PKK: Kurkish guerrilla movement for sexual equality: with addition

This is a CNN video report.  There’s a link to the fuller report below it.  It is a remarkable story about which one would want to know more.  Just how, for example, do everyday gender roles, presumably so entrenched in these peoples’ background, get replaced, if they do?  Can a group with members known as terrorists actually be fighting for feminist values? 

(The tensions in the story are so unresolved, it may remind you of a BBC April 1st production.)

More detail are in the  story entitled:  “Female fighters: We won’t stand for male dominance.”

Addition:  There seemed to me originally two remarkable things about the CNN story.  First, it seems pretty unusual for a group of men to say that they need to include and empower women to solve the problems they want to address.  Secondly, the CNN report seems bizarre since it appears to be reporting on what it thinks of as ‘feminist terrorists’ without any recognition that there could be a problem with that.  There’s a air of BBC surrealism about it, or at least it seems to me. 

Still, since philosophers often like to think about questions which they don’t think they can answer, it might be a good idea to recognize that anything like ‘the truth’ about such groups is extremely difficult to ascertain.  That’s not just because of the cultural difference, but also because of the fact that inbetween me/us and them stands a body of highly political and conflicting opinions.

27 thoughts on “PKK: Kurkish guerrilla movement for sexual equality: with addition

  1. One has to understand that the so-called “terrorists” are more often than not given that label for political reasons. The PKK presumably opposes the Turkish state (for whatever political, historical reasons), and since Turkey is a “valuable” US ally, it wouldn’t be a stretch if one assumes that the PKK has been declared a terrorist group to appease Turkey.

    Somewhat similarly, the Maoists in Nepal waged a decade-long civil war in their country to root out not only the corrupt rule of the monarchy (that was based on patriarchy) but also raise the status of women at the same time. Without women the protracted Maoist revolution against a corrupt monarchy wouldn’t have had achieved such remarkable success.

    Anyway, the larger point is that one must be a tad careful about labeling groups terrorists and then wondering if those groups can stand for feminist values.

  2. VL: Good point. I think the English “known as” allows that what follows might not apply, in contrast to “known to be.” For example, I might say someone is known as a nice guy, but isn’t really.

    Your question has led me to wonder if that’s right, so I went to the Oxford English Dictionary, which has “to know as, to be familiarly acquainted with under the name of; pass., to be commonly called.” “Commonly called” is pretty much what I meant, and what I took the CNN story to support. That doesn’t mean they are terrorists. Still, I’m not entirely sure of this.

  3. why was my comment deleted? huh? what you want real news you have to listen to both sides of a story this news is B.S. thats what it is it is disrespect to all the families that live here and lost a family member to this bloody orginization!!

  4. 40000 dead people, if 40000 dead people do not count as a terrorist act what does? USA lost 2 towers and many lives to such things, why? the only thing Al Qaide wants is the USA to pull out of the Middle East, so what now i call Al Qaide freedom fighters??? No, you are not a fredeom fighter once you start killing innocent people, last year the PKK atacked a school bus, why do i not see that on CNN?? it was a school bus with elementary students and middle school students on it. write about that for a change CNN

  5. sexcual equality? since when ? all the terrorists that surrender to our troops hve stated that they were being raped in the mountains by these men, and if it is about womens rights, since when have women been treated differently i this country??? they want to fight for womens rights they should go attack Saudi Arabia not Turkey Turkey is the most modern Muslim country, women dont get treated bad here, they are respected and do not have to cover up in anyway. so what is it that the PKK fights for? they fight for land, they want land thats what they want, nothing more

  6. those women that they talked too, they have been on the mountains since they were 9, it is called brainwashing what do you expect them to say. most have been up there since they were 9 years old, at the oldest they are kidnapped at 14

  7. Your first comment was deleted because you said you hoped we’d burn in hell. We delete abusive comments, and that counts as abusive. The comments above, however, are not abusive so we’ve left them. If you could give us some links to pages with further information to help us to learn more that would be useful.

  8. AA: there is a rule for this site which we do enforce: Be Nice. Your original remark was clearly in violation of that rule.

    In addition, you haven’t really gotten that the CNN story is mentioned in order that it be discussed. It is not generally endorsed. You are raising very good questions about it, but you are mistaken, I think, about what I’m trying to do here.

  9. abusive comments? and calling the PKK rebel group or freedom fighters isnt abusive? every single man in this country has to serve for the army in this country , i went to the millitary and i served for my country just like everyone else does. it is our duty, you know what happened to my little brother? he died because coward PKK planted a bomb inside a car and the bomb exploded right next to his school bus, how about that for abusive. PKK İS a terrorist group not rebels they arent fighting for womens rights Turkey has every single right for them. it is the most modern muslim country that exists you want women freedom then go to fight with Saudi Arabia or all the other muslim countries. they want a land to call Kurdistan that is all

  10. AA: you are mistaken in your understanding of what is going on here. It is possible to discuss ideas without agreeing with them.

    Your description of your brother is tragic, and I am very sorry to hear it.

  11. PKK: Kurkish guerrilla movement for sexual equality: with addition
    this is the headline of the topic, guerrilla? what i am trying to say is PKK is not guerrilla movement they are a terrorist organization, they bomb buildings, they attack our troops in a cowardly way, the point is they kill people either doing their duty or they kill the innocent, this is why i am against the PKK being called guerrilla

  12. they say they are fighting for womens rights, i can tell you first hand this is far from the truth all the women at those camps are brain washed most of the memers of the PKK begin as children, children as young as 7-8 are brainwashed that the southeast of Turkey is there own land that they deserve it to be called Kurdistan, while this is not possible.

  13. AA: This is getting repetitive and we need to end and give other people a chance to join in.

    There is also a language problem; see below from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

    Main Entry: 1guer·ril·la
    Variant(s): or gue·ril·la \gə-ˈri-lə, ge-, g(y)i-\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Spanish guerrilla, from diminutive of guerra war, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German werra strife — more at war
    Date: 1809
    : a person who engages in irregular warfare; especially as a member of an independent unit carrying out harassment and sabotage

  14. I can’t believe my eyes. CNN, the leading pres in the world, making propaganda of such a terrorist organization. PKK, which is a brutal terrorist organization, killed more than 30 thousand people in Turkey and this ridiculous article is basically saying that these are the people fighting against male dominance. Before posting such a crap, read other CNN columns first, they killed 17 people just 3 days ago. This is ridiculous.

    What about if I write a story about a group of boys whose father has been killed by american soldiers in Iraq, fighting against US soldiers and ask sympathy for them? PKK killed more than 30 thousand people including both kurds and turkish people. Do you get it, 30 THOUSAND lives regardless of their gender, age, race. Do responsibly whatever you are doing.

  15. LegalAlien, Thank you for your opinion. The intent here is to discuss the story, not endorse it.

    For the record, lots of Americans,Europeans, etc., do not support the war in Iraq and one could expect to find sympathy in many places for young militant boys in iraq, if not approval of their killing soldiers.

  16. To follow up on my earlier comment – apparently there has been considerable scholarly attention to the “martial feminism” of the women participants in the Tamil Tigers liberation movement. One such article is Miranda Alison’s “Cogs in the Wheel? Women in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam,” published in Civil Wars 64: 37-54, 2003. (This one was accessible via my university library; most of the others are not.)

    I wonder at the rhetorical purposes such inclusionary policies may serve for the leaders of militant groups. Presumably to some extent it is internal, helping them to recruit and empower women as well as men, thereby expanding the number of people who can be mobilized for their cause. I also suspect, though, that they hope it will make their causes more appealing to influential outsiders, such as this overly idealistic CNN reporter.

  17. hi,
    this is the first time that i`ve visited this site. The headline pulled my attention, and i agree with it. firstly my view on pkk guerrilas is that they are not a terrorist organisation, i mean firstly terrorism needs to defined right? like what alp aydar said “bomb building, attack troops, kill innocent vs vs ” i could agree with that short description ok? so lets take a look at what the turkish state has done to the kurdish nation (which is the most ancient nation within the middle east and mezopotamia) burnt down and caused them to leave their villages, tortured and killed thousands of innocent people in prisons only because they spoke kurdish their mother tongue. if you spoke kurdish, use kurdish names you were accused of being terrorist, onlly up to 2006 a chlild of 12 years old going to school was shot down by 13 bullet because he was kurdish by the armed forces of turks? kurdish reportrs and journalist got prison sentance for a life time only because they wrote for peace and democracy why because they were kurdish. these are only 1 percent of the 100 that the state has done to the poor kurdish nation for years. now think why did pkk ever come up at the first place? these people didnt go mountains because they were bored at home or for adventure did they? they are freedom and democracy fighters and sacrifice their lifes for the poor kurdish nation, and also wants to bring democracy to turkey so not only for kurdish nation also for the turkish and all other ethnic minorities. i am a turkish and kurdish mix girl speaking here and i have joined the gerrila for two years and now back, and unlike what alp aydar says no one is forced to go their i was 21 and finished university degree in sociology and most of the gerrillas are the same ok. pkk belieives and fights for socialism peace and freedom also gender equality. why can`t the turkish state just end the war open up a dialouge and solve the problem which harms the turkish naion aswell. how much money is spent on this war? when their is hunger in turkey some people cannot even find bread to eat. who dies> the poor turkish troops and kurdish guerrilas? pkk dont want alot, basic human rights which the world is entitled to but not the kurdsh nation for example studying in their own language. their is so much to say about this situation, turkey right now is getting ready for another military operation in northern iraq, why why why? this problem has not been solved in military ways for years instead people have died but nothing has changed, this problem should be solved in political dialogue and peacefull ways. pkk will not leave their guns untill turkey says yes for a dialogue.
    i could say these for now but theirs alot to do than say…..


  18. First of all I want to say that I am a proud male feminist =). Then I want to inform Feminist Philosophers about the structure of the PKK. What by western media is called PKK is actually a confedralistic system of human right organizations, women and youth organizations, armed forces in defending purposes and political parties. The thing they have in common is their ideological view on society and democracy. Within this system there are a numerous women organizations and parties such as PAJK – The Party for women’s freedom in Kurdistan, Women’s armed guerilla forces in Kurdistan– YJK Star and the Women’s Assembly in Turkey and Kurdistan that work closely with the Democratic Society Party – DTP.

    Feminism is broadly accepted within the “PKK” and it’s given an essential value within the movement. Like Abdullah Öcalan is saying: the way too achieve freedom and the rights of the people goes true the right of women by first of all changing our self.
    You guys who are interested in the Kurdish feminist movement can read Prison Writings: The Roots of Civilisation by Abdullah Öcalan.

    Alp Aydar bro I as a PKK- member feel with you, but can you tell me the same thing back? I have lost 4 uncles and 3 near cousins in this war. I have lost my village which was burned down by Turkish military. I want this war to end because all it does is hurting Kurds and Turks. You are labeling PKK as a terror organization and that’s very sad, you know why? Because PKK many times has made calls to the Turkish state to sit down on the table and solve the questing by dialog. Turkey always turning this calls down by saying that it does not sit down with terrorist organization, an organization that has millions of supporters in Turkey and Kurdistan. PKK has made a numerous of ceasefires since 1990 only to get the ignorant attitude back as a response from Turkey. How many ceasefires has Turkey called on? The answer is NONE EVER. PKK is labeled as a terror organization by you and the Turkish state is labeled by me as a terror state. But I do feel that this war must end and that both Turkey and “PKK” must sit down and solve the questions by dialog and not by weapons. If Turkey wanted to solve this conflict by dialog then PKK would not turn the initiative down. But Turkey insists on war and destruction of Kurdistan.

    Again thanks Feminist Philosophers for the article.

  19. Now thats crap, PKK never attack civils what so ever! And that schoolbus your talking about, either it was the ergenekon (deep turkish state) who planted the bomb just to blame PKK or it was some other group. PKK doesnt attack civilians. Stop bulls**ing please.

  20. Turkey sees Kurdish nationalism as a threat to its national security and to the modern borders drawn up after World War I. This fear is particularly acute in Turkey, where some 20 million people are Kurdish. The Treaty of Sevres (1920) promised an autonomous Kurdistan but it was never implemented and Turkey has long considered Kurds to be merely “Mountain Turks.” and have put a ban on speaking Kurdish in Turkey, and restrictions on expressions of Kurdish culture, identity and ethnicity. “Anywhere the Kurds live in Turkey, they can’t act like a Kurd. You can’t have your own identification, you can’t have your own history or culture. I realised that they took my nation’s rights, our education, our identity. Then I decided to join the PKK”says a Kurdish PKK rebel. Saying you are Kurdish in Turkey can get you labelled as a terrorist like in the case of 12 year old Ugur Kayamaz who was shot 13 times by the Turkish police in an execution style along with his father for being Kurdish. These kind of incidents are not new to the Kurdish people. That is the reason, the PKK has embraced political violence or as they like to call it “Active defence”. However, last year, in Brussels, Belgium- A European Union court overturned a decision to place the PKK and its political wing on the EU terror list any longer. PKK was later removed from the terror list.

    The PKK leaders say they are not fighting for an independent Kurdish state, or even to replicate or expand the semi autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq. Despite popular belief, the PKK do not want an Independent state. The PKK is a socialist/communist movement which would prefer to avoid governments or borders. Rather, they want their people to speak Kurdish in schools,they want equal rights for women, to receive national identification cards, to avoid persecution by state security forces, and to gain respect and political influence wherever they live. However there is a large number of nationalist Kurds who also want a separate Kurdish state and the PKK has not totally dismissed the dreams of these people. PKK is a very broad ideology with many goals and branches one being PJAK, in Kurdish “Parti bo Jiyani Azadi la Kurdistan” which means “Party of freedom for the women of Kurdistan” it is a Kurdish militant group that has been carrying out attacks in the Kurdish Province of Iran and other Kurdish-inhabited areas. More than half of the members of PJAK are women. The leadership council is Gulistan Dugan a psychology graduate from the University of Tehran. This is due primarily to the fact that PJAK is strongly supportive of women’s rights. PJAK believes that women must have a strong role in government and must be on an equal level with men in leadership positions. Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the PKK, believes that the development of a nation depends on the social status of the female sex. He once famously said “PKK is a woman’s liberation party and any man who cannot handle that can leave” . Like the goals that PKK has in Turkey, PJAK leaders say their long-term goals are to gain political recognition for Kurds in the Kurdish region within the Iranian state. It is mainly focused on replacing Iran’s theocracy with a democratic and federal government, where self-rule is granted to all ethnic minorities of Iran, including Arabs, Azeris and Kurds.

    PKK has become an international struggle and it has many supporters from around the world. Although it primarily fights for Kurds and consists of Kurdish members, there are also fighters from different ethnic origins such as Turkish, German, Persian, English and other. Not only does the PKK fight for freedom on behalf of the Kurds, but they also fight against the oppressive nature of governments for the good of other nations and women. Some PKK members are also fighting to prolong their communal and socialist lifestyle in the mountains and just to be left alone.
    PKK has liberated and opened the eyes of many people. One important person being Nelson Mandela who refused to travel to Turkey and accept the “Ataturk Nobel Peace Prize” until the assimilation and oppression against Kurds was stopped and Abdullah Ocalan released. But the PKK has especially benefited from a resurgence of nationalist feelings among the 40 million Kurds dispersed throughout the region and the rest all over the world. Abdullah Ocalan says that with the PKK, the Kurds have found hope, and for once they have recognition. He says that a nation whose identity was once largely looked down upon, lost and never spoken of, is once again found, respected and being resurrected. Abdullah Ocalan’s moustachioed face is emblazoned on hillsides, flags and small pins the fighters and supporters alike wear on their cloths. The love and respect they have towards Ocalan is cultish. When he was captured in 1999 in Kenya- Nairobi , many Kurds held violent protests, some burning themselves alive. A teenage Kurdish girl set herself on fire outside a Greek embassy in London. Nejla Kanteper, 16, was treated for 30 per cent burns at a west London hospital. Her father, Suleyman Coskun, 45, said “Our family is very political”
    The average Kurdish family is very political and Kurds in general, whom the majorities official religion is Islam, do not follow the religion(s). From a young age children are taught politics instead, and later encouraged to participate in marches, hunger strikes, and protests. This has been used against Kurds and the fighters in Turkey labelling them “Infidels” and “Terrorists” by the Turkish media whom stir hatred against these people by presenting the public with pictures of them eating bacon, not praying and listening to music which is “Haram” (Sin/Dirty) to the strong Islamic country. However, the Turkish government which once denied the existence of a ethnic group called “Kurds” in their lands, are now trying to find a solution to the “Kurdish problem”. The ban on the Kurdish language has been lifted and being able to play Kurdish music freely is a big achievement for Kurds. Whether PKK achieves its ultimate goals or not, one cannot deny that this struggle has so far been a long, painful but liberating and enlightening journey for the Kurdish nation. Its their revolutionary spirits and thirst for knowledge and freedom what makes them so unique and different to their Middle Eastern neighbours. But right now the big dream and number one priority for Kurds is the release of their Leader Abdullah Ocalan who has been in solitary confinement for over 10 years with not even a fair trial.

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