Turkish Paramilitaries during the Conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK

Ayhan Isik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper focuses on how the paramilitary organisations of the Turkish state have transformed and been used over time as a ‘useful’ tool against dissidents, especially the Kurds. Paramilitary groups have been one of the main actors in the war between the Turkish state and the PKK, which has been ongoing for nearly forty years. These groups have sometimes been used as auxiliary forces and at other times made into death squads operating alongside the official armed forces, and they have mainly been used against Kurdish civilians who allegedly support the PKK, especially at the height of the war in unsolved murders, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings since the 1980. In this article, I argue that the Turkish state elites use this apparatus not only in domestic politics but also in conflicts in the Middle East and the Caucasus and that this paramilitary tradition of the state even extends to western Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalThe Commentaries
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2022

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