds have never really had sovereignty over themselves, throughout the hundreds of years that people have ruled over them, the Kurds have always maintained their own culture, language, customs and identity .
Prior to World War I, Kurdish life was nomadic, revolving around sheep and goat herding around the Mesopotamian plains and mountains of Turkey and Iran. The breakup of the Ottoman Empire after the war created a number of new nation-states, but not a separate Kurdistan. Kurds, no longer free to roam, were forced to abandon their traditional ways. The transformation of the Ottoman Empire to a homogenous nation-state had an adverse reaction within Turkey. This reaction was the resistance and formation of identity within the many ethnic communities with the former Ottoman Empire.
Mustafa Kemal, the first president of the newly reformed Ottoman Empire, now named Turkey, embarked on a program that would change the country socially, politically, economically, culturally and ultimately wanted to transform the former Ottoman Empire into a modern, democratic and secular nation-state. At the time, the Kurds were a people of many different tribes and communities that on the outside identified as Kurds on a large scale, but their loyalty remained within the particular tribe they identified with due to different religions, culture, language differences, etc.
From the transformation of the empire and the building of a new Turkish identity, the Kurds felt alienated and not a part of the new Turkish state which had laws that worked against them. It was at this point in history many Kurds started to form a new identity and the catalyst for this collective and growing identity was due to the PKK. The kurds are mainly Sunni Muslims with a few communities among them that adhere to Shia Islam, Judiasm, Yazdanism, and Christianity .
Kurds are different than the majority of other Muslim regions in that they don’t dress like Muslims around the regions that have traditional Islamic garments, but choose to practice Islam as many would describe as “lightly. ” Most of the women do not cover their faces, arms, or hair like other Muslim countries. The Kurds were once considered major allies to the Ottoman Empire but as nations evolve and change so do friendships and ties. The once Ottoman Empire that befriended the ancient Kurds, which have now become Turkey in modern day has treated the new generation of Kurds as secondary citizens.
A brief history of Kurds within Turkey The Kurds have been fighting for independence ever since Britain and France defeated the Ottoman Empire (now named Turkey) along with Germany since World war one. At the time of the First World War, the Kurds were “clearly well behind in development as compared to the other national movements within the Ottoman Empire, notably in the Balkans and eastern Anatolia. It was the political inability of the Kurdish movement at the time to seize the historic opportunity which presented itself during the brief period of political vacuum from 1918 to 1920, following the collapse of the Empire. It is because of the lack of leadership, organization and the elite of Kurdish society being what many would describe as “backward” that has weighed heavily on the course of Kurdish national independence. There have been many uprisings in all the regions where Kurds inhabited in the Middle East but most of their action has taken place in Turkey, which is the only democratic nation that the Kurds live under. The discrimination, prejudice, lack of rights and fear over the years have lead many Kurdish individuals to take up the question that their parents could not answer: When will the Kurds have a land that they can call their own?
Kurds were once not allowed to speak their own language in Turkey or celebrate their own customs. They were not allowed to establish their own schools or any type of institution that would foster a sense of Kurdish identity. () In an article I found under the New York Times archive of 1978, Nicholas Gage who is a writer for the NY Times, described the treatment of the Kurds as: Adopting a policy of ‘Turkification’ toward the Kurds under which the use of the Kurdish language, even the singing of Kurdish songs, is a crime.
Some politicians deny that the Kurds exist at all and refer to them instead as ‘mountain Turks’. The Kurds believe that the Turks are determined to destroy their culture, language and ethnic identity. From the following quote one can obviously acknowledge that during this time period, intense discrimination under a systematic policy towards the Kurds was apparent and harsh. Context The PKK was founded in 1978 by Abdullah Ocalan, a Kurdish Ankara university dropout, in the village of Urfa, Turkey.
Ocalan, along with several other Kurdish students realized that Turkey was never going to allow the Kurds to have self rule and after seeing the many failed attempts at gaining any concessions in the Turkish parliament by Kurdish officials, he motivated and organized his fellow Kurdish students and friends to form the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party). From the founding year till early 1984, the PKK was preparing itself for the many guerrilla battles it expected with Turkish military forces.
They moved their headquarters to the Becca vallay of Syria and began training Kurdish guerrillas. The financing, organization, and idea of self rule impressed many Kurds at the time, who were still adhering to the old tribal mentality of traditional Kurdish way of life, and later resulted in a wide support of other Kurds in Turkey. At this point in time, the final decade of the Cold war was reaching and many of the countries allied with the former Soviet Union were feeling the repercussions of the ongoing conflict, tension and competition between the United States and the Soviets.
The former Soviet Union influenced the PKK in terms of their ideology and for Kurds at the time, “the Marxist-Leninist rhetoric of the PKK was anathema to their Muslim way of life. ” For many Kurds not affiliated with the PKK, Marxism was not an ideology that the Kurds looked to live by. Years ahead of the PKK would prove otherwise as the organization and its leaders, mainly influenced by Abduallah Ocalan, embraced a Marxism- Leninist ideology for its organization. Ideology As the world was changing, so were the Kurds in the way they perceived themselves.
The ideology of the PKK is a combination of Marxism-Leninism and Kurdish nationalism. From Marxism, they believed that they could be the possible perfect socialist state that many Kurds wanted and even some Turks. Initially, Marxism was the road the PKK was taking but that ideology has been discarded as the PKK evolved, and since the capture of Abdullah Ocalan, into taking a more peaceful and civilized route of achieving their political aspirations. Marxism did not really have a lasting influence with Kurds because it is of no importance to Kurdish goals or mentality now.
However, because of Marxism, and the way its leader viewed its enemy, it labeled the Turkish establishment as an anti-colonial, oppressive regime that would go to any extent to eradicate any form of “Kurdishness. ” From its early years, the PKK wanted to establish an independent Marxist Kurdish state. They were supported by the former Soviet Union and its allies until the fall of the communist state. The PKK was a left-wing organization that has always perceived Turkey as a nation corrupted by capitalism and adversely altered by being influenced by the west.
The PKK on many occasions has defined itself primarily on Kurdish nationalism as its ideology but when researching about the early leaders of the PKK, many favoring marxism were not Kurds at all in ethnicity but actually Turkish. Some of the founders of the PKK that were of Turkish origin had only one common interest with the Kurds—Marxism. There were many Turkish people from all levels of society that embraced Marxism in the early 1970’s in Turkey and believed that capitalism was going to ruin the legacy and history of the Turkish people.
The Kurdish elite felt that Marxism was a solution to many of the Kurds’ problems, so both groups saw each other as allies under this ideology. In line with their Marxist ideology, the PKK and its leader did not have any official adherence to a specific religion but they used religious sentiments to gain support in the region where strong Islamic faith persists. For example, a former mufti (Islamic spiritual leader), Abdurrahman Durre in the PKK controlled Kurdistan area has led “Kurdistan Islamic Movement” to organize people on the basis of Islam.
The PKK has also used organization names such as “Imams’ Association of Kurdistan”, “Patriotic Imams’ Association of Kurdistan”, “ERNK Imams’ Association”, and “Patriotic Ulama’s Association of Kurdistan” to carry out religious propaganda activities. The power of pro-Islamic movements in the region helps the leader Ocalan into close relations with extremist pro-Islamic organizations which resort to violence. Throughout the past two decades Marxism had a big affect on the organization but not a lasting one.
On January 1995, Kurdish representatives from different regions within Kurdistan, congregated and discussed the importance of ideology in the life of Kurds and the importance of the PKK in the progress of socialism across the globe. In the two major documents that emerged from that congress, the ‘Brief History of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)’ and the ‘Party Program of the PKK,’ the organization portrays itself as the “vanguard of the global socialism movement, even though the Party hasn’t yet come to power. Perhaps to shore up its claim to the leadership of socialism internationally, the program states that “the PKK from the very beginning tried to enlist support in other countries; that ‘a new phase of socialism’ has begun; and that the PKK is the embodiment of one of the most significant socialist movements during this new phase. ” The PKK no longer is pushing for this agenda of socialism but just wants to gain better freedoms that all people within Turkey enjoy. When Ocalan was captured on February 1999, the PKK took a different turn in terms of its ideology and method of trying to communicate to the international community.
In jail, Ocalan began to read books on many different types of ideologies and beliefs and preached a different route for the PKK to take in order to achieve some type of success. In March 2005, Ocalan released from jail the “Declaration of Democratic Confederalism in Kurdistan” which states a border free zone between all Kurdish regions and the process in which to achieve this goal is by democratic and civil means. Many members of the PKK have embraced this new declaration but the PKK still believes in having a military wing within its organization.
Prior to this change, one can easily see that Marxism was deeply embedded within the thought process of the PKK as portrayed in the records of its congress. The PKK as identified itself as a warrior organization. It declared the Turkish republic as its official enemy which they accuse of decades of abuse, oppression and colonialism. The concept of colonialism was formed by its Ocalan as part of his Marxist analysis of the situation in order to legitimate his recruits for fighting for the Kurdish cause.
Through Ocalan and the adopted Marxist ideology, the organization has rationalized the armed struggle as an anti-colonial war against the Turkish republic. This rationale has made the organization’s moral disengagement from all acts of terror and violence. When Ocalan was captured in 1999, probably due to his death sentence, he called for the Kurdish people to abandon their violent and terroristic ideology to democratic ideals that would help the Kurdish people gain a better process in achieving their goals.
Researching this organization’s ideology made me realize that the PKK did not really have any political and economic system that was detailed if they achieved their goal of an independent Kurdistan through violent measures. The PKK has never shown any indication of intellectualism in their ideology or how they believed their goals would manifest in the future- it was a strictly violent organization that believed that they cannot reason with the Turkish state and need to force their agenda to get their goals accomplished.
Goals In regard to the PKK’s goals, it has changed from the very beginning of its formation. Its primary goal in its early years was to form an independent Kurdish state in southeast Turkey, northern Iraq, and parts of Iran and Syria. This was its long term goal in its early years but that has now changed since the capture of Abdullah Ocalan in 1999 when many members and Ocalan himself decided that winning greater civil rights and some level of autonomy would be better.
The Kurds’ goals have changed many times throughout the conflict with Turkey, so it is for this reason that this paper will be focusing on a specific time period to paint a picture of what the Kurds wanted. The time period that this essay will focus on is from 1978 till the capture of its leader, Abduallah Ocalan. This is the perfect time period to discuss in this research paper due to the fact that we can compare how their goals have changed from the PKK’s early years till the capture of their leader.
The PKK and its officials believe that the Turkish government does not want to grant them rights unless they lose their Kurdish identity and assimilate and by doing this they will in effect throw out their goals of having laws and rights specifically for Kurds and ultimately lose the idea of an independent Kurdish state. One of the goals that the PKK has done pretty successfully is prove that no Kurdish official who is not part of the PKK can gain any concessions or rights through conventional Turkish political means. The PKK has spread a lot of propaganda and literature to the majority of the Kurdish population in
Turkey and when Kurdish officials failed to gain any grounds in politics, the people look to the PKK for hope. They have assassinated a number of Kurdish parliamentary officials to leave only the PKK as the hope of the Kurds and this was a goal that they had set from the very beginning of their organization. One of their long term goals, in their early years of the PKK, was to unify all Kurds within the different regions that they inhabit in the Middle East. One goal that Turkey has been trying to achieve for the past decade is to join the European Union.
The PKK has realized that if they ruin the image of Turkey by showing the international community many of Turkey’s abuses and mistreatment of the Kurds, then Turkey will not be able to join the European Union. Iraqi Kurds and the United States have had good relations for many years and especially since the ousting of Saddam Hussein. The PKK has realized that if they drag Turkish forces into a fight with Iraqi Kurds then what they would be doing as a result is changing the image of the Turkish-American alliance to a Turkish-American conflict.
The goal is to force Turkey into a corner within the international community, to severe Turkish-European Union relations and to isolate Turkey at the U. N. Also, the PKK figures that if “Turkey mounts a military operation and strikes at specific targets in northern Iraq then pro-Barzani and pro-Talabani Kurdish groups (groups that are not necessarily on the same agenda as the PKK) will unify with the PKK and turn the PKK into a legitimate body within a common Kurdish front.
The aim here is to turn the ‘Kurdish reality in Turkey’s southeast’ into a ‘Middle East problem’ akin to the ‘Palestinian problem’ and put it on the world’s political agenda. ”5 During the last war with the U. S. and Iraq, Turkey refused the offer by the U. S. to offer any assistance in Iraq “because they see that the war has helped enhance the Kurds’ political leverage in Iraq, while the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party presence in northern Iraq has escaped U. S. occupation untouched. 6 The short term goals of the PKK have been constantly changing each time an incident occurs. All the goals are relatively the same (to make Turkey look horrible to the international community, to achieve political and economic autonomy, self determination, etc) that they have been fighting for and the only difference is that when an incident occurs, whether it is coming from Turkey, Iraq or any other region, they shape their plans to fit their ultimate agenda. In the past decade, owever, especially since the capture of their leader Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK has been pushing for something totally different than what they originally set out to achieve from their birth- “a border free confederation between the Kurdish regions of Turkey (called “Northwest Kurdistan” by PKK), Syria (“Small part of South Kurdistan”), Iraq (“South Kurdistan”), and Iran (“East Kurdistan”). In this zone, three bodies of law would be implemented: EU law, Turkish/Syrian/Iraqi/Iranian law and Kurdish law. ” Unfortunately, even this goal has been discarded.
Currently the PKK is just looking for cultural autonomy and better rights within Turkey and if the opportunities pop up, like in Iraq, they will cease the opportunity in a heart beat. They were very discouraged as an organization when their leader was captured and felt helpless by calling for a ceasefire with Turkish forces when Ocalan was captured. Organization The Organizations foundations was mainly founded in Syria and the Bekka valley of Lebanon in order to escape the pressures that were brought to bear upon the Kurdish organizations following the 1980 coup in Turkey.
It is these settings that the PKK grew, organized internationally, and trained in guerrilla tactics and sabotage. It is Syria and where development of the organization was formed and found allies (Syria, various unknown leaders in Iraq and Iran) in the middle east and elsewhere. The PKK have knitted a strong tight umbrella network of mini networks across Europe and the Middle East. There are networks of Kurdish people around Europe who communicate in telephone chains and are close to the PKK, and these disciplined networks are capable of launching violent protests on a pan European scale.
They attack simultaneously in various European countries and attack Turkish economic and political targets. Nothing they do is spontaneous, and all is decided jointly. Through researching about the PKK’s organizational strength, An article I found that really displayed the impressiveness of its organization stated that Ruediger Hesse, a spokesman for the internal security department of the German state of lower Saxony, stated that most PKK militants live in Germany and are estaimated to have about 11,000 militants. Mike Amitay, director of the Washington Kurdish institute stated hat “ the reason why the PKK wont die now is because it is a multimillion- dollar business” The PKK’s annual budget is estimated at approximately 86 million dollars a year. The PKK receives money from many different methods. It receives private donations, from organizations and rich individuals from around the world. A good amount of these supporters are Kurdish businessmen in south-eastern Turkey, sympathizers in Syria, Iran and Europe. The PKK’s organizational qualities are reflected by the Kurds’ past history of how they saw themselves as a people and how they interacted amongst each other.
They are an armed, ethnic, nationalistic, absolutist in their rulings, and hierarchal organization. They are a people armed with heavy weaponry that wants to unite all kurds in a larger Kurdistan. Its rules were equal to religious dogma. Disobedience meant execution. In fact, researching about the character of this organization made me realize that Ocalan’s character and the way he influenced his organization is no different than the way Saddam Hussein , Lenin, Stalin, Hitler and other dictators ruled- all who were communistic and authoritarian in their actions.
Only the leaders made rules and rewards and punishment is how Ocalan governed. The PKK has one leader and there is absolutely no second or third man. Everything is reported to the leader and all that he said was the law. No vetoing was allowed in rulings. It recruited most of its militia from the villages and towns of southeast Anatolia. Lots of their recruits are children of immigrants in European cities. The organization formed a lot of its qualities from the Kurds’ past tribal mentality and local characteristics reflected upon its structure.
It is built and functioned as a political tribe. It does not rely on any religion except in passing. Through this atmosphere, members become dependent on the organization and on their leader to tell them what to do, how to live, and how to die. The PKK is a way of life to all its members, unfortunately leaving no room for privacy and individualism to its members. Support It is believed also that the PKK earns money through the sale of PKK literature or publications as well as receiving large amounts of money from businesses owned by the organization.
The PKK is also heavily involved in drug trafficking and are involved with the trade themselves. It is very much involved in the European drug trade. Many law enforcements in France have estimated that the PKK smuggles 80% of the heroin in Paris. Many of the PKK’s leaders who make the really important decisions are really not known too well. Their recruitment process is quite large and impressive but it is out of hope and a better life for many Kurdish families that Kurdish kids join the PKK.
The Kurdish youth are promised a fair amount of money for their family if they join the PKK, but further research has shown that many youth that joined the PKK often warn family and friends back home not to join the PKK and it is a huge mistake if they do and out of fear of losing their lives they rarely ever leave the organization or run away. The PKK receives support from Kurds “in the U. S. , within the EU, where it recruits militants and raises funds. The PKK has Kurdish satellite television stations (such as ROJ-TV), which Turkey claims has links with the PKK, to operate in Denmark and broadcast into Turkey. It has also been argued that the Netherlands and Belgium have supported the PKK by allowing its training camps to function in their respective territories. On November 22, 1998, Hanover’s criminal police reported that three children had been trained by the PKK for guerrilla warfare in camps in the Netherlands and Belgium.
The PKK has developed links with paramilitary groups among other ethnic groups which has harbored “historic grievances against Turkey such as the ethnic Armenian ASALA (Armenian terrorist group) as well as groups which shared its left-wing nationalist ideology such as the Palestine Liberation Organization, ETA, and to a lesser degree the Provisional Irish Republican Army. ”12 Through the large Kurdish immigration in Germany, it has also formed close contacts with violent left-wing political groups in that country.
From early 1979 to 1999 Syria had provided valuable safe havens to PKK in the region of Beqaa Valley. During the 1990s, Iran provided PKK with supplies in the form of weapons and funds. In addition, the retired Greek army General Dimitris Matafias has paid numerous visits and offered assistance. The PKK’s assistance in the form of money, training, land to train guerrillas are very impressive considering the history of who the Kurds were a few generations ago. Tactics
The attacks by the PKK within Turkey and against Turkish military forces according to PKK leaders are justified due to the “mass violence by Turkish state on the Kurd identity. ” The PKK firmly believes that Turkey wants to eradicate the Kurdish identity and language through a systematic and non violent means through policies that Turkey inflicts upon Kurdish villages. “Since the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923, successive governments have tried, with occasional respite, to eradicate manifestations of Kurdish nationalism and identity.
Use of the Kurdish language, especially written Kurdish, was at times unofficially and sometimes officially banned. Whole villages were uprooted and people relocated, history was rewritten to treat Kurds as ‘mountain Turks,’ people who forget their Turkishness while living in inaccessible and remote mountain villages. While the degree of repression always fluctuated, the overriding policy was one of forced assimilation. The Turkish government at times wanted to forget about the Kurdish issue so desperately and hide the truth behind the Kurds issue within its population, that at one point it jailed a Turkish sociologist, Ismail Besiki, who spent over ten years in prison for his attempts to explore and chronicle Kurdish life in his country. As sad as it is to acknowledge, many concessions gained by the Kurds were given to them by terroristic activities by the PKK, it is undeniable to state that many of the cultural and nationalistic freedoms Kurds gained within in Turkey was by no other means but PKK terrorism.
Before the PKK increased in its terror activities, many Kurdish civilians even within Turkey were scared to show their Kurdish pride or identity. One example I came across that really shed light at why there was so much belief in justification for terrorism through the Kurdish population was from a quote by a 31 year old Kurdish Truck driver, who said that in 1990 he was tortured and spent a month in jail for having a Kurdish music cassette, and stated that it was not an unusual story for Kurds to go through this in many parts of Turkey.
He stated that “in a way, the government made the PKK as strong as it is today, the security forces think it’s a solution that if they torture us and kill us that they will convince the people to stop being Kurdish but they don’t understand that when they kill us and treat us like this they make more enemies. ”11 From this quote, one can see why many Kurds would support the PKK and feel like they have no other choice. The increase in violence in discrimination by the Turkish government against Kurdish nationalism has worked against them and that is the sole reason why the PKK has grown so ast and huge attracting all walks of Kurdish life and many sympathizers from non-Kurdish backgrounds. After 1990, Turkey officially took the ban off a lot of bias and discriminating policies towards the Kurdish people. The Turkish government realized that the damage that the PKK has inflicted on Turkey was overwhelming and since it wanted to join the European Union, it needed to change their treatment of the Kurds if they want to look good and civil to the international community. PKK fighters usually operate in mountain regions near the Iraqi-Turkey border.
The mountainous terrain of the regions gives the PKK an advantage from hiding from Turkish military forces. One of the PKK’s tactics that they are known for when Turkish forces come to their regions is the mine bombs that they plant. They use a lot of hide and seek military tactics, much like the Taliban utilizes in Afghanistan. They blend well within many cities in Turkey and Iraq so it is hard for many people to capture them. Another tactic they are known for is unpredictable bombings throughout varies Turkish cities and embassies in Europe.
Towards the government the PKK has assassinated many key figures, used sabotage to humiliate individuals, they kidnap, use chemical warfare, they bomb police outposts and compounds, kill village guards, kidnap and assassinate tourists and civilians, and bombed tourist facilities. The PKK did “change its methods at many times throughout its activities because the group realized that some of its actions were alienating Kurds. It also had achieved dominance over the handful of other groups that had sought to gain followers. ” Target/Target Audience
They PKK target many political figures in Turkey as well as abroad. They have assassinated many key figures in Turkish society that has tainted the PKK as a radical organization and an international terrorist group. The PKK targets many types of individuals within Turkish and Kurdish society. If it is a prominent key figure within the parliament of Turkey that is of Kurdish decent and is preaching something different than the PKK agenda, more than likely he would be assassinated by a PKK sniper. It was common from the very beginning for the PKK to target Turkish military bases and Turkish generals.
The PKK at times targeted teachers, condemning that as purveyors of Turkish culture and its repression of the Kurds and alleging that many were spies for the army. Turkish teachers, as a result, became increasingly unwilling to work in many regions that Kurdish children lived in and believed that Turkish military could no longer guarantee their safety. Propaganda/Media When it comes to the publicity of the PKK, it is nothing short of impressive. It seems as if everything the PKK does it ends up on the news worldwide and they look good according to the majority of the Kurds within Turkey.
Although they are perceived as terrorists by many organizations and states like the European Union, NATO, the United States, and many people perceive them as freedom fighters. One reason why the PKK received such widespread support was that it had established an active network of organizations that went beyond its battles with Turkish security forces. From its allied organizations in Europe (especially in Germany, home to hundreds of thousands of Kurds) the PKK published magazines and printed books, organized women and youth groups and generally worked to develop and reinforce Kurdish identity.
In Turkey, Kurdish member groups, particularly aimed at teenagers, operated out of high schools and tea houses. In the early 1990’s many Kurdish guerrilla fighters would kidnap western tourists for publicity across the globe. The publicity the PKK has received has its benefits and downfalls. According to the majority of Kurds living in Turkey, Europe and a good amount of PKK supporters in Iraq, the tactics and spread of PKK propaganda have helped them believe that they will one day achieve Kurdish independence.
On the other side, according to many international news agencies, their tactics and activities have only made them look like radical inhumane individuals who disregard the terror and pain they inflict on the masses. Still, regardless of whether they receive good or bad publicity, they are still receiving acknowledgement around the world that there is a problem with the Kurds in Turkey and the many regions they inhabit. For the most part, publicity worked against them on an international scale, but in terms of uniting the Kurdish people it was very successful.
Willingness to negotiate Success There has been more than two decades of bloodshed and terrorism performed by the PKK and the question that every terrorist organization asks itself as a group over time is if whether or not they were successful. The answer is a definite no. It is unfortunate to see any group of people get treated inhumanely and discriminated upon but the method they should take should always reflect the morals and values of the society they live under.
Having read extensively about whom the Kurds were as an ancient civilization and to see the plight that they are in now is sad, but the method of reaching their goals of independence through violent means is never justified. Without a doubt, as stated in the introduction of this essay, the PKK by our class definition is a terrorist organization and they were not successful at all in their efforts to achieve national independence from the regions that they inhabit.
They have gained some concessions in time as far as being able to speak their native Kurdish and practice certain cultural rites, but that probably would have been given to them in time through the Turkish parliament if they had been more patient and hardworking in their efforts to gain those concessions. For the past two decades it is estimated that the ongoing conflict with Turkey and the PKK has cost the lives of over 37,000 people, not to mention the hundreds of billions of dollars that the PKK cost Turkey from building damages and loss of tourism.
When one weighs out the benefits and damages that this organization has inflicted on its people as well as the Turkish people, it is not worth the fighting at all. The PKK might have been successful for some things like uniting the Kurds as a people and financing certain operations to educate their people as to who they are and what rights they should have as a people, but none of their long term goals were achieved and they now have realized that the goal of breaking apart from the regions that they live under now was a mistake and are pushing for something a lot more moderate and through better means too.
Unfortunately there are still problems with the PKK and turkey and just recently in the news there have been more violence on the both sides and casualties continue to pile up. I believe that having read the discrimination that the Kurds faced within Turkey and other regions I think it would not have been a bad idea to have a defense wing to defend the Kurds if there were violent and discriminate attacks on their identity and rights, but forming into an ethnic terrorist secessionist group was their downfall.
The black panthers formed a defense league to fight for their rights as a people when they believed that they had no choice and it was at that point in time the violence and discrimination decreased for them and made them feel to an extent secure. I think if the PKK would have took this approach things would have been better for them as a group and they would be perceived as a civil rights group as opposed to a terrorist organization. I believe that if people looked at the history of any terrorist group and researched all the facts before attempting to have an immediate answer for them, we will better understand how to deal with them.
I sympathize with the Kurds and all people in their situation because at the end of the day everyone wants a place they can call home and practice their beliefs and language freely. I personally view the PKK as taking the wrong path to solve the question of the Kurds and having taking a course on 20th century terrorism I believe that terrorism will continue unless more and more people around the globe educate themselves about what terrorism really is and how it has been used and that it is indeed a tactic used by the very nations that they call democratic and civil.
I believe that this class has given me a sense of history as to what terrorism really is and if more people had this sense of history maybe people will answer the questions of the Kurds for them as opposed to the Kurds trying to do it by the wrong means because unfortunately they did not have the right answer. Overall, education and patience brings about change and with those qualities any question I believe can be answered-even the Kurdish question. Bibliography 1. Chaliand, Gerard. A PEOPLE WITHOUT A COUNTRY. New York: Olive Branch Press, 1993 2. Meiselas, Susan. Kurdistan, In the Shadow of History.
Random House New York Press, 1997. 3. Karolides, J. Nicholas. Literature Suppressed on Political Grounds. New York: Facts On File, Inc, 2006. 4. Entessar, Nader. KURDISH ETHNONATIONALISM. Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc. , 1992. 5. Rod Usher. Nationalists Without a Nation. Times Magazine, (1999) http://www. time. com/time/daily/special/ocalan/nationalists. html 6. Committee On International Relations House of Representatives, One Hundred Congress: Hearing Before the Subcommittee On Europe and Emerging Threats. Washington, D. C. , 2005 7. Gage, Nicholas. “ The Violence of Extremism Grips Turkish Politics. New York Times, May 7, 1978 8. Howe, Marvine. “ Turks Imprison Former Minister Who Spoke Up On Kurds’ . ” New York Times, March 27, 1981 9. Howe, Marvine. “ Turkey’s Kurds Feel Neglected and Bitter. ” New York Times, June 11, 1980. 10. Greenhouse, Steven. “U. S. Support for Turks’ Anti-Kurd Campaign Dims. ” New York Times, March 29, 1995. 11. Barlas, Mehmet. “Limited Intelligence Causes Unlimited Speculation. ” TurkishDailyHurriet. http://www. redorbit. com/news/international/1116742/turkish_column_views_pkk_goals_role_of_iraq_usa/index. html 12. Fisher, Marc. Kurds Attack 29 cities in Europe / Hostages seized in Munich and Marseille. ” San Francisco Chronicle, June 25, 1993. Pg. A12 13. Viviano, Frank. “Inside Turkey’s civil war, Fear and Geopolitics / For all sides, Kurd insurgency is risky business. ” San Francisco Chronicle, February 23, 1996. pg. A. 12 14. Pope, Hugh. “Kurd Faction, Leaderless, Faces a Struggle— Riots in Europe continue; West’s concerns Grow about a Stateless People. ” THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, February 18, 1999. Pg. 1 15. Randal, Jonathan. “Turks avenge troops’ deaths, attack Kurds. ” Houston Chronicle, October 12, 1991. Pg. 24 16. Goltz, Thomas. War between Turks, Kurdish still going on. ” Houston Chronicle, August 4, 1985. Pg. 28 17. “Turkey Struggles With Kurdish Uprising Series: POINTS OF THE COMPASS. ” Christian Science Monitor, August 30th, 1990. Pg. 10 18. “Kurds Say Turkish Government Is Linked To Abductions And Killings Of Activists. ” Christian Science Monitor, October 24th, 1991. 19. “25 Miles Into Iraq, Turkey Pounds Rebel Kurds/u. s. backs ally’s incursion—but criticism is growing. ” San Francisco Chronicle, March 22, 1995. Pg. A10 20. Cowell, Alan, “Turkey’s Effort to Quell Rebel Kurds Raises Alarm in Ankara and Europe. ” The New York Times, March 27, 1992. 1. Arsu, Sebnem, “After Bombing, Turkish Leader Urges Unity. ” The New York Times, July 29, 2008. 22. Howe, Marvine, “Turks Imprison Former Minister Who Spoke On Kurds’ Behalf. ” The New York Times, March 27, 1981. 23. Haberman, Clyde, “The Kurds; Inflight Once Again. ” The New York Times, May 5, 1991. 24. Barkey, Henri, “Turkey’s Kurdish Question: Critical Turning Points and Misses Opportunities. ” The Middle East Journal vol, 51, issue 1, pg. 59. Winter 1997. 25. Safire, Henry, “Dealing With Dictators. ” The New York Times, October 22, 1998. 26. “Kurds attack across Europe//Turkish businesses,