Violent protests put Turkey's Hizbullah, PKK in spotlight

Violent protests put Turkey's Hizbullah, PKK in spotlight

Violent protests put Turkeys Hizbullah, PKK in spotlight

Turkey's Hizbullah-affiliated party claimed that 22-year-old Emrah Demir, who was shot dead in Batman on Oct. 7, was a PKK supporter attacking their building

The Oct. 7 protests that led to the deaths of at least 21 people throughout Turkey have put the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Turkey’s Hizbullah, whose members are mostly Kurdish Islamists, back in the spotlight.

Hizbullah and its affiliate, the Free Cause Party (Hüda Par), engaged in several clashes with the PKK during the Oct. 7 protests across Turkey against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The bloodiest clash between the two sides of the night caused the death of at least 10 people in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır. 

The YDG-H, the youth branch of the PKK, claimed responsibility for the attack against Hüda Par’s provincial branch in Diyarbakır. Hüda Par Deputy Chair Bahattin Temel said Oct. 8 that four of their members were killed in the attack. 

Mehmet Hüseyin Yılmaz, another Hüda Par deputy chair, pointed the finger at both the Turkish government and the PKK via Twitter on Oct. 8. “We are under attack in every place in Kurdistan. The PKK and the HDP are conducting a political genocide against Islamic structures. The security forces of the state, which didn’t stop the attacks yesterday, are today raiding our party and Islamic NGOs,” Yılmaz said. 

While pro-PKK social media accounts have been calling for “the immediate execution of Hüda Par members,” Hizbullah supporters were equally defiant on Oct. 8. A Twitter account associated with the Hüda Par’s Batman provincial headquarters shared the photo of an alleged PKK supporter’s corpse. 

“The PKK attack against our building in Batman has been prevented by heroic Hüda Par members. The PKK supporters fled the scene by cowardly dragging the body of their friends away,” the @HudaParBatman account tweeted, referring to the death of 22-year-old Emrah Demir.

The PKK was founded as a Marxist-Leninist organization before turning into an overwhelmingly Kurdish nationalist movement over the course of the 1980s and 1990s. The Turkish Hizbullah, on the other hand, is a radical Islamist group that allegedly aided the state in the torture and killing of Kurdish activists in the 1990s.

The Hüda Par and Mustazaflar, its affialiated organization, had announced on Sept. 5 that “the state will be responsible for what will happen soon.” The statement accused the government of turning a blind eye to the PKK’s illegal activities in Turkey’s southeast and vowed that “the people will have to defend themselves.”

The Turkish government has accused the PKK over the protests and views the violence as a kind of blackmail, at a time when the peace process dialogue between the Turkish state and Kurds has arrived a crucial crossroads.