The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) declared an autonomous region in the Dersim province on Tuesday. The PKK is a Marxist-Lenin group and noted as a terrorist organization by the U.S., EU, and NATO.
Rudaw posted a video of PKK members “controlling the road and searching vehicles.”
“We as guerrillas, under the right of self-defense for ourselves and our nation, declare democratic autonomy in Dersim,” explained one fighter.
Fighting between Turkish forces reached new heights in July after Turkey joined forces with the West to attack the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). However, PKK immediately claimed Turkey bombed them instead of ISIS.
Then Kurdish district Dogubeyazit, which lies near the Turkey-Iran border, declared their independence:
“We declare our self-management,” said Muhsin Kula, who claimed to be part of the new government. “Our villages and cities have been turned into ruins. The latest Varto case is proof that humanity is dead.”
Varto is a town in eastern Turkey where on or around August 10 a female PKK fighter named Ekin Van was allegedly raped and killed before her naked body was dragged through the streets by Turkish security forces. The incident has outraged Kurds throughout the region.
“We will not recognize state institutions in this region. We hereby declared that we manage ourselves,” Kula said.
In July, Rudaw and Turkish outlet Zaman reported the Turkish forces struck Iraqi Kurdistan, which is incredibly far from Turkey’s original targets. A few days later, PKK claimed Turkish airstrikes destroyed a health clinic, and 30 Turkish F-16s killed 200 Kurdish militants.
Last week, Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned head of PKK condemned the attacks. He claimed the airstrikes killed at least 390 Kurdish PKK.
Turkey Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu visited Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan to discuss the fight with ISIS and PKK. While the Syrian Kurdish military allied itself with PKK, the Iraqi Kurds do not get along with PKK. The rivalry between PKK and Barzani’s Kudistan Democratic Party (KDP) traces back to the Iraqi Kurdish civil war in the 1990s.
Despite the attacks, Sinirlioğlu insisted violence is not part of the dialogue.
“Participation in the political process is open to everyone in Turkey, but that should be based on democratic principles and should be away from guns,” he said. “This principle is a must for the success of the reconciliation process. Turkey will stick to this principle.”