Political conjuncture, intended audience and the ‘Historiography' of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist organisation

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Karakoç E., Taslı İ. T.

Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism, vol.16, no.2, pp.157-172, 2021 (Scopus) identifier


© 2021 Department of Security Studies and Criminology.While the literature on the relations between historiography and politics is usually state-centred, literature on the relation between terrorist organisations and historiography is still being formulated. While this literature has studied terrorist organisations such as the IRA and ISIS, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has not been examined sufficiently. In this research, conducting document analysis, we see how Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the PKK, uses historical facts in his texts addressed to varying interlocutors at different times. When these facts are assessed based on their themes, it is established that such titles as ‘Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, National Pact, and Republic' are at the forefront. It is observed that the mentioned historical facts are being used to create a perception that the PKK is the continuation of the Kurdish movement from the early twentieth century and to foster the political motivation of its cadres and audience. This paper concludes that Öcalan used historical references to create an image of the state with an unchanging character from the past in order to prove that the organisation’s recent political aims are legitimate and necessary.