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Kurdistan Workers Party

(Redirected from PKK)

The Congress for Freedom and Democracy in Kurdistan (Kadek), formerly known as the Kurdistan Workers Party (Kurdish: Partiya KarkerÍn Kurdistan or PKK) was one of several organisations striving for the creation of an independent Kurdish state in territory that is currently southeastern Turkey, northeastern Iraq, Northeastern Syria and northwestern Iran. It arose from a radical youth movement in Turkey during the 1970s proclaiming itself a revolutionary socialist national "liberation movement" following a Marxist-Leninist doctrine, though since then it has abandoned much of its leftist doctrine.

While the organization does not speak for the majority of Kurds, it does champion the cause of Kurdish independence (see Kurdistan). In its campaign for Kurdish independence, the organisation has committed atrocities against both Turkish and Kurdish civilians. However, the Turkish Government has also been accused of widespread atrocities in its campaign to suppress the organization, and has continued to repress efforts by the Kurdish people in Turkey to secure regional autonomy or independence.


The Organisation

Different names of the organisation

The organisation changed names over the years however the people that make up the organisation did not change.

  1. PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) 19842 April 2002
  2. KADEK (Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress) 2 April 200211 November 2003
  3. KGK (KONGRA-GEL) 11 November 20034 April 2005
  4. PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) 4 April 2005–present

Structure of the organisation

The organisation operated as a group of cells. While each cell was organised in their operations there was little cooperation between the individual cells. This made the organisation more unpredictable and difficult for the Turkish government to track down.

The operations were divided into three categories: Urban, Non-Urban, and Political.


PKK's urban cells primarily promoted the PKK cause, through protests and violent attacks. The violent attacks were mostly through bombs (either timered/remote or suicide). The urban PKK cells occasionally attacked malls, hotels and bazaars aside from government buildings like police stations. The Turkish government responded to these actions, by using a more drastic and direct approach against the PKK.

The urban cells were also involved in gathering resources to fund the organisation. Methods included but where not limited to a voluntary/involuntary donation system, drug dealings (domestic and international) and illegal immigration. Illegal immigration was one of the few occasions where the Urban PKK cells cooperated with each other. They received the illegal immigrants from Non-Urban cells and passed them to the next. The illegal immigrants were mostly shipped through larger cities, in order to make it easier for the immigrants to "blend in".


Non-Urban cells operated in the mountainous regions of Turkey. The structure and height of this mountainous region makes it very difficult for helicopters to maneuver, making it difficult for government troops to respond in a timely fashion to a "Hit". Often these cells hid themselves in hidden underground "safe-houses". Although nothing remotely close to Vietnamese tunnel networks (nor vegetation cover), the mountains hid them from the civilised world adequately, especially during winter. The Cells operated primarily on a Hit and run basis. Just like urban cells, the main objective was to promote the PKK "cause", either through winning or forcing public support. They often "infiltrated" small remote villages; if they failed to win support, people in the village were slaughtered, either to punish the non-supporters and force who was left to support the organisation (or face death) or by blaming the Turkish Military. This activity forced the government to evacuate some remote villages by force as villagers did not want to leave their homes they grew up in regardless of the danger (and often organisation members hid themselves in these villages when they are running away from government troops to "blend in" with the population). The evacuation have caused significant problems in the cities where the evacuees resettled (mostly larger metropolitan cities). The infrastructure had more people than it can handle.

Secondarily, the organisation used mines. Anti-personnel mines against government troops. These mines are of Italian and Russian origin. Aside from the mapped government mining as a way to stop their mobility, cells layed mines on their own around non-supportive villages and around military bases, on patrol routes etc... Anti-vehicle mines were layed on vehicle patrol and remote roads in hopes to blow up military vehicles. Often these mines were triggered by heavy buses and trucks as they are about the same weight as military vehicles to trigger the mines (more abundant too). Armored vehicles often became unusable but crew survived unless it was an unarmored "supply" truck.

Tirtiarily Cells disrupted the region. They sabotaged the GAP Project, which is a series of Dams larger than its American counterpart, as its completion would bring prosperity and stability to the region which means a lesser reason to revolt. They abducted engineers working on the project. Mostly foreign ones were not killed. They also abducted/killed doctors, teachers and other non-military government employees which progress the society as a way to destabilise the region.


This kind of cell only operated in democratic countries in European nations (including Turkey) and the US. The political cells were not exactly limited to traditional politics. They operated under various names as one political party they operate disappeared a new one was formed. In Turkey on almost any national conventions these political parties primary way of winning support was via Anti-Government slogans or annual burning of the Turkish flag. In the dark, however, these cells operate no different than regular urban-cells. In foreign countries they spicing their arguments with a "civil liberty" discussion. At a point European nations exerted significant pressure to Turkey while US refrained from commenting. On the long run they were using other nations to interfere with internal issues of Turkey. This also was often as an excuse not to admit Turkey into the EU. In addition the organization has been active in western Europe against Turkish targets. Conducted attacks on Turkish diplomatic and commercial facilities in dozens of West European cities in 1993 and again in spring 1995. In an attempt to damage Turkey's tourist industry, the PKK has bombed tourist sites and hotels and kidnapped foreign tourists.


  • Since 1978 the group was led by Abdullah ÷calan with its armed activities directed towards the Turkish military and Governmental institutes as well as civilian targets throughout Turkey. Reports suggest that it has received safehaven and modest aid from Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
  • The organisation's all-time high of activity was during the Gulf War when Turkey opened its Iraqi border allowing Iraqis to flee the Saddam regime. The president of the era, Turgut ÷zal, is heavily criticised for his decision on this matter.
  • In 1994, Kurdish members of Parliament in the banned Democracy Party , most prominently Leyla Zana, were arrested and charged with treason and membership in the PKK, although they denied this. They were not released until 2004.
  • In 1999 Turkish authorities captured PKK leader at the Greek Embassy in Kenya in a joint operation between the CIA and MIT (Milli Istihbarat Teskilati). Abdullah ÷calan in Kenya in early 1999 and a Turkish Court subsequently sentenced him to death for treason. In August 1999, ÷calan announced his second peace initiative, ordering members to refrain from violence and requesting dialogue with the government of Turkey on all issues. However, before the ink on his court case dried, multiple riots broke out throughout the world near Turkish diplomatic facilities (UK Riot police at London demo and Kurdish protests turn deadly).
  • In 2002 the government of Turkey accepted certain conditions for entry into the European Union including abolition of the death penalty which will spare the life of Abdullah ÷calan.
  • In 2004 the armed wing of PKK, HPG (People's Forces of Defence) announced that they ended the unilateral truce they had sustained since the time of ÷calan's capture.
  • On April 2, 2004 The Council of the European Union (the 15 EU governments) decided to update the European Union list of terrorist organisations to include Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)(a.k.a. KADEK, a.k.a. KONGRA-GEL).
  • PKK Changed its name to KADEK after being declared as a terrorist organisation.
  • Later in 2004 US Treasury has amended its regulations to include all the aliases and off-shoots of PKK in its sanctions list maintained by OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control). The list aims at blocking terrorist property. The organisations currently listed under the PKK aliases item include KADEK (Congress for Freedom and Democracy in Kurdistan), KONGRA-GEL, HSK, KHK and PKK. The organisation also is on the U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

The Leader

See: Abdullah ÷calan

The Result

According to Turkish government figures, over 30,000 lives have been lost since the conflict between the Turkish goverment and the PKK began. The damage to infrastructure and the money spent to end the conflict is claimed by the Turkish government to stand at 200 billion ($200,000,000,000) US dollars. Analysts point out that, if such figures are accurate, this sum would be more than enough to complete the GAP Project which had limited progress since the start of the conflict. The conflict left a war-torn region and prompted some hostility towards the Kurds in the region as well as abroad.

One of the reasons Turkey was denied EU membership was this conflict.

External links

Websites supporting Kurdistan Workers Party

Websites opposing Kurdistan Workers Party

Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04