PKK/KONGRA-GEL and Terrorism
Established in 1978, PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) started
its armed struggle in 1984 after a preparatory period of numerous murders
and attacks, with the objective of the establishment, through armed
struggle, of an independent Kurdistan within
Since 1984, PKK’s terrorist activities resulted in the
death of more than 30.000 Turkish citizens, among whom were innocent
civilians, teachers and other public servants, many deliberately murdered,
and large amount of economic loss.
In its history, the terrorist organization also employed
suicide-bombing methods, waged mainly by women terrorists in
; and kidnapped foreign tourists in
in the early 1990s.
In order to damage
economy, the organization also set forests in
’s tourist resorts
Following the arrest of its leader, Abdullah Öcalan, in 1999,
the organization started claiming that it switched its strategy to peaceful
methods and would pursue political struggle from then on.
In accordance with this policy of appearing as a born-again
legitimate organization and to convince the international community
accordingly, the organization changed its name to KADEK (Kurdistan Freedom
and Democracy Congress) in April 2002, alleging that PKK has fulfilled its
historical mission and would now like to be accepted as a political
In October 2003, the organization underwent another name
change to KONGRA-GEL (Kurdistan Peoples Congress). The decision was made
public by a press statement in
on 15 November 2003.
However, albeit the name changes, the leading members of the
organization remain the same. Today, PKK/KONGRA-GEL is still headed by
Abdullah Öcalan, with Zübeyir Aydar, a former member of the “Kurdish
National Congress”, an affiliate of PKK, its president. Furthermore,
founders and leading figures of the PKK, such as Murat Karayılan,
Cemil Bayık etc. continue to assume leading roles in the organization.
Many of the leading figures of PKK/KONGRA-GEL are internationally
recognized criminals searched through Red Bulletins.
Moreover, after neither of these two name changes nor the
so-called strategy change of 1999, the organization did not undergo changes
on substantial issues such as decommissioning of arms, continuing to carry
out attacks mainly in southeastern Anatolia, though not in the scope of
PKK/KONGRA-GEL also keeps its militants and recruits new
ones. PKK militants did not surrender to justice, even to benefit from the
provisions of the “Law on Reintegration into Society”, that
came into force on 6 August 2003 (for a period of 6 months) and that
provided amnesty to those members of a terrorist organization who were not
involved in any crimes.
The organization’s recent declaration, of 29 May 2004,
alleging an end to a so-called unilateral cease-fire that the organization
claims to be implementing since September 1999, stating that it would, by 1
June 2004, respond to any offence with a rationale of self-defense, is yet
another open revelation of the organization’s terrorist nature.
Presently, it is estimated that there are a total of 5,000
PKK/KONGRA-GEL terrorists, the majority of whom are in northern Iraq
whereby the organization’s headquarters are situated.
Given the picture, the organization’s arguments for a
policy change can be defined as merely a make-up. It is, furthermore, not
possible and righteous for a terrorist organization that still keeps its
militants and arms and that does not hesitate to publicly threaten with the
use of force, to be freed of its past guilt with the mere change of a name.
Financing of its activities
Despite being an organization that claims to stand up for the
rights of a disadvantaged and impoverished group of people, PKK/KONGRA-GEL
has many expenditures, ranging from financing of its terrorist strength to
running media outlets (dailies, periodicals, TV and radio channels) and to
carrying out anti-Turkey propaganda activities in many parts of the world.
Europe is particularly important for the organization as it
is in Europe where the organization generates most of its revenue to
finance these cumbersome activities.
Legal and illegal sources of PKK/KONGRA-GEL revenue can be
cited as follows:
- Extortion (largely from Turkish
- Revenues obtained from the “special
nights” organized by affiliates.
- Sales of publications etc.
- Revenues obtained from commercial establishments
belonging to / affiliated with the organization.
- Money collected through drug-trafficking,
arms-smuggling and trafficking in human beings.
Building up of international solidarity
organization is proscribed in France, Germany (both since 1993) and the UK
(since March 2001) and is included in the foreign terrorist organizations
list in Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Japan, Kazakhstan and the USA (the
organization’s terrorist nature is being emphasized by the annual
report of the US Department of State, “Patterns of Global
Terrorism”, for over a decade).
As of 2 April 2004, PKK is also included in the EU Terrorist
Organizations and Entities List with its aliases, KADEK and KONGRA-GEL.
PKK, furthermore, is
listed among groups involving child soldiers in the report, dated June
2001, of the NGO ‘Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers’
(PKK is known to abduct children and brainwash and train them in its
There was a time in history when being a terrorist was
confused with being a freedom fighter, however, this attitude can no longer
prevail. Specifically following the events of 11 September, international
solidarity against terrorism and terrorist organizations has grown, with
international documents, such as the UNSCR 1373, outlining the parameters
of unequivocal fight against terrorism. In accordance with these
developments, Turkey expects that all countries, in accordance with their
international obligations, take resolute stance towards the terrorist