Germans and the PKK: an Unlikely Romance


My two blog posts this week were about how the PKK has an unexpectedly high degree of support in Germany.  My first post is an article for Al Monitor, a news site launched during the Arab Spring which brands itself as “the pulse of the Middle East”. In it, a physician from Hamburg talks about her more than 20 years in the Kurdistan Workers Party in a rare interview. Dr. Medya joined the the PKK in 1993, after she saw the aftermath of the conflict between Turkey’s security forces and the PKK, in which several Kurdish villages were burned. She has since served as a combat medic in the PKK and as a family doctor in Kurdish villages. Many westerners have joined the PKK in the last few months because they want to fight the Islamic state, but according to Dr. Medya, they “cast the war against IS in religious, rather than political terms”. Dr. Medya was motivated to join by the plight of the Kurdish people, whom she describes as “a people who suffered a lot but never lost hope and knew what to do to achieve their aim, even if this meant losing their lives”.

My second post is a news report in Rudaw, an online Kurdish news network. On November 14, 10 members of the German Parliament unfurled the PKK’s flag (pictured above). This move was in support of both the PKK and Nicole Gohlk, a fellow MP who lost her parliamentary immunity last month after waving the PKK’s flag at a pro-Kurd rally in Munich. According to the ten MPs, Germany should no longer classify the PKK as a terrorist organization, particularly in light of its contributions in the coalition against the Islamic State. Initially, it did not make sense to me that there would be so much support for the PKK in Germany. However, upon further research, I found out that Germany has a very large Kurdish immigrant population. Furthermore, many Westerners see the PKK as one of the few Marxist liberalization movements, and also sympathize with and support the ideas the PKK’s tenets of marxism, environmentalism, and gender equality. These two articles suggest that there is a growing degree of support for the PKK in the West, which may in turn lead to increased support in a separate Kurdish nation.

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