The Workers' Party of Kurdistan (PKK)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Turkey

I. Historical Background and Development

The terrorist organization known as the Workers' Party of Kurdistan, Party Karkaren Kurdistan, or PKK, was created m the early 1970s during a Kurdish search for an Independence movement. The PKK, formed In 1974, evolved from the Ankara Democratic Patriotic Association of Higher Education, known as "APOCUS." Its first and only leader, Abdullah Ocalan, or Apo as he came to be called, was at that time a student of political science at Ankara University.

The PKK was formed In Ankara (the capital of Turkey) rather than In the southeast of Turkey where a large Kurdish population resides or In a Middle Eastern country. When it was formally established In 1978, the primary objective of the PKK was to foster a communist revolution In Turkey, not to create an Independent Kurdistan which Apo now claims as his main goal.

Initially, the PKK's central committee was comprised of Ocalan as general secretary, assisted by Sahln Donmez, Cemil Bayik, Mehmet Karasunger, Mazlum Dogan, Mehmet Hayri Durmus, and Kesire Ylldlrlm, who later became Ocalan's wife. Yyldyrim was the only woman to attend the formal establishment of the PKK In the village of Fis in Diyarbakir. She also established relations with the Soviet Culture Center In Damascus, Syria, where Soviet agents traded terrorist fugitives from Turkey.

The PKK, rooted in the philosophy of Dev Genc, a revolutionary youth group that operated m the 1970s, soon launched a violent campaign against perceived "state collaborators ", (e.g., those who openly supported the government and/or Its policies) and Kurdish tribes that had historically coexisted peacefully with the Turkish government. An early PKK attack In 1979 against Mehmet Celal Bucak, a high octal In the conservative Justice Party and well-known landlord In eastern Turkey, preceded a campaign of violence against government oculars and between terrorist groups of varying Ideologies. The PKK condemned Bucak for "exploiting the peasants," and "collaborating" with the government. Soon after, it attempted to assassinate him, but failed. This attack, however, promoted conflicts between right- and left-wing groups in Turkey, leading to PKK attacks on so-called "fascist" groups, Including the Revolutionary Unity of the People (Devrimci Halkyn Birligi), the Liberation of the People (Halkln Kurtulusu), the Revolutionary Democratic Cultural Association (DDKD), and National Liberation of Kurdistan (KUK).

The PKK's violent actions were Immediately challenged by various political parties. In 1978, the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iraq (KDP) voiced its disapproval of the PKK's tactics and a year later Kurdistan National Llberators adopted the KDP's position. The dissenters were later joined by tribal leaders, Including Suleyman Age, who contended that these tactics would do Little to further the Kurdish cause in Turkey or win favor from the world community.

By 1980, Turkey's internal security situation had deteriorated markedly. PKK violence had extended to Turkish government personnel, rival organizations, and dissidents within the PKK's own ranks. During raids into rural Kurdish villages of eastern Turkey, the PKK brutalized the wives and children of tribesmen. By the early 1980s, the group had murdered about 240 people.

Largely due to the destabilizing influence of terrorism on Turkey's social, political, and economic condition, on September 12,1980, General Kenan Evren, chief of the Military General Staff, seized power, suspended the constitution, dissolved the Assembly, proclaimed martial law, and Installed a military-civilian cabinet. From 1978 to 1982, the Turkish National Security Council recorded approximately 43,000 incidents of terrorism In Turkey and an average of 28 terrorist-related deaths per day. Until November 1983, the nation remained under martial law; Evren held the presidency for a seven-year term.

One wing of the PKK, which eluded the authorities during the coup, escaped and gathered In Syrla under the protection of the Syrian government. Abdullah Ocalan took up residence In Damascus. Another faction of the PKK settled In Germany. While consolidating Its position In the Bekaa Valley, West Germany, and Sweden, the PKK strengthened Its resolution to wage guerrilla warfare by organizing a military wing, the Kurdistan I Freedom Brigade (Hazen Rizgariya Kurdistan [HRK]).

In 1979, the PKK held its first congress at the village of Fis near Diyarbakir. It used this opportunity to end feuds with Kurdish groups, Including the KUK, call for increased military training and reorganization, and condemn the actions of Turkish government authorities.

After the 1980 military intervention, Ocalan attempted to consolidate the organ tonal structure of the PKK to give himself greater authority. He declared himself sole leader of his group, and consolidated his position by severely punishing potential adversaries within the group. His response to dissidents was so severe that it caused splits within the PKK. Those who were threatened by Apo's brutality and managed to escape joined various other Kurdish or ideological organizations. Meanwhile, Apo continued to strengthen PKK's structure.

In 1982, the PKK's second congress of August 20-25 was held in Lebanon's Ayn alHulwah region. Here, the group's Syrian wing formulated plans for an armed stingily to establish control of the heavily Kurdish-populated region in southeastern Turkey.

The PKK's congress outlined three phases of operation: strategic defense, balance of forces, and strategic attack. The first phase, expected to last until approximately 1995, was Intended to conduct propaganda activities, carry out attacks against "state collaborators," and begin preparation for an armed engagement phase. The second phase, from 1995 to 2000, was designed to create zones that the Kurds could utilize for escape and evasion, establish alliances with other left-wing Turkish radicals, and build up forces capable of engaging in a large-scale "guerrilla war." The third phase, to begin sometime after 2000, called for abandoning the defensive strategy for a full-scale offensive that was expected to turn Into a popular uprising.

Thus far It appears that the PKK has succeeded In fulfilling the objective of the first phase and Is actively evolved in the second. This assessment is evidenced by the successful use of propaganda activities and the beginning of an intense terrorist campaign against Turkey In stage one. In stage two, the PKK consolidated its power by creating alliances with left-wing groups to strengthen its position and Increase Its readiness for conducting a large-scale "guerrilla war" In Turkey.

By 1994, the U. S: Department of State estimated that the PKK had grown to about 10,000 members,15,000 armed supporters, and 60,000-75,000 part-time guerrillas. It also maintains that the group has "hundreds of thousands" of sympathizers in Turkey and Europe.


The PKK Is led by Abdullah Ocalan. Five years after the military intervention of 1980, Apo officially formed a PKK military wing, the Kurdish National Liberation Front (ERNK), in 1985. Soon after, the group formed another military more the Kurdistan Popular Liberation Army (ARGK). ARGK was militarily more effective than ERNK since it employed better and more organized tactics than ERNK. Eventually, ARGK came to function as the main branch of the PKK's military operations and ERNK became the organization's front bureau.

During 1994 and 1995, the PKK began to undergo several Internal personnel changes of assignment. In 1994, Ocalan, formerly secretary general of PKK, changed his title to chairman. In 1995, the following were elected to PKK's leadership council to serve with Ocalan: Cemil , Bayik (Cuma), Duran Kalkan (Abbas), Murat Karayilan (Cemal), Halil Atac (Ebubekir), Mustafa Karasu (Huseyin All), and All Haydar Kaytan (Fuat).

In April 1995, many of PKK's major bureaus underwent significant internal changes. Despite this reorganization, however, many individuals in the PKK continued to fulfill several committee positions simultaneously. The changes Involved the PKK's military bureau, front bureau, organization education bureau, political bureau and ideological bureau. A major change occurred within the PKK's military wing when Sulayman Kaydi (Celal) was assigned to the military bureau (ARGK) and Cemil Bayik, who led the military wing, was reassigned to another bureau. Because reassignment from leadership positions is often based on Ocalan's perception of that leader's incompetence, this change may indicate internal tension between Ocalan and certain leading members of the PKK.

The PKK's front bureau, known as ERNK, is directed by Karasu (who also serves on the leadership bureau), Faysal Ates (Ferhan), and another individual known as Zuhat. The group's political bureau is led by Cemil Bayik, Human Ucar (Mahir), and Ali Sapan, who is the PKK's European spokesman. The organization-education bureau is led by Bayik and Kalkan. The ideological bureau is headed by Kalkan, Dursun Ali Kucuk, and another person who is unknown and residing in Europe. Finally, the PKK's central disciplinary board is comprised of Mahmut Dora (Serhat), Selahattin Gun (Dogan), Engin Karaaslan (Haydar), Salih Kubat (Sinan), and Osman Tehin (Sari-Blond-Sadun).

The PKK's central executive cotter is comprised of twenty-nine members including Ocalan. The community Includes Cemil Bayik (Cuma), Duran Kalkan (Abbas), Murat Karayilan (Cemal), Mustafa Karasu (Huseyin Ali), Halil Atac (Ebubekir), Ali Haydar Kaytan (Fuat), Semdin Sakik (Buyuk Zeki), Sabri Ok, Ahmet Uman (Baver), Hidir Sarikaya (Ekrem), Dursun All Kucuk, Mehmet Esiyok (Berxwedan), Mehmet Can Yuce, Mahmut Gun (Cemal), a Syrian national using the name of Khabat, and an Iraq Kurd known as Halll. Those elected as alternates to the central executive community In 1995 Included Muzer Ayata, Nedim Seven (Behzat), Nedim Ates (Kerem), Nizamettin Tas (Botan), and Sakine Altinmakas (Fatma).

The Workers' Party of Kurdistan (PKK)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Turkey