What is the ‘TAK’ and Who are its Members?

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By Amed Dicle

It is beneficial to examine the TAK; an organization that received attention after its actions in Ankara. 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, Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (Teyrêbazên Azadiya Kurdistan-TAK) was formed in 2004. In its website, the TAK states that it did not carry out any actions in 2004 and 2005, and began its actions in Turkish metropolitan areas 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 former commander of the Turkish armed forces, but the action did not reach its goal.

Back when the action was carried out, the political environment was intense like today and the signs of Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan’s poisoning had caused public 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 December 23, 2015 in Sabiha Gökçen Airport, and most recently carried out the two actions in Ankara in 2016.

In its written statement on December 30, 2015, the TAK described the goals, actions and tactics of the 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 in İmralı 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.

The TAK positioned itself as a revenge organization

In other words, the TAK positioned itself as a revenge organization. It also organized itself on the basis of responding to all threats and pressures targeting the Kurds and the Kurdish People’s Leader Öcalan.

After the recent two actions in Ankara, many people argued that the TAK was under the influence of the PKK.

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 around it view the PKK’s efforts for a political solution as inadequate, and form other organizations that aim to increase the level of struggle.

Arguing that the TAK and the PKK are the same can only be a special war propaganda or plain ignorance and unconsciousness.

Then, could the PKK stop the TAK if it wanted to?

The answer to this question is no. In its website, the TAK states that it does not get 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 reached through fighting the Turkish state. Thousands of people chant the slogan of ‘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  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 process of negotiation in İmralı. 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 from a table far away from Kurdistan and Kurdish people. Many groups that are sensitive on the Kurdish issue have not yet figured out the situation. They do not know why thousands of young people come to the point of being a member of TAK. They focus on the political components of the situation as opposed to the sociological ones.

In 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 up to such actions, and we have witnessed this need in 2013 and 2014. After the state ended the political talks and resumed its massacres, the TAK reactivated itself. Politics prevent 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 analyses.

Who are these people?

TAK members are the acquaintances, neighbors and relatives of Taybet İnan, a 60 years 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 armored vehicle in Şırnak…

They are the friends of Mahsum whose dead body was ran over by tanks in Diyarbakır…

They are the friends of Ekin Van, whose body was displayed after her execution in Varto…

They are the acquaintances and friends of the tens of women and men who were burnt 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 writings such as ‘Be proud if you’re a Turk, obey if you’re not’ on the walls…

To summarize, any young Kurd will give you thousands of reasons for joining the TAK.

It is impossible to approve the death of civilians during TAK actions. 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 TAK because of the realities described above shape the emotions and thoughts of thousands of people.

How many Turkish intellectuals that analyze the Kurdish issue today know of the basements of savagery in Cizre, or Taybet İnan, Hacı Birlik, Ekin Van, and the 3 months 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 TAK. This is why many Kurds view their criticism towards 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 Kurdish people. Otherwise, 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 issue were not solved. The situation is exactly the same for 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 of actions in evaluations is the easiest option.