PKK Violence and Kurdish Identity

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  • Topic: Kurdish people, Turkey, Kurdistan
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PKK Violence and Kurdish Identity

Abraham Alshawish

His 482
Professor Forbes
Firday, May, 15th, 2009


The question that is the missing piece of the puzzle for peace in the Middle East is asked by very few: Will the Kurds ever have a state of their own? When one looks at the Middle East post World one, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, one sees the formation of countries like Trans-Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Lebanon, and other nearby regions. Colonial powers had promised lands to a variety of tribal leaders throughout the region but one- the Kurds. This semester we had the chance to explore questions that are vital to the understanding of this course. Questions such as: what is a terrorist? How do we define terrorism? What is state terrorism? How does one become a terrorist? Why does one choose the path of a terrorist? When and why do women involve themselves in terrorism? Throughout the search for these answers we saw a change in our own perspective of terrorism and for some we even reached a new understanding of why people do the things they do in the name of freedom, religion, or any ideology for that matter. We learned that terrorism is a tactic that has been used by many groups of people throughout the centuries and for some of these groups, they now sit in power and run governments they created through terrorism. As a class we formed our own definition of terrorism since there is no universal definition of the term. The definition we agreed stated that: Terrorism is a tactic or method employed by individuals and groups in resistance to a state or in service of a state to effect or prevent social and/or political change.  It includes the premeditated use of violence or the threat of violence to systematically induce fear and anxiety in a civilian population. Considering the above definition and researching about the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), I realize that this definition of terrorism labeled the PKK a terrorist organization. Like many students, I found myself looking at terrorism through a new lens. I realized, without a doubt, the PKK fits the description of a terrorist organization and they use terrorism to achieve more rights and the chance to create a homeland. After reading many facts behind the PKK, other than being labeled as terrorists, they define themselves as an anti-colonial, nationally oppressed people that have taken arms due to a lack of rights and ill treatment by the Turkish government which has made them want their own land. From the above statement one can easily state that they are a secessionist movement that wanted to have their own land to govern and rule from the south eastern area of Turkey which they would rename Kurdistan.

The PKK was good for the Kurdish people in the sense that it revived a sense of Kurdish identity in a people that were insecure of themselves. The violence of the PKK against the Turkish government incited Kurds to look into their roots and strengthened their identity as a people, and that was a good thing, however, the tactics the PKK took under the guise of being an oppressed people that wanted freedom did not justify the innocent civilian cost and infrastructure damage they inflicted in Turkey. One can easily sympathize with the plight of the Kurds after reading the many illegal laws that worked against them in Turkey and assault they endured, but the PKK was more hurtful to the Kurdish people than beneficial. My argument for this paper is that if a minority or ethnic group is oppressed in a democratic society, then terrorism can be a method that can strengthen an identity of a people, however, it does not help achieve long term political goals and does more harm than good for a people in the long run. Since the majority of Kurds inhabit Turkey, this research paper will focus on the endeavors of the Kurdish people in Turkey through the time period of when the PKK...
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