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Kurdistan Workers Party

The Kurdistan Workers Party (Kurdish: Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan, PKK) is one of several groups fighting for the creation of an independent Kurdish state in southern Turkey and northern Iraq. It arose from a radical youth movement in Turkey during the 1970s proclaiming itself a revolutionary socialist national liberation movement following a Marxist-Leninist doctrine.

Since 1978 the PKK has been led by Abdullah Ícalan, with its terrorist activities mainly directed towards the kurdish citizens of Turkey. It has received safehaven and modest aid from Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Ícalan's followers waged a campaign of violence in southeast Turkey against both security forces and civilians, many of them Kurds, whom the PKK accused of cooperating with the Turkish government. In addition, the PKK was active in Western Europe targeting Turkish interests including diplomatic facilities.

Numerous events in history have left several million Kurds in the Middle East stateless, primarily in Turkey and northern Iraq where most of its members are based. As a result of the violence, more than 30,000 people have been killed, a great many of which were innocent civilians. Estimates of the total number of villagers in Turkey forcibly evacuated from their homes as a result of the terrorism varies according to which side provides the figures but is believed to be approximately half a million displaced persons.

Turkish authorities captured PKK leader Abdullah Ícalan in Kenya in early 1999 and a Turkish Court subsequently sentenced him to death. In August 1999, Ocalan announced a "peace initiative," ordering members to refrain from violence and requesting dialogue with the government of Turkey on Kurdish issues.

In 2002 the government of Turkey accepted certain conditions for entry into the European Union including abolition of the death penalty which will spare the life of Abdullah Ícalan, plus changes to official government policy on basic human rights for its Kurdish population.

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