Background – Terrorist Groups
Within the past 30 years, Turkey has experienced a spike in terrorist activity largely due to economic and political struggles. As the Economy took a downturn in 2009, citizens began to struggle and worry for their future. Having lost faith in the government, terrorist groups emerged and promised citizens these various principles about how they would change the country for the better if they were to gain power and their support. With nowhere to turn, citizens joined terrorist groups without realizing the entire purpose of the terrorist organization. Many citizens solely relied on their emotions to make decisions for them, and that in return gave terrorist organizations not only supporters, but power. There are three main terrorist groups in Turkey, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Kurdistan People’s Community (KCK), and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C.) These groups have recently increased the number of attacks on the Turkish public, especially focusing in Istanbul and Ankara, during the past two years. As police officers were given orders to use tear gas and water cannons against rioters, these groups of terrorism increased their attacks. Attacks included bombings, shootings, and lootings, and all attacks mainly focused on the government or police. Government interaction with the terrorist groups has been minimal. As a result, Turkish security has been slowly deteriorating.
PKK, KCK, DHKP-C
- PKK → Kurdistan Workers Party
- KCK → Kurdistan Peoples Community
The PKK and KCK are both used interchangeably. This terrorist group has its members receive professional military training. This group used to be composed of male terrorists, however since early 2000s, women and children have joined the terrorist organization. Both women and children are now used for violent terrorist acts against the public and the police. In addition, in recent events this group has been increasingly sending women on suicide missions. Their main goals is to have all the Kurdish people in Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq join together and create one independent Kurdish state.
- The DHKP-C’s DHKP-C → Revolutionary Peoples Liberation Party/Front
Their main goals are to use violent revolutions, terrorist attacks, suicide bombings, and assassinations in struggling violent areas across Turkey to scare and lure people into joining their cause. In return, they would instill the principles of Marxist and Leninist ideology.
These terrorist groups are a culture shock to many Turkish citizens. Not only are citizens scared, but they are angry and confused about how the fight between the government and the terrorist groups keep going on without any sort of changes. What used to be peaceful city streets are now filled with protestors, riots, and police backfires. People are afraid to even walk on the streets because of terrorist activity or violent protesting. The government is unsure of what actions to take against the terrorist group, mainly because there is disagreement within the political system. The terrorist groups, especially the PKK and KCK organizations, are primarily built of Kurdish-Turkish citizens. With about 30% of the People’s Democratic Party within the Turkish parliament being Kurdish, some government officials are protecting the terrorist organizations despite the fact that these organizations are responsible for many suicidal missions, bombings, and attacks against the government. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has even used the terrorist groups to his advantage in order to get him elected president. Part of the reason why the terrorist organizations have thrived this long is because of the fact that they have political leaders protecting them.
On March 3rd 2016, two female terrorist who were members of the DHKP-C party attacked Istanbul Police. The women used firearm and handmade bombs to attack a local police station, where the police then responded in open gunfire. The two terrorists took refuge in a building nearby, where the police then came and surrounded them. The two women were eventually killed on sight.
Only two policemen were injured.
This attack is one of many normal outbreaks that occurs in Turkey’s day to day routine. The PKK and KCK organizations have deadlier attacks on the public. In 2009, Turkey hit an economic crisis, where the GDP dropped drastically. This was the point where all the terrorist groups became more prominent. While citizens in Turkey lost hope in the government and were struggling through rough economic conditions, many turned to terrorist organizations as their answer to poverty. Terrorist organizations then gained power, and once the government fixed the economy, they then noticed the terrorist activity. As far as security, there is no main direction as to how the government wants to go about handling the organizations. The government has only authorized attacks by police forces against the terrorist organizations, and no military actions have been taken. As long as there are government officials who will protect the terrorist organizations, the groups will not be eradicated, and the violent outburst will continue to happen.
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“Ideology.” Turkish National Police. https://www.egm.gov.tr/EN/Pages/PKK-Ideology.aspx.
“Two Female Terrorists Who Attacked Istanbul Police Identified as DHKP-C Members.” Daily Sabah: Istanbul. Last modified March 3, 2016. Accessed March 10, 2016. http://www.dailysabah.com/istanbul/2016/03/03/2-female-terrorists-who-attacked-istanbul-police-identified-as-dhkp-c-members.