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Appendix E – Statement of Reasons – Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)
known as: Freedom
and Democratic Congress of Kurdistan, Hezan Parastina Gel (HPG), KADEK, KG,
KHK, Kongra Gel, Kongra Gele Kurdistan, Kurdish Freedom Falcons,
Liberation Hawks, Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress,
Freedom Brigade, Kurdistan Freedom Hawks, Kurdistan Halk Kongresi,
Labor Party, Kurdistan Ozgurluk Sahinleri, Kurdistan People’s Congress, New
PKK, Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan, People’s Congress of Kurdistan, People’s
Defence Force, PKK,
Teyrbazên Azadiya Kurdistan)
following information is based on publicly available details about the PKK. To
the Australian Government’s knowledge, these details are accurate and reliable
and have been corroborated by classified information.
for listing a terrorist organisation
102 of the Criminal Code provides that for an organisation to be listed
as a terrorist organisation, the Attorney-General must be satisfied on
reasonable grounds that the organisation:
(a) is directly or indirectly engaged
in, preparing, planning, or assisting in or fostering the doing of a terrorist
act (whether or not a terrorist act has occurred or will occur); or
doing of a terrorist act (whether or not a terrorist act has occurred or will
of the organisation
The PKK was formally established by
Abdullah Ocalan in 1978. The organisation adopted a communist ideology but from
its inception was primarily committed to the creation of an independent Kurdish
state in south-eastern Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Turkey. After the end of Cold
War, the PKK increasingly emphasised its role as a Kurdish nationalist
movement. The group periodically has sought to increase its popularity by
exploiting the religious sentiment of the Kurdish community, but the
organisation remains predominantly secular.
The PKK’s objectives have
changed over time, in line with Turkey’s evolving political environment. The
organisation now calls for autonomy for Kurds within Turkey and seeks to
promote and advance the rights of Kurds living in Turkey, specifically the
right to maintain ethnic identity. The PKK has consistently demonstrated a
willingness to use violence in order to achieve these objectives.
Ocalan, currently serving life imprisonment in Turkey, is still considered the
leader and figurehead of the PKK; however, in practice, the group’s day-to-day
affairs are run by Murat Karayilan. Other key leaders include Cemil Bayik,
Duran Kalkan, Fehman Huseyin and Riza Altun.
precise strength of the PKK is not known; however, it is widely believed the
group numbers approximately four to five thousand militants, the majority of
whom are based in northern Iraq. Additionally, the group draws on considerable
logistical support from a large number of sympathisers among the Kurdish
community, particularly in south-east Turkey, but also in Syria and Iran.
derives most of its financial resources from drug trafficking, which is
reported to generate hundreds of millions of US dollars for the group. At
different times, the PKK is assessed to have controlled up to 80 per cent of
the European illicit drug market.
January 2012, under the US State Department’s Foreign Narcotics Kingpin
Designation Act, the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets
Control designated three Moldavia-based individuals as Specially Designated
Narcotics Traffickers for acting for or on behalf of the PKK. One individual
was identified as a high-ranking PKK member.
PKK also generates income through extortion, illegal immigration, human
trafficking, money laundering and prostitution rackets. Revenue is also raised
by collecting ‘taxes’, through voluntary means or coercion, from Kurdish
diaspora communities around the world. PKK-related criminal activity is
especially prevalent in Europe. The European Police Office warned in its
European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2012 that the PKK remains
committed to using Europe as a logistical support base for funding, as well as
for recruitment, training and propaganda. Funds are also raised through
publication sales, grants, aid campaigns and fundraising activities organised
by PKK branches in Europe.
PKK members are recruited from the main Kurdish areas in south-east Turkey;
however, some are drawn also from cities in the country’s west. In addition,
the group recruits from the Kurdish population in Iran and Syria and from the
Kurdish diaspora in Europe. Most recruitment in rural areas of Turkey occurs
through personal acquaintance. In urban areas and in Europe, a network of PKK
members and sympathisers working in non-governmental organisations and
predominantly Kurdish political parties manage the recruitment process. The
group’s external recruitment practices were highlighted in February 2010 when
police in France and Italy detained at least 20 people for alleged involvement
in training and recruitment for the PKK.
activity of the organisation
or indirectly engaged in the doing of terrorist acts
PKK has continued to have extensive, direct involvement in most terrorist acts
occurring in Turkey since the group was last listed in 2009. The group has been
particularly active since February 2011 when it ended a unilateral ceasefire in
place since April 2009. Most attacks appear to be very specifically targeted,
for example, armed assaults against Turkish military forces using small-arms
fire. However, there also have been several indiscriminate, mass-casualty
attacks employing both suicide bombings and vehicle-borne improvised explosive
devices (IED). While most attacks have targeted Turkish security forces in the
southeast, a number have targeted places frequented by civilians or tourists,
including a shopping area in Ankara and a major shopping, tourist and leisure
district in Istanbul. The PKK also was responsible for a ferry hijacking in the
Marmara Sea, near Istanbul.
The PKK has also conducted
kidnappings, including of Westerners. In the latest incident on 2 June 2012, a
British tourist reportedly was kidnapped but was released the following day.
recent attacks for which responsibility has been claimed by or reliably
attributed to the PKK include:
1 March 2012: Fifteen police officers and a civilian were wounded
in a remotely controlled IED attack by suspected PKK militants targeting a
police bus in the Imrahor Street area of Istanbul. The explosion reportedly
occurred as the bus passed the headquarters of the ruling Justice and
24 November 2011: Three Turkish employees of a Canada-based
energy company were killed by PKK militants in an attack targeting the Selmo
oil field at Kozluk, Batman province.
11 November 2011: A PKK militant carrying a suspected explosive
device hijacked a passenger ferry and took hostage 18 passengers and six crew
members in the Marmara Sea, near Istanbul.
29 October 2011: At least two people were killed and as many as
20 others wounded when a suspected PKK suicide bomber detonated her explosives
outside a teahouse near the office of the Justice and Development Party in the
town of Bingol in Bingol province.
27 September 2011: PKK militants kidnapped a total of eight
teachers and a village guard in five armed attacks in the Pulumur district of
Tunceli province; in the village of Gundogdu in Elazig province; and in the
villages of Ciftlibahce, Dolunay and Cavundur in Diyarbakir province.
17 August 2011: Eight soldiers and a village guard were killed
and a further 14 soldiers wounded when suspected PKK militants detonated four
IEDs consecutively against a military convoy on the Hakkari-Cukurca highway in
the Cukurca district of Hakkari province.
14 July 2011: Thirteen soldiers were killed and seven others
wounded when PKK militants ambushed a security patrol with small-arms and
grenades in Silvan district, Diyarbakir province.
26 May 2011: A police officer and seven civilians were wounded
when suspected PKK militants detonated an IED at a bus stop near the Akmerkez
shopping centre in the Etiler district of Istanbul.
4 May 2011: At least one police officer was killed and two others
wounded in a combined small-arms and IED attack by suspected PKK militants
targeting a bus transporting security force personnel on the outskirts of the
city of Kastamonu in Kastamonu province. The attack occurred shortly after
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan held an election rally in the city.
31 October 2010: Thirty-two people were wounded – including 15
police officers – when a suicide bomber attacked a bus carrying police officers
in Taksim Square, Istanbul. An IED planted nearby failed to explode.
19 June 2010: Nine soldiers were killed and 14 others wounded
when PKK militants attacked an army border unit in the Semdinli area of Hakkari
province. A further two soldiers were killed in a separate IED incident in
Hakkari on the same day.
or indirectly preparing or planning the doing of terrorist acts
the HPG alias, the group issued a statement in January 2012 declaring that
“2012 will be the year of a struggle to ensure a free Leader and Free Kurdistan
through an effective resistance and a Popular Revolutionary War”. A military
intelligence report, which was made public in mid-February 2012, warned also of
a PKK plan to escalate its terrorist campaign. PKK leaders had reportedly
discussed their intentions to conduct large-scale attacks throughout the
south-east, with the aim of inflicting major losses on the Turkish military.
The group also planned to attack police and civilians in urban areas using
the basis of the above information, ASIO assesses the PKK continues to directly
and/or indirectly engage in, prepare, plan, assist, advocate or foster the
doing of terrorist acts involving threats to life and serious property damage.
This assessment is corroborated by information provided by reliable and
credible intelligence sources.
In the course of pursuing its objectives,
the PKK is known to have committed or threatened action:
causes, or could cause, serious damage to property, the death of persons or
endangers a person’s life; and
the intention of advancing the PKK’s political, religious or ideological causes;
the intention of intimidating the public and sections of the public.
to other terrorist groups or networks
The PKK maintains close links with
its Iranian affiliate, the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK). Like the PKK, PJAK
has training camps in northern Iraq. Iran has designated the PKK as a terrorist
organisation and both Iran and Turkey are reported to have conducted probable
coordinated military operations against both groups in their shared border areas.
There are no known PKK links to
Australia; however, it is likely elements of Australia’s Kurdish community
remain sympathetic to the Kurdish nationalist cause.
to Australian interests
There are no known direct threats
from the PKK to Australian interests. The PKK is not known to be engaged in any
peace or mediation processes.
by the UN and other countries
The PKK is listed as a proscribed terrorist organisation
by many governments, including the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand. The
organisation is proscribed by the United States government under the name of
Kongra Gel. The PKK is listed by the European Union for the purposes of its
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