Started by Piran and led by Abdullah Ocalan

The Story of Founding Kurdistan Workers’ Party And The Turkish Torture Procession

Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) did not represent a struggle movement aimed at obtaining independence only, but it was a unique humanitarian movement in modern human history to restore the life of a people that has been deprived of freedom for long centuries. That was the advantage that has been stolen by Ottomans and those new Turks who came after them. They transformed an authentic people that was one of the most important region elements to a mere human element that was at the mercy of the temper of politicians who deprived Kurds from their original language, national anthems, traditional clothing, and their land upon which they were born and lived for thousands of years.

The relationship between Kurds and Ottomans has been through a long way called Great Deception. Kurds viewed Turks as potential allies, while Ottomans dealt with them only as temporary allies who would be slaves in the future. Although Kurds played a strategic role in favor of Seljuk Turks during their war against Byzantines and Safavids until after World War I. However, this did not excuse Kurds in face of the selfishness of Ottomans.

Since 1515, when Ottoman Selim I concluded his agreement with Kurdish princes, he recognized the sovereignty of the Emirates over Kurdistan; the survival of hereditary rule therein; and the support of Astana to it in case of invasion or attack, in return, Kurdish Emirates shall pay annual fees as an indication of its subordination to the Ottoman Empire. However, four decades later, Ottomans revoked their agreement and concluded another agreement in Amasya when Kurdistan was divided between them and Safavids. This has caused the outbreak of several revolutions throughout Ottoman history by Kurds. They extended to the beginning of the era of Turkish Republic. The most prominent of which was the revolution of Sheikh Said Piran. It was buried early; then, it became the cradle of the revolution of Abdullah Ocalan 50 years later.

The movement of Abdullah Ocalan and his friends who were students came at the beginning of the seventies of the last century. It was a reaction to the Turkish Oppression machine which trampled their lands; and violated their language, and heritage. It made them mere refugees in their lands, especially after the expansion of Turkish racism across all remaining regions following the fall of Ottoman Sultanate. Kurds had to restore the legitimate dream of their revolution, which Turks tried to bury by executing Sheikh Said Piran, the leader of their first revolution. Therefore, emerge of PKK which was on 27 November (1978) was a natural and expected reaction, despite of its long delay.

The party was founded by Ocalan in (1978), and he was arrested in (1999).

The foundation was in line with the leftward extension in the world from Cuba to Vietnam, when a group of Marxist students who were not known in the Kurdish political arena, including the young Abdullah Ocalan who was later chosen as the chairman of the party that, in the beginning, adopted Marxist ideology. Nevertheless, it did not deviate from its national goals, at all, desired by every Kurd, which was the establishment of the Great Independent Kurdistan. Syrian researcher and writer, Abdulbasit Sida, described the PKK as pragmatic. He is accurate in this regard to a large extent. In light of the occupation of most Kurdish lands, any struggle movement had to carefully deal with its surrounding forces in order to ensure continuity and achievement of the final goals.

Sida, the writer, talked about this stating that: “the observer of policies and practices of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), since its formation in 1978 till today, is aware that it has adopted from the beginning four basic rules, which have not been abandoned so far. Moreover, regional conditions that helped it has allowed it more space to move and to continue its struggle movement”.

The results of Ocalan organization had disastrous consequences as Turkish killing machine started to claim Kurdish lives, as it did with Armenians, as they were victims of one killer. More than 40 thousand Kurds died since the outbreak of conflict between the two parties which reached its peak in the mid- nineties of the last century. Thousands of Kurdish villages in southeastern and eastern Turkey were destroyed, forcing hundreds of thousands of Kurds to flee to other parts of Turkey.

There is no specific date for the beginning of organized armed Kurdish activities. However, the announcement of PKK led by Ocalan of the strategy of armed struggle in (1984) was considered an important indicator in this direction. Armed confrontations between government forces and PKK elements continued until the late nineties. The party leader, Abdullah Ocalan, was arrested in February (1999). Thus, a new phase of the organization has started.

Successive Turkish governments tried to deal with the Kurdish issue through a series of procedures of a mostly security nature. There were also some useless economic solutions. The decision of Turkish government to give priority to military resolution was a cause to complicate the economic problems, and increase military spending. (Al- Ghab) project of developing the southeast region of Anatolia was hampered a lot. In addition, as mentioned by Kawthar Al-Rubaie, in his publication under the name of Turkey and Kurdish issue (Torkia W Al- mas’la Al- Kurdia), the economic solution was not the desired solution. He highlighted Kurdish demands and obtainment of some sympathy. Nevertheless, solution approaches remained weak as all governments denied that Kurds were one nationalism. They continued to ensure that all those who were residing in Turkey were Turks, and they called Kurds Turks of the mountains.

The Kurds pursued all efforts to get rid of Turkish tyranny.

PKK started its military activity since its foundation but it significantly escalated subsequent to the Turkish reaction that had an attitude which was closer to liquidation since (1980). This prompted Kurds to flee from their lands and seek refuge to Iraqi Kurdistan and make it a protection zone for their rear bases. They have also created an alliance with Iraqi- Kurdish clans.

At the end of the nineties, Abdullah Ocalan moved to Syria and started managing his organization over there. At that time, the first conference of PKK has been held in Syria in mid- July in (1981). After that, PKK left Syria and settled in northern Iraq, then, it came back again in (1984) towards Syria, from which it began launching armed operations against Turkish military goals, especially in the cities of Hakkari, Mardin, and Sirte, as its first armed operation was in Hakkari. Meanwhile, the armed operations launched by the party against government buildings and Turkish military goals continued. Turkish government declared a state of emergency in (1987). During this period, the organization implemented incursions into a number of villages in eastern Turkey.

Turkey had to make a deal with Israeli Mossad in order to kidnap Abdullah Ocalan.  Consequently, the party had a finishing stroke in (1999) when its leader was arrested and prisoned in Turkey on charges of treason. In his book “The Secret History of The Mossad”, Jordon Thomas, writer, told complicated details of the kidnapping story of the PKK leader for which he devoted a special chapter and tried to trace it between several capitals. He stated that, “the Prime Minister of Turkey, Bulent Ecevit, sought help from Israeli Prime Minister, at that time, Benjamin Netanyahu, to arrest Ocalan who caused troubles to Turkish authorities. He moved worldwide from Beirut, Germany, Italy, to Moscow. He was able to hide so that Turkish intelligence was not able to arrest him”.

Thomas, the writer, continued his story stating that, “Mossad office in Italian capital, Rome, had a pivotal role tracking Ocalan. It received information that he was heading from Netherlands to Kenyan capital, Nairobi, by a private plane to escape pursuit. The information was sent to Mossad office in Nairobi in order to monitor the arrival of Ocalan who immediately, upon his arrival, sought refuge to Greece embassy. His movement was monitored until he decided to leave Kenya informing his companions that he was going to Netherlands again. Israeli intelligence told the information to Turks who, in turn, quickly prepared an alternative plane, in which the last chapter of the long and exciting story took place by arresting him. He was imprisoned for life in Imrali Island in the Sea of Marmara after he had been brought before court and sentenced to death on the charge of “high treason”. After that, the sentence was commuted to “life” imprisonment after abolishing the death sentence under the twinning laws with the European Union.

  1. Hana Ezzo, “The PKK issue and its implications for Iraqi- Turkish relationships” (Kadiat Hizp Al- Omal Al- Kurdistani W Inekasitiha Ala Al- Alelakat Al- Iraqia A;- Turkia), Regional Studies Center, University of Mosul (2012).


  1. Mohammed Al- Saed, “The night of Kidnapping Abdullah Ocalan” (Lailat Ikhtitaf Abdullah Ocalan), Okaz Newspaper, Saudi Arabia (2018).


  1. Kawthar Al-Rubaie, “Turkey and Kurdish issue”, The International Political Journal, Center for Strategic and International Studies, University of Baghdad (2019).