Photo above: Kurdish protesters in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir demand increased western intervention against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). Ilyas Akenginil/AFP/Getty
The Oct. 7 protests that led to the deaths of at least 19 people throughout Turkey have put the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Turkey’s Hizbullah, whose members are mostly Kurdish Islamists, back in the spotlight.
Hizbullah and its affiliate, the Free Cause Party (Hüda Par), engaged in several clashes with the PKK during the Oct. 7 protests across Turkey against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The bloodiest clash between the two sides of the night caused the death of at least 10 people in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır.
The YDG-H, the youth branch of the PKK, claimed responsibility for the attack against Hüda Par’s provincial branch in Diyarbakır. Hüda Par Deputy Chair Bahattin Temel said Oct. 8 that four of their members were killed in the attack.
Mehmet Hüseyin Yılmaz, another Hüda Par deputy chair, pointed the finger at both the Turkish government and the PKK via Twitter on Oct. 8. “We are under attack in every place in Kurdistan. The PKK and the HDP are conducting a political genocide against Islamic structures. The security forces of the state, which didn’t stop the attacks yesterday, are today raiding our party and Islamic NGOs,” Yılmaz said.
While pro-PKK social media accounts have been calling for “the immediate execution of Hüda Par members,” Hizbullah supporters were equally defiant on Oct. 8. A Twitter account associated with the Hüda Par’s Batman provincial headquarters shared the photo of an alleged PKK supporter’s corpse.
I didn’t even know there was a Turkish Hizbullah. The article says that PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) started out as Marxist-Lenininst but became oriented to Kurdish nationalism during the 1980s and 1990s. As for the Islamic party: “The Turkish Hizbullah, on the other hand, is a radical Islamist group that allegedly aided the state in the torture and killing of Kurdish activists in the 1990s.”
The Turkish government under Erdogan has especially bad relations with the PKK. According to Wikipedia, between 10%-25% of Kurds in Turkey belong to PKK, while the Turkish Hizbulla has a few hundred members and thousands of supporters.
Most protesters who initially hit the streets were either supporters of the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Parliament, or the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which share the same grassroots base. Some protesters attacked the local branches of several parties, including the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).