Site Index


Wars A brief overview of political violence in Turkey and Kurdistan.

Personalities Some information on powerful (or interesting) people in the region.

TravelAn alternative Guide to Turkey.

Media Links On-line media about Turkey and KurdistanLinks to political sites about Turkey and Kurdistan.

Political Links Links to political sites about Turkey and Kurdistan.

Peoples & CreedsSome information about the ethnic groups in Turkey, where they live, their languages and their religious practices.

Rogues' Gallery

Much of politics in Turkey and Kurdistan revolves around people and personalities. Parties do not generally have very strong ideologies. Rather they form and reform around leaders and their families. I have tried to include some of the most important figures along with some biographical information.

Adullah Ocalan "Apo"

Apo is the charismatic leader of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party). Apo formed the PKK with some other Turkish-speaking Kurds in Ankara in 1984 as a Marxist liberation organisation for Turkey's Kurds. The PKK broke all ties with Turkish Marxist groups as Apo believed that they were not putting sufficient priority on Kurdish rights. Since 1984 they have waged a guerrilla war against the organs of the Turkish state in Northern Kurdistan. At times (such as in 1994) it appeared that they were going to carry it off. Their tactics have attracted considerable criticism from organisations such as Amnesty International for killing Turkish teachers and other civillian personnel. Until recently Apo had been living in Damascus with PKK training bases in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. In October, Turkish military pressure forced the Syrians to expel Apo and some PKK guerrillas or face immediate invasion. Apo is currently living in Moscow.

In March Apo was captured in Nairobi by Turkish security services and transported to Istanbul. He was put on trial there and sentenced to death. No date has been set for his execution, and no executions have been performed in Turkey since 1984. (That is formal executions)/P>

Alaattin Çakici

Have you ever heard of Satan before? If so, then you have a good idea about this man. Çakici is one of Turkey's (and Europe's) most wanted criminals and one of the most powerful men in Turkey. Çakici is one of the Nevsehir fascists, country boys who joined the Grey Wolves in the 1970s and then went on to bigger and better things after the 1980 coup d'etat. Çakici has been one of the leading figures in the dirty war against the Left and Kurdish dissidents in Turkey -- and abroad. He was the brains behind the sucessful liquidation of the ASALA Armenian terrorist group in Lebanon as well as many other operations. Çakici has made a fortune in heroin trafficking with official cooperation and is known to have a finger in every big business deal in Turkey. His involvement with the recent purchase of Turkbank by the Milliyet newspaper group caused a major scandal. Çakici was arrested in August 1998 in France where he was caught with genuine (but illegitimately issued) National Inteligence Office identification along with a genuine red diplomatic passport. Çakici remains in custody in France and it is unlikely that he will be sent back to Turkey. There are enough charges pending against him in Europe to keep him for a while (we hope).

Tansu Çiller

Tansu Çiller is an exellent example of how far a woman can go if she is from a wealthy family and marries well. In 1993 she became Turkey's first ever woman Prime Minister, and her excellent English, Ph.D. from Harvard and slick PR polish caused many to believe in Europe and North America that Turkey had taken a giant step forward. The reality of the situation was quite different. Çiller quickly proved to be as ruthless and treacherous as any other Turkish politician, if not more so. Çiller had been using her power and immunity from prosecution as a member of parliament to enrich her family, a family whose curent wealth is extimated to be in the billions. Her husband, Özer, now rivals Alaattin Çakici in dirty financial dealings, fraud and thuggery. Parliament has tried to investigate the Çiller family finances several times, but by Machiavellian manipulation of coalitians Çiller has managed to quash all such probes. The most infamous of these manipulations was the formation of a coalition between Çiller's True Path Party and Necmettin Erbakan's Welfare Party in 1996 which put Erbakan in as Prime Minister and resulted in the first Islamist government in the history of the Republic. Çiller's political ideological roots were revealed in 1997 at the funeral of Turkish fascist leader Arpaslan Türkes; tears streaming down her face she said "I learned everything from you." Çiller holds a US passport as well as a Turkish passport and it is widely believed if things get hot, she and her husband will bolt to America where the have substantial investments. Remember Ferdinand and Isabella Marcos?

Akin Birdal

Akin Birdal is the president of the Turkish Human Rights association (IHD). In May he narrowly survived an assassination attempt by fascist gunmen who shot him down in his Ankara office. Mr. Birdal has been arrested more than twenty times on sedition charges under the Anti-Terror law and similar statures limiting freedom of expression and thought. He is widely regarded as an honest and honourable man in Europe, enough so that British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook visited him in hospital. Birdal has recovered from the five bullets which hit him and has resumed his post. He has also identified his attackers who showed links to the security services and Alaattin Çakici. Big surprise.

Ismail Besikci

Ismail Besikci is probably Turkey's most famous political prisoner. He was one of the first Turkish acdemics to become interested in Kurds as Kurds rather than helping to apply the official whitewash that Kurds were &34Mountain Turks.&34 Besikci torpedoed his academic career by becoming interested in Kurds, a group of people who did not officially exist. In 1970 he was sacked from his position at Ataturk University and the following year he was first arrested and brought to trial for his writings. He was sentenced to 18 months. Besikci has 29 major publications, all but 7 of them banned in Turkey. Exiled from academia, he went on to work as an independent researcher and journalist achieving a well-earned reputation for exposing unpleasantness regarding official government ethinc policy and practices. Besikci has been mostly in prison for the past thirty years. He is currently serving a cumulative total sentence of 198 years in Ankara prison. Breaking news: As of September 1999 Besikci has been released from prison along with some thirty other writers under a new pardon scheme.

Leyla Zana