Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK (Kurdish: Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê) is a left-wing organization based in Turkey and Iraq. Since 1984 the PKK has waged an armed struggle against the Turkish state for equal rights and self-determination for the Kurds in Turkey, who comprise between 18% and 25% of the population and have been subjected to repression for decades. The group was founded in 1978 in the village of Fis (near Lice) by a group of Kurdish students led by Abdullah Öcalan. The PKK’s ideology was originally a fusion of revolutionary socialism and Kurdish nationalism, seeking the foundation of an independent, Marxist–Leninist state in the region, which was to be known as Kurdistan.
Kurdistan Workers’ Party
Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê (PKK)
|Paramilitary Wing||People’s Defence Forces (HPG)
Free Women’s Units (YJA-STAR)
|National affiliation||Peoples’ United Revolutionary Movement|
|International affiliation||Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK)|
|People’s Defence Forces
Hêzên Parastina Gel (HPG)
|Dates of operation||1984–present|
|Motives||Cultural & political rights for the Kurdish population in Turkey.|
|Active region(s)||Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran|
|Notable attacks||1984 PKK attacks
May 24, 1993 PKK ambush
2011 Hakkâri attack
|Status||Fights against ISIL.Ongoing war with Turkey, after ceasefire ended.|
|Size||Over 32,800 active fighters (2015 Turkish claim)|
However, since his capture and imprisonment in 1999, the leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, has completely abandoned Marxism–Leninism, leading the party to adopt his new political platform of “Democratic Confederalism” (influenced strongly by the libertarian socialist philosophy of communalism) while ceasing its official calls for the establishment of a fully independent country. In May 2007, former members of the PKK helped form the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organisation of Kurds from Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. On 20 March 2005, Öcalan described the need for a democratic confederalism and went on to say:
- The democratic confederalism of Kurdistan is not a State system, it is the democratic system of a people without a State… It takes its power from the people and adapts to reach self-sufficiency in every field including the economy.
In 2013, the PKK declared a ceasefire agreement and began slowly withdrawing its fighters to the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq as part of the “solution process” between the Turkish state and the long-disenfranchised Kurdish minority. In July 2015, the PKK announced that a ceasefire was over and said that Ankara had welched on its promises regarding the Kurdish issue.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by several states and organizations, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the United States and the European Union. However, the United Nations and countries such as Switzerland, China, India, Russia and Egypt have not designated the PKK as a terrorist organization.