24 March 2016
by Amed Dicle
An analysis of the the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons/Hawks (TAK); an organization that received widespread attention after its actions in Ankara, is important if we are to comprehend what is happening in Turkey and Kurdistan. In fact, it is not the Kurds but the state that should explain the TAK because the existence of the organization is a direct result of state policies. Still, let us have a look at the general structure of this organization.
According to the information on its website, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (Teyrêbazên Azadiya Kurdistan-TAK) was formed in 2004. On its website, the TAK states that it did not carry out any actions in 2004 and 2005, and began its actions in Turkish cities in 2006.
The TAK carried out its first action on May 22, 2007. TAK member Güven Akkuş (Erdal Andok) carried out the action in the Anafartalar Bazaar of Ankara’s Ulus district. Akkuş was from Maraş, grew up in İstanbul, and joined the organization from Europe. The TAK stated that Akkuş’s target was Yaşar Büyükanıt, the then Chief of Staff of Turkey's Armed Forces, the action was unsuccessful.
The political environment, when this attack was perpetrated, was intense like today with signs that imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan was being poisoned, causing indignation among Kurds all across the globe.
On its website, the TAK says that it carried out actions between 2006 and 2012, but there is no information on the details of these. In 2013 and 2014, the organization did not carry out any actions. It resumed its actions on 23 December 2015 with an attack at Sabiha Gökçen Airport, thereafter perpetrating the two actions in Ankara in 2016.
In its written statement on 30 December 2015, the TAK described the goals, actions and tactics of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and other Kurdish organizations as ‘too soft and ineffective responses to the war the Turkish Republic’s fascism is waging against Kurdish people’ and announced the beginning of a new process.
The TAK did not carry out any actions during the negotiations between the Turkish state and Kurdish Movement (2013-2015) in Imralı, but declared that it would be active after the end of the negotiation process.
In the same statement, the TAK emphasized that it would avenge the oppression and massacre of Kurdish people.
In other words, the TAK positioned itself as a revenge organization. It also organized itself based on responding to all threats and pressures targeting the Kurds and Öcalan.
After the recent attacks in Ankara, many people argued that the TAK was affiliated with the PKK or under its influence. The TAK is not the PKK. The PKK declared numerous times that it had no relations with the TAK. The PKK is a movement with political and social projects and a perspective. It is organized in many different aspects of life and has thousands of guerrillas. It is not logical for a movement that has military structures to establish another military group. Its actions against soldiers and militarist forces do not defy the laws of war, and it views attacks targeting civilians as war crimes.
The PKK signed the Geneva War Convention in 1994 and launched investigations into its actions during the 1980s that resulted in civilian casualties. It criticized these attacks and condemned the killing and harming of civilians, even if they were accidental.
The TAK points out that it targets the Turkish state’s institutions and economy. It declared that it does not target civilians, and expressed its sadness for the civilian casualties in Ankara.
As we understand from the organization’s recent statements, the TAK perceives the PKK’s war as incomplete and adopts a more radical line of action.
From TAK statements, we can see that some of the organization’s members were in the PKK in the past. Many TAK members come from the social groups that were created through the PKK’s struggle. However, the TAK and the youth organised in it, view the PKK’s efforts for a political solution as inadequate, and form other organizations that aim to intensify the level of struggle.
Arguing that the TAK and the PKK are the same can only be psychological warfare or plain ignorance.
Then, could the PKK stop the TAK if it wanted to?
The answer to this question is no.
On its website, the TAK states that it does not recieve orders from the PKK and would continue its actions until the liberation of Öcalan and Kurdish people.
This issue is not a simple one; it is beyond hierarchies and organic relations. The sociological and emotional dimensions of the issue are deeper than what most people think.
Why does the TAK exist, when a radical organization such as the PKK is already waging a political, military and social struggle?
This is the question that should be asked, because thousands of young people in Kurdistan believe that a result can only be achieved through fighting the Turkish state. Thousands of people chant ‘revenge’ on the streets and call upon the PKK to take revenge. There are sociological reasons behind why some people seek revenge. Thousands of young Kurdish people carry the photos of TAK militants in the streets of Turkey, London, Berlin, Paris, and Brussels.
Thousands of young people were criticizing the PKK for not fighting during the negotiation process in Imralı. If you go to any event that brings together thousands of Kurdish people, you will see that many people share the TAK’s perspective. You can observe thousands of young people expressing themselves in a similar manner.
So it is impossible to understand the situation if you remove yourself from the reality in Kurdistan and of Kurdish people. Many groups that are sensitive to the Kurdish question/issue are yet to comprehend the situation. They do not understand why thousands of young people come to the point of joining the TAK. They focus on the political components of the situation as opposed to the sociological ones.
On its website, the TAK does not offer a political project for the future. Since every action has political reasons and consequences, politics is the only way for dissolving the TAK. It is necessary to remove the social and political conditions that lead to such actions, and we have witnessed this need in 2013 and 2014. After the state ended the negotiation process and talks resuming its massacres, the TAK reactivated itself. Politics prevents such organizations from getting a social footing.
We must examine why people in their 20s sacrifice themselves and organize for this purpose. It is more beneficial to examine the TAK through sociology as opposed to simple political analysis.
Who are these people?
TAK members are the acquaintances, neighbours and relatives of Taybet Inan, a 60 year-old woman and mother of 8 children, who was killed and whose body was left to rot on the street by the police in Silopi…
They are the peers, schoolmates, and colleagues of Hacı Birlik whose dead body was dragged behind an armoured vehicle in Şırnak…
They are the friends of Mahsum whose dead body was run over by tanks in Diyarbakır…
They are the friends of Ekin Van, whose body was displayed naked after her execution in Varto…
They are the acquaintances and friends of the tens of women and men who were burnt alive in basements in Şırnak…
They are the brothers and sisters of hundreds of children who were shot while playing games in front of their houses…
They are the children of families whose houses were destroyed in Sur and relatives were executed on the street…
They are the children of the streets that have graffiti such as "Be proud if you’re a Turk, obey if you’re not" written on its walls by the police and soldiers of the state...
To summarize, any young Kurd will give you thousands of reasons for joining the TAK.
It is impossible to approve the death of civilians. It is everyone’s right to criticize and condemn these casualties. We should criticize more and make it clear that targeting civilians is not acceptable in any war. However, all of these points do not change the reality of the TAK, because the realities described above shape the emotions and thoughts of thousands of people.
How many Turkish intellectuals who analyse the Kurdish issue today know of the 'basements of savagery' in Cizre, or Taybet Inan, Hacı Birlik, Ekin Van, and the 3 month-old Miray from Cizre who was shot in the arms of her grandfather?
It is impossible for people who have no idea about these to have an understanding of the TAK. This is why many Kurds view their criticism of the TAK as repulsive and insincere.
Examining the TAK as a contemporary reaction will not yield any results. The only way for deactivating such structures is an ending of the state’s oppression and denial of the Kurdish people. Otherwise, the TAK will continue its actions and even new TAKs will emerge. Some AKP officials who criticize the PKK today are remembered to have said that more PKKs would emerge if the Kurdish question/issue were not solved. The situation is exactly the same for the TAK.
If thousands of people are ready to ‘sacrifice their lives’ and the majority of Kurdish society does not believe in a resolution within ‘Turkish borders,’ it is time to completely reexamine the situation. Focusing on the results rather than the reasons of actions in evaluations is the easiest option.
This article was translated by ANF English Service and edited by Kurdish Question for publication on our site.
- Amed Dicle
- Amed Dicle