Acknowledge the PKK as Freedom Fighters and a Partner for Peace!

Rebwar Reshid

By Rebwar Rashed:

Due to arbitrarily-drawn borders in the Middle East on at least two occasions, the first at the Sykes Picot (also calls the Asian Minor Agreement (16th of May 1916) (1), and the second in the aftermath of World War 1, Kurdistan became four parts, each part belong to a new territorial state: Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria.

There have always been Kurdish movements for freedom and liberation in all of these countries. In this article I will focus only on that part of Kurdistan which Kurds in general and Kurdish political literature usually calls “North Kurdistan”, the part that has been occupied by Turkey.

Here I will try to shed the light on some falsifications by the Turkish state, which unfortunately have become a foundation for many preconceived ideas and political decisions in the West against Kurdish people.

Turkey claims that it´s the Kurdistan Workers Party, PKK, which started the violence.

But, with a closer look at the case, we find a totally different situation.

There have been at least 40 different Kurdish uprisings/ popular movements against the Turkish authorities, both before and after the establishment of the Turkish republic, some of them large scale and others in specific regions of Kurdistan.

Kurdish uprisings before the establishment of the Turkish Republic on 29th October 1923:

The movement or the uprising of Pasha Abdurrahman Babanzade (1806) in Mosul; the Pasha Ahmed Babanzade uprising (1812) also in Mosul; the uprising of the Zaza Kurds (1820); the Yezidi Kurds uprising (1830) in Hakkari; the uprising of Sherefkhan Bitlisi (1831); the Bedirkhan uprising in Botan region (1835); the uprising of Garzan in Amed/ Diyarbakir (2) (1839); the uprising of Sheikh Ubeydullah in Hakkari (1881); the uprising of Bedirhani brothers, Osman Pasha and Hussein Pasha in the regions of Mardin-Cizre (1872); the uprising of Ali Emin Bedirkhan in Erzincan (1889); the uprising of the Bedirkhanis and Khalil Rema in Mardin (1912); the uprising of Sheikh Selim Shehabediin and Ali in Bitlis (1912); and the uprising of the Kochgari/ Kochgiri (1920).

Kurdish uprisings after the establishment of the Turkish Republic:

The uprising of the Nasturi in Hakkari (1924); The uprising of the Geilyan in the region of Sirit (1926); the great uprising of Sheikh Saiyd in the regions of Bingol-Mush-Amed (Diyarbakır) (1925); the uprising of Saiyd Taha and Saiyd Abdullah Shemdini (1925); the uprising of Reshkotan and Reman in Amed (1925); the uprising of Jackob Agha of Eruhe and his sons uprising in PerWani (1926); the uprising of Goyan in the region of  Siirt (1926); the uprising of Haco in Nusaybin (1926); the uprising of First Ağrı (1926); the uprising of the Kochushagkı in Siwan (1926); the uprising of Hakkari- Beytulshebab (1926); the uprising of Mutki in Bitlis (1927); the great uprising of the Second Ağrı Biçar in SilWan (1927); the uprising of Zilanlı Resul Agha in Eruh (1929); the uprising of Zeylan in the region Wan (1930); the uprising of Tutaklı Ali jan in the regions of Tutak-Bulanık-Hınıs (1930); the uprising of Oramar in the region of Wan (1930) the Third Ağrı movement (1930); the uprising of Bubans in Bitlis (1934); the uprising of Abdurrahman in Siirt (1935); the uprising of Abdulkuddus in Siirt (1935); the uprising of Sason in Siirt (1935); the uprising of Dersim/ Tunceli (1937)

And, then, the PKK movement, starting in 1978.

Lies, falsifications and genocide have been the Turkish state’s best weapon.

Mass killings, raping, arbitrary execution, imprisonment, deportation, forced displacement and deliberately separating family members, were common methods of the Turkish authorities long before the establishment of the Republic and during the Republic, at least until 1980.

The Turkish atrocities developed a new structure in the ‘80s. While during the Ataturk period there were systematic killings of male youths and “confiscating” of female youths, in the ‘80s we saw sexual tortures, sexual harassment and of course raping, not just of women, but also of children, minors and men. Maiming the breasts of Kurdish female political prisoners, on at least one occasion, for degrading and humiliation purposes, has been practised.

Kurdish male prisoners were forced to wear only underwear and this during severe cold wintertime. Many were forced to sleep with bare backs on the cement floor. Prisoners were forced to taste or eat rats’ and also their own feces.

Confiscating Kurdish property, lands and animals; prohibiting the using of the Kurdish language, cultural activities and manifestation; and forbidding any usage of traditional Kurdish-national attire and dress, even in the sphere of the home, were Turkish preventive measures to ensure Kurdish extinction.

Through most of the twentieth century, Turks conducted a Turkey-wide campaign to force everybody to be a “Turk” and they falsified history about the origin of the Turks and Turkish civilization. The Kurds became “Mountain Turks”, inferior Turks who refused to be a part of the civilized world. This is a picture that is still in the heads of millions of politically-illiterate Turks.

Northern Kurdistan became a graveyard for Kurdish people. The Turks have destroyed the few hospitals, schools and infrastructures that existed in Kurdistan, and kept only those which were useful for Turkish military purposes. They isolated Kurds from each other and forced Kurdish people to spy on each other, otherwise they would be punished with deportation and extermination. As Mr. İsmail Beşikçi (3)  put it, the objective of the Turkish state was to eradicate the name of Kurds and Kurdistan from the face of earth. This was long before the birth of the PKK.

Between two periods – the defeat of the last Kurdish uprising, the Dersim Rebellion led by Said Reza in December 1938, and the birth of the PKK in 1978 – we witnessed 40 years of the most barbaric actions in the history of colonialism, atrocities carried out by the Turkish state against the Kurdish people.

From the 1940s to 1984 the Turks had the glory of scaring the Kurds to death; deporting them to Turkish cities and displacing them as Turkish national security required; waging psychological warfare against Kurds; belittling them; depriving them even of having Kurdish names and imposing Turkish names on them. (4)

While Kurdistan burned to ashes, there was huge investment in schools, hospitals, infrastructure, heavy industry, self-sufficient base-industry and agro-industry in the Turkic areas. The discrimination and racism against Kurdish people were sponsored, planned and implemented by the Turkish state. Everybody in Turkey has been involved in the project of extermination of Kurdish people, from the president down to the low ranks of the military and MIT (intelligence agency).

An idea about awakening, rising up and organizing to fight this kind of Turkish barbarism was born in 1978. Germinating in this terrible environment; the PKK already had a head start of a century to help it understand that it was dealing with an occupation force that has no conscience whatsoever.

NATO and the OECD

Back in the 1950s, the USA supported any kind of opposition against the Soviet Union´s communist threat. Mr. Truman´s doctrine in 1947 was to help, military and economically, countries which for various reasons stood against Soviet Union. Turkey was one of them.

After joining the United Nations forces in the Korean War, Turkey became a member of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in 1952 and it also became a member of OECD, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, in 1961.

Turkey had two things to offer against the Russians, a huge landscape and almost a million foot soldiers. Thus, Turkey became one of the main beneficiaries of the Cold War.

Becoming a member of NATO, Turkey got not just funds, logistical support, weapons, ammunition and intelligent services from the NATO countries, but it also got political and moral support and unfortunately a “green light” to proceed with its efforts to eradicate Kurds.

The tremendous European capital investments in Turkey started gradually to flourish: For instance, the tourism industry which involves multi- and international companies and which generates billions of dollars. Other heavy industrial complexes such as the  military, food and agro-industry also started to flourish (and are still flourishing!). Now Turkey is supplying Iraq, Syria, many Arabic countries and some European markets with food and construction products, etc.

Due to all these political and economic ties, benefits and interrelations, it was an easy task for Turkey to blacklist the PKK and have it put on the international list of terrorist organizations. It was the PKK, not Turkey, which was put on trial.

NATO countries became Turkey’s ally in the fight against the Kurdish national liberation movement and the Kurdish cry for freedom – despite the fact that almost all these countries in NATO knew then (and know now!) about the Kurdish historical agony and oppression, and again, despite the fact that all these countries have themselves a historical colonial background and should have known better.

Conscious political opinion, not just in Europe, but across the world, knows though that the PKK is much better than its reputation. Turkey has succeeded in blaming the PKK for the unrest, but the PKK started its armed struggle on 15 August 1984. The majority of the war victims are in fact Kurdish civilians. The Turkish causalities are exclusively military and MIT staff. Unlike the Kurdish situation, there are no Turkish civilian causalities.

The unilateral warfare of the Turkish state against the Kurdish people goes back to the very beginning of 1923 and even before the Republic.

Blaming the Marxist background of the PKK is also nonsense. The Turkish war in the last 100 years has been a war against all Kurdish segments and Kurdish individuals, no matter their personal belief and ideology. Marxism was indeed the main, if not the only, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s political ideology as an answer to various colonial and imperialist interventions, and back then it was a world-wide experience. However, the PKK has never worked for a regime change or to topple the state of Turkey, rather it focused on Kurdish liberation and freedom.

Turkey has indeed successfully hoodwinked the Europeans when it comes to forging an ‘alliance of the willing’ against Kurdish people. The democratic public opinion in democratic countries is unaware of Turkey´s atrocities, discrimination and racism in Kurdistan.

Forcing Kurdish individuals to be “Village Guards” is another crime of the Turkish state in Kurdistan. There are horrible stories about how Turkey traps Kurdish people into extreme poverty in order to force them to become “Village Guards”. Each “Village Guard” gets an amount of US $200-300 per month. These “Village Guards” have been involved in disappearances of Kurdish intellectuals and NGOs members, raping and kidnapping, killing innocent people while dressed up in Kurdish guerrilla uniforms and working as an unwilling frontrunner in fighting the PKK. The official number of these quislings is 66,000, but it could be much more.(5)

The feared Turkish Hezbollah, started a wave of atrocities, similar to IS, in the late 1980s and 1990s against Kurdish people. Turkish Hezbollah comprised the MIT, “Village Guards” and Paramilitaries, and was undoubtedly under the supervision and leadership of Turkish military generals. Their only job was to intimidate the Kurdish people into silence and kill everyone who did not buckle.

Turkey has also succeeded in persuading Europeans that the PKK has been killing teachers. This allegation was groundbreaking in terms of psychological warfare and is often the main subject raised when the talk is about PKK “terrorism”.

But it´s also well-known that those people Turkey calls “teachers” are actually members of the  MIT, the redoubled  fearful Turkish secret service, and they have been stationed in Kurdistan under the cover name of “teachers”. These “teachers” have been scaring Kurdish children into silence, to not talk Kurdish, to spy on their parents and family members, to be indoctrinated in Turkishness and to hate the word Kurd and Kurdistan.

These “teachers” are MIT officers and they are numerous. They collect information at every school, keep an eye on the politically “good” and “bad” students”. These “teachers” are different groups, work as different separate groups, but have the same purpose. They are one and the same organization and belong to MIT, but with different duties. They are well trained and professional individuals. The students are usually a target when they are 9 or 10 years old. Contact will be established to review the student’s social, economic and political background, the family members, etc. Different methods are used to subjugate the individuals, usually at age 13 or 14, especially when they are females.

Then the MIT will stage “falling in love” scenarios with the female individual until she thinks that she is in love with the person. Then when she agrees to go (to a hotel or somewhere else) with the undercover MIT officer, the girl will be filmed in secret. These acts will be taped and registered one after another. In many cases the officer will force the girl to have sex with other “friends”, saying that otherwise this or that could happen. When the “teacher” (read: MIT officer) is finished with the girl they usually have had many hours of sex, in pornographic styles and humiliating acts, etc. Now the girl is their prisoner for life. She must do everything she is told, otherwise her family, neighborhood and others will be informed.

In cases of male individual there are many horrible stories too. These kids sometimes are under 15 years of old and been forced to commit crimes that they probably never forgive themselves for.

Lately there have been fewer reports of such activities. One reason could be the trial of some generals and so called “Police officers” and of course the recent conflicts with the “Gullenists” which the AKP consider as a “Parallel State”.

Turkey has not only been hurting ​​ Kurds in Turkey. Its suppression does not end in Northern Kurdistan, but has also caused major losses to Kurds in other countries. It has also entered into various agreements with the states of Iran, Iraq and Syria so that they will not try to solve the Kurdish question. Turkey has been also a sponsor of Jihadists in their war against Kurdistan both in Syria and Iraq. Groups such as IS and Jabaht Alnusra and other extreme groups of Islam have received from Turkey various kinds of support, know-how and facilitation. This must be well known to NATO members and other Western countries.

Today the PKK is a gigantic political organization that enjoys the support of millions of people, not just in Northern Kurdistan, but also in other parts of Kurdistan and among Kurds in Europe.

The PKK succeeded in persuading Kurds and Kurdistanis (as Assyrians, Armenians, Jews, Christians and other minorities in Kurdistan) of the importance of having a political will to survive, to fight back, to demand respect and recognition. These people are indeed the original inhabitants of the Middle East and have the right to live in peace and freedom.

In conclusion, one cannot ignore what has happened and is happening today. There has to be a roadmap in a right direction. My suggestions are the following:


The NATO countries have a moral obligation to realize that they have caused Kurdish people pain and heavy losses.


Leaving aside conspiracy theories, such as “new imperialism” and “neo-conservatism” to explain US desire for global hegemony, the US and the Western world must take their share of responsibility for solving the Kurdish question and contribute to a peaceful political solution of the problem. That is if their objective is the stability of the Middle East and to pave a way for a democratic, secular and pluralistic political and social atmosphere there. In last two years Turkey has started an “Openings process” concerning the Kurdish issue. The process was begun half-heartedly by the government and has been slow-going since. The government has lacked the political will to speak openly about Kurdish national rights and that there is complete silence about tens of thousands of Kurdish political prisoners and the initiative taker, Mr. Ocalan, is still in prison.

Mr. Ocalan needs international support in order to begin and continue the process of reconciliation, reminiscent of South Africa’s “Truth and Reconciliation Commission”.

The first step is to free Mr. Ocalan and recognize him as a partner for peace This is a good opportunity to a peaceful, stable, secular and free Middle East.


The PKK has proven that it can stand against aggression: For instance in the last 30 years of Turkish military operations with all the various help it has received from NATO, Israel and others. The PKK has further proven that it promotes secularism, respect for religious diversity, gender and ethnic equality, peaceful and political solutions and the principle of the sisterhood of nations. In addition, the PKK’s armed wing, the People’s Defence Forces, HPG, signed the Deed of Commitment for the Protection from the Effects of Armed Conflict, in 2013 and there is political transparency as long as it does not impinge on sensitive military information.


The Kurdish issue must be solved sooner or later. Kurdish people have developed modern organizational tools, both legally and as armed defence, and other required capacities to fight back. There are indications that the movement is growing and getting smarter and more mobile, rather than vanishing. So any delusions from Turkey or anywhere else will only jeopardize a political, peaceful solution to the Kurdish question.


The PKK has proven that it can fight against the dark forces of various forms of Islamic extremism, such as Turkish Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, ISIS (IS), Jabhat Alnusra and many others. The PKK has shown skill in promoting modernity and liberal thoughts for the coexistence of different religions and ethnicities. And it is also promoting cultural activities such as film, theatre, music and dance folklore.


A country like Iran, which is still under an international supervision and a semi-boycott because of its engagement in international terrorism and its hidden efforts to produce atomic weapons, may get in the way of a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue, thanks to its reactionary position against peace and freedom. But this should not scare democratic opinion and the free world should not surrender to Iran’s intimidation policy.



(2). Diyarbakır is the largest Kurdish city in North Kurdistan. The real name is Amed, not Diyarbakir. Diyarbakir is after Islamic occupation, the name of Islam´s first Khlifet Abu Bakir.

(3). In his book, Kurdistan: An Interstate Colony, Mr. Beşikçi discusses the Kurdish issue in new ways of thinking. Mr. Beşikçi has written many books about Kurdish question and is seen as a true friend of Kurdish people. For more information about Mr.Beşikçi, see:

(4). For instance the famous name ” Türkoğlu/ Turkughlo” meaning the “son of a Turk” forced on Kurds to remind them that they are “Sons of Turks!” making them  stand in hours to sing Turkish national anthem and to glorify Turkishness.


Rebwar Rashed was born in Kurdistan. He has translated several books into Kurdish, written a novel (‘The Shadow of Helebce’) and also many articles in Kurdish and English about the Kurdistan National Liberation Movement, human rights, equality between the sexes and ethnicities, and the need for a democratic and peaceful struggle.

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