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 Turkey ’s borders.
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 Turkey; and kidnapped foreign tourists in southeastern Anatolia in the early 1990s. In order to damage Turkey ’s economy, the organization also set forests in Turkey ’s tourist resorts on fire.
Following the arrest of its leader, Abdullah Ocalan, 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 organization.
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 Iraq 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 Ocalan, with Zubeyir 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 pre-1999 period.
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 businessmen).
- 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
Presently, the 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).
In April 2004, PKK was 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 camps).
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 organization PKK/KONGRA-GEL.