What is terrorism?

The Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK) is internationally recognized as a terrorist organization and listed on the Terrorist Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) website. According to TRAC PJAK was declared a terrorist organization by the Obama administration in 2012.

I was a bit surprised that this universally feared title, terrorist organization, had been given to a group that, from my understanding and knowledge, promotes and fights for complete equality for all.  After I discovered PJAK’s label I became curious to know if I even knew the true definition of a terrorist/terrorist organization. So, I looked it up. The first definition I found and many I discovered afterwards all had a similar pretense. The definitions I found all loosely state that terrorism is “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.” Now, from my understanding of the world and its political realm, this sounded to me like almost every major country I can think of has committed some sort of terrorist action. So why are the only internationally identified terrorist organizations ones without an internationally recognized state? Why is Iran not recognized as a terrorist state? Or easier than that, North Korea? Is the international system just too afraid to break it to them? I mean even the United States falls under the definition, but that could be considered a bit blasphemous.

PJAK states on their European website that they fight against the “ethnocide” that constitutes many of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s objectives. I believe that the ethnocide the Kurdish people have faced over the centuries is universally known. I’m not sure I understand why their social resistance against a state who opposes and acts in violence against their opposition should be considered a terrorist group.

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After these thoughts I was afraid I was being one sided on the matter. So I looked more into Iran’s side of the relationship. From what I read off of the oh-so reliable wikipedia was that Iran allows the Kurds to live within the region and have had Iranian government accepted political parties in the past. However, Kurds have currently lost the ability to have a political party. Moreover, they do lack rights that other Iranian’s possess. They have also suffered many losses to their population due to uprisings and rebellions against the Iranian state. Many critics of the PJAK have mentioned that Turkey and Iraq have shown more violent opposition to Kurds than Iran has committed. Which makes me question why the PJAK has put all of its energy towards Iranian resistance? Iraq has given Kurds a semi-autonomous state and I believe that Iran does not want Kurds to even ask for that freedom.

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At the end of it all I am left to even more confusion and frustration. Questions I still seek answers for after this week of research include…. 1) What is a terrorist group? 2) Why hasn’t anyone created a more direct definition of a terrorist group? … and 3) Why is PJAK only picking on Iran?

Now what I have figured out is that one should ask who is a terrorist organization rather than what is a terrorist organization.

-Natalie

 

EDIT: As I was re-visiting my old diigo posts I came across the Vice video on PJAK I featured in my first blog entry. I watched the first of the three videos on PJAK and the video brought up one of the questions I was puzzled by at the end of this blog entry… The question that may have possibly been answered was question 3) Why is PJAK only picking on Iran? The Vice video mentioned that PJAK is a militia formed in 2004, the militia lacks allies and is commonly associated with the PKK, a kurdish group that fights against Turkey, a US ally. Peshmerga the Iraqi Kurdish militia has previously fought against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, a US enemy. Peshmerga is the only Kurdish militia that receives aid and funding from the US. The Vice video inferences that the PJAK may only fight against Iran because they are trying to create an ally out of the US. Unfortunately I don’t think it’s working out well for PJAK due to the US deeming them as a terrorist organization in 2012…. but keep trekking PJAK the world is forever changing!

If PJAK’s underlying mission is to get US aid it’s interesting…. and a bit nauseating to see how hegemonic the present day world really is.

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