Updated: Jan 9, 2020
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and its Syrian spinoff, the YPG, are cult-like radical movements that intertwine Marxism, feminism, Leninism and Kurdish nationalism into a hodge-podge of ideology, drawing members through the extensive use of propaganda that appeals to these modes of thought.
Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the PKK, took inspiration from American anarchist Murray Bookchin in creating his philosophy, which he calls “Democratic Confederalism.”
The PKK spin-off group YPG represents most of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria.
With Western political support, they have gained popularity and garnered an impressive amount of support from anarchists and military veterans in the West, some of whom have left the comfort of their home countries to fight with the group.
One of their most productive marketing tools has been to use young, attractive female fighters as the face of the guerrillas. During their fight against Daesh, the PKK has saturated the media with images of these young female “freedom fighters,” using them as a marketing tool to take their cause from obscurity to fame. Some of these female fighters in the YPJ are fighting alongside their male counterparts under the direction of the U.S. in the SDF.
Here is an excerpt:
In Syria, the PKK’s goal “is to establish a self-ruled region in northern Syria,” an area with a significant Arab population.
When PKK fighters cross the border into Turkey, they become ‘terrorists’, according to the United States and European Union, but when they cross back into Syria they are miraculously transformed into ‘guerrilla” fighters waging a war for democracy as the principal component of the Syrian Democratic Force. The reality is, however, that whether on the Turkish or Syrian side of the border, the PKK uses the same methods, pursues the same goals, and relies largely on the same personnel. The YPG is the PKK.
Child Soldiers: Forced recruitment, kidnapping, and murder by the PKK and YPG.
Within the past few years, Kurds have gone from almost total obscurity to front page news. What doesn’t get reported however is how these terrorist groups under the guise of being a revolutionary movement for Independence have carried out numerous atrocities including kidnappings and murder – not to mention their involvement in trafficking narcotics.
It’s important to keep in mind that this and previous articles are never meant to imply that the crimes committed by Western-backed militia groups are in any way a reflection on the entire Kurdish ethnicity. Although the term Kurds may be used generalizations and blanket statements are neither intended nor applicable.
Kurds are not a monolithic united group of people that all share identical political aspirations, goals, the same language or religion. They are a diverse group of people that are spread across the globe and have predominately lived in or around the four countries that some are looking to divide and establish an independent Kurdistan on.
The militia groups more or less exist for the purpose of creating instability, division, and chaos, in the region, for the benefit of Israel and its Western allies. Afterall, a divided people are much easier to control than a united one. Causing tension between Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian, and other groups in the region is a goal that the United States and their allies have had their eyes on for a while.
Therefore it’s important to always remember that there are many Kurds that do not support these armed groups, nor are they interested in carving out the Near and Middle East and illegally establishing an independent country in the Middle East.
Kurdish families are demanding that the PKK stop kidnapping minors. It started on April 23, 2017 the day Turkey marked its 91st National Sovereignty and Children’s Day. While children celebrated the holiday in western Turkey, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) kidnapped 25 students between the ages of 14 and 16 on the east side of the country, in the Lice district of Diyarbakir.
Although the PKK kidnapped more than 330 minors in the following six months, the Bockum family was the first in the region who put up a tent near their home to start a sit-in protest, challenging the PKK and demanding that it return their son. Sinan was returned to the family on May 4. Al-Monitor reported this incident from the beginning in great detail.
As Bebyin Somuk reported in her article, the PKK and PYD still kidnap children in Turkey and Syria. She states: “As I previously wrote for Kebab and Camel, the PKK commits war crimes by recruiting children as soldiers. Some of the PKK militants that surrendered yesterday were also the PKK’s child soldiers. The photos clearly show that these children are not more than sixteen years old. The Turkish army released video of the 25 PKK militants surrendering in Nusaybin.”
Thousands of children are serving as soldiers in armed conflicts around the world. In 1989, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 38, proclaimed: “State parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons who have not attained the age of 15 years do not take a direct part in hostilities.” Since then, UNICEF and the UN Security Council took steps to end the recruitment of children in conflict and war.
The PKK: Recognized as a terrorist organization by the U.S. EU, and Turkey.
The PKK often recruits children some as young as 7-12 years. In 2010, a Danish national daily newspaper, Berlingske Tidende, published a story about the PKK’s child soldiers. According to that report, there were around 3,000 young militants in the PKK’s training camps. The youngest child at the PKK training camps was eight or nine years old. They were taught Abdullah Öcalan’s life story (the jailed leader of the PKK) and how to use weapons and explosives.
Despite the Deed of Commitment, the PKK continues to recruit minors.
After that story was published, the PKK encountered strong reactions from human rights organizations worldwide. The same year, UNICEF released a statement voicing its “profound concern” about the PKK’s recruitment of child soldiers. In October 2013, the PKK, represented by HPG (the PKK’s military wing) commander Ms. Delal Amed, signed the Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict. This document, drawn up by the Geneva Call NGO, is dedicated to promoting respect by armed non-state actors for international humanitarian norms in armed conflict. Despite this commitment, the PKK continued to recruit minors.
The PKK abducted children during the peace process.
On March 21, 2013, PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan called for a cease-fire that included the PKK’s withdrawal from Turkish soil and an eventual end to armed struggle. The PKK announced that they would obey, stating that 2013 would be the year of conclusion, either through war or through peace.
But that did not happen. Instead, the PKK abducted 2052 children aged between 2012 and 2017 while the peace process was still going on, according to Turkish security records. The PKK took these children and trained them. However, because these children were not involved in any criminal activities, when they were captured by or surrendered to, Turkish security forces, Turkish courts did not prosecute them, so most of them were released. This was the Turkish state’s goodwill gesture for the sake of the peace process, for whatever it’s worth.
Unfortunately, once released, most of these children joined the YDG-H, the PKK’s new youth wing, and began to perpetrate illegal and/or violent events in Kurdish populated cities and towns. The YDG-H began to emerge in early 2013 and spread rapidly after the peace process’ beginning. Then, after the 7 June 2015 election, the YDG-H began to attack security forces and civilians in cities and towns such as Cizre, or in Diyarbakır’s Sur neighborhood, with heavy weapons, and to dig trenches and erect barricades in side streets.
Video summary: A growing number of Kurdish families in Turkey are calling for the return of their children, who they say have been abducted by the Kurdish rebel group, the PKK. The PKK denies the claim, but with the Turkish president stepping in, the issue is putting pressure on an already stalled peace process. Omer Kablan reports from Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish south east.
The HDP assaulted the mothers demanding their children
In May 2014, mothers from across Turkey whose children had been recruited by the PKK held a sit-in protest in front of the Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality building and called on the PKK to release their children. Their children were mostly 14-15 years old at that time. Some families claimed that their sons and daughters were kidnapped by the PKK against their will. The Diyarbakır Municipality, administered by the HDP, used water cannons to disperse the mothers. HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş even claimed that these mothers were hired by the Turkish National Intelligence Organization. Despite the resistance coming from the PKK and the HDP, the families continued their protest, and some families’ children were released by the PKK.
The PKK established a child-wing called YPS-Zarok.
The Tweet left, from the Yüksekova district shows the child-wing recently established by the PKK called YPS-Zarok (Child) with the headline “YPS-Zarok announcement from the children of the resistance.”
The PYD, the PKK’s Syria branch, is also known for its recruitment of child soldiers.
U.S.’s “reliable partner” the YPG also recruits children.
A Human Rights Watch report, “Syria: Kurdish Forces Violating Child Soldier Ban” provides a list of 59 children, ten of them under the age of fifteen, recruited for YPG or YPJ forces since July 2014.
International humanitarian law and the Rome Statute that set up the International Criminal Court classify the recruitment of under-15-year-olds as a war crime. While the Trump Administration does not recognize the YPG as a terrorist organization and supports them as a local partner in the region, the YPG continues to recruit child soldiers.
It’s clear that the U.S. sees the PYD as a “reliable partner” in the fight against ISIS. However, the Trump Administration should notice the fact that the PYD is not an independent organization. It is linked to the PKK and recruiting minors under 18. The decision to found the PYD was made in 2002 during a PKK Congress in Qandil. The PYD also has a bylaw stating that “Abdullah Öcalan is the leader of the PYD.”
In summary, the YPG is the Syrian wing of the PKK, and recruits children just like the PKK. Regardless of what acronym they go by, whether it be the YPG, PKK, PYD, YPJ or any of the other alphabet soup combinations, they commit crimes against civilians in both Syria and Turkey all with the arms, funds, and training received from the United States.
Female PKK fighters killing Turkish soldiers.
SouthFront reported on female PKK fighters who have killed Turkish soldiers. “The women fighters command of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have released a statement, claiming PKK female fighters killed 160 Turkish military servicemen in 2016. According to the statement, the women fighters command of the PKK carried out 115 operations against Turkish government forces in 2016. The group also vowed to ‘proceed the struggle during the new year for a life of freedom and until victory is achieved.’”
The PKK is also killing Kurds under the guise of protecting their rights.
“Senior PKK leader Cemil Bayık, in an interview with the Fırat News Agency (ANF) on Aug. 8, said, ‘Our war will not be confined to the mountains like it was before. It will be spread everywhere without making a distinction between mountains, plains or cities. It will spread to the metropolises.’ Terrorist Bayık’s statement signaled that the PKK would take increasing aim against civilians, targeting civilian areas more than ever. And it is happening.
Since July 15, 2016 the day when the Gülenist terror cult, FETÖ, launched its failed military coup attempt to topple the democratically-elected government, the PKK perpetrated dozens of terrorist attacks, killing 21 civilians and injuring 319 others – most of them Kurdish citizens.”
According to The Washington Institute: On November 18, 2009 FBI Director Robert Mueller met with senior Turkish officials to address U.S.-Turkish efforts targeting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), also known as Kongra-Gel. A press release from the U.S. embassy in Ankara following the meeting stressed that U.S. officials ‘strongly support Turkey’s efforts against the PKK terrorist organization’ and highlighted the two countries’ long history of working together in the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime.
The PKK: Terrorist organization and foreign narcotics trafficker.
These discussions are timely. Despite Ankara’s recent bid to alleviate the Kurdish issue — a bid referred to as the ‘democratic opening’ — the PKK is one of a growing number of terrorist organizations with significant stakes in the international drug trade.
In October, the U.S. Treasury Department added three PKK/Kongra-Gel senior leaders to its list of foreign narcotics traffickers. The PKK, along with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), is one of only a few organizations worldwide designated by the U.S. government as both a terrorist organization and a significant foreign narcotics trafficker.”Drug smuggling is reported to be the main financial source of PKK terrorism, according to the organization International Strategic Research, whose detailed report can be seen HERE.