We are here with the second part of our article series on the European structure of the PKK.
Current situation of pro-PKK associations and NGOs in Europe
Since the structural reorganization of PKK in Europe, affiliated associations and NGOs under legal appearances have been operating under the roof of KCDK-E, the Brussels, Belgium-based governance mechanism that reports to the ‘Senior PKK Leadership in Europe’ which commands and controls in the background all legal and illegal offshoots in Europe and coordinates their financial and logistic operations. In addition, KNK, another umbrella organization in charge of running PKK diplomatic operations, is also based in Brussels.
Being one of the two major umbrella organizations, KNK mostly focuses on disseminating PKK propaganda and carries out lobbying and diplomacy activities in pursuit of swaying the EU institutions into exerting pressure on Turkey.
Zeyneb MURAD and Ahmet KARAMUS were elected as the KNK co-chairman/woman at the KNK congress held in 2020.
As for KCDK-E, the center of the supposedly legal activities in Europe, Yüksel KOÇ and Fatoş GÖKSUNGUR (Fatoş YENER) serve as the co-chairman/woman.
Across Europe, Democratic Kurdish Community Centers (DKCC) operate under a higher organizational unit that reports to the KCDK-E while DKCCs report directly to the KCDK-E in countries where no such units exist.
The majority of the PKK networks/offshoots in Europe are organized as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), associations, foundations or research institutes which help disseminate anti-Turkey propaganda in Europe through protest rallies, meetings, marches, press releases, signature campaigns, etc.. They also serve as conduits in forging relations with European political parties and NGOs.
These entities also serve as operational hubs for illegal PKK activities including fundraising, recruiting/transferring militants, etc. and provide camouflage for the terrorist group by offering a legal appearance.
Following are the umbrella organizations and/or country-based central PKK structures located in European countries:
- Germany – Confederation of Kurdistan Communities in Germany (KON-MED) (Konföderation der Gemeinschaften Kurdistans in Deutschland e.V.)
- Austria – Democratic Kurdish Community Center of Austria (FEYKOM)
- Belgium – Council of Democratic Kurdish Communities of Belgium (NAV-BEL) (Raad Van De Koerdische Democratische Gemeenschap in Belge)
- Denmark – Federation of Kurdish Associations in Denmark (FEY-KURD)
- Finland – NCDK Finland (Helsinki/Kurdien Demokraattinen Yhteisökeskus RY)
- France – Kurdish Democratic Council of France (CDK-F) (Conseil Democratique Kurde en France)
- The Netherlands – Kurdistan Communities Council (DEM-NED)
- UK – Kurdish People’s Democratic Assembly in Britain (BKHM)
- Sweden – NCDK Sweden, Scandinavia (Kurdiska Demokratiska Samhallcenter İ Sverige)
- Switzerland – Democratic Kurdish Council of Switzerland (CDK-S)
- Hungary – Kurdistan Information and Culture Association (KEKD)
- Norway – Kurdish Democratic Community Center of Norway/Kurdistan Culturan Foundation (Kurdisk Demokratisk Samfunnsenter/Kurdistan Kulturforeningen)
- Romania – Kurdish Culture Association of Romania (KOMAL) (Asociatia Culturala A Kurzilor Rezidenti In Romania)
- Greece – Kurdistan Cultural Center (Navenda Çanda Kürdistan)
Following are the current directors or co-chairmen of the PKK umbrella organizations/higher-tier structures on a country basis:
Engin SEVER and Zübeyda ZÜMRÜT
Osman AYAZ and Nurcan GÜLERYÜZ
Davut KESKİN and Leyla OLAŞ
Sadık ÇİFTÇİ and Zeliha DOĞAN TİTREK
- Finland/NCDK Finland
Abdullah ÜLMEZ and Şükran AKDOĞAN
- The Netherlands/DEM-NED
Ali Engin YURTSEVER and Aliye PEKEDİŞ
Murat YOLCU and Besime BAŞAR
Hamit BİTEN and Nadia SALEH
İsmail KARDAŞ and Selma SÜRER
Mehmet Zeki KORKUT
- Norway/Kurdistan Cultural Foundation
Ayser YÜCE ve Mehmet Baki BUDA
Ali GÜLER and Servet YAŞAR
- Greece/Kurdistan Cultural Center
Following are the pro-PKK associations and/or NGOs (356 in total) currently operating in Europe:
The Netherlands (46)
Among these associations/NGOs there are PYD representation offices and SDF/SDC/Self-Administration representation offices as well:
- 12 PYD offices in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, The Netherlands, UK, Sweden, Switzerland, Greece as well as in Lebanon, Greek Administration of Southern Cyprus and Russia
- 8 SDF/SDC/Self-Administration representation offices in Germany, Austria, France, UK, Switzerland, Norway as well as in the US and UAE
These associations/NGOs operate in the following areas:
49% (177) in social areas
18% (62) in culture, art and education
8% (30) in female studies
6% (21) in political areas
5% (16) country-based central structures
5% (16) in religion
4% (14) in finance
4% (13) in youth
2% (7) in media
The modus operandi of the PKK Senior Leadership in Europe is shaped in parallel to the developments in Turkey. The majority of the rallies/events staged by the pro-PKK associations in Europe seek to promote the campaigns that focus on the ‘release of Abdullah ÖCALAN’, ‘delisting of PKK’, ‘Turkey’s military operations in Syria and the north of Iraq’ and ‘protests against Turkey’s alleged use of chemical weapons’.
Our traces established that PKK components in Europe organized a total of 490 rallies/events in 2018, 1050 in 2019, 1000 in 2020, 820 in 2021 and 1000 in 2022 to spread terrorist propaganda.
Police action targeting the NGOs/associations in Europe
It is no secret that PKK uses the supposedly legal associations and/or NGOs to pursue activities in Europe which helps the terrorist group to screen its illegal operations.
We have, however, also observed cases of supposedly legal PKK offshoots being targeted by the local law enforcement in Europe once their illegal operations (fundraising, recruitment, blackmailing, etc.) were uncovered.
Following are the examples of police action against PKK in several European countries:
- Hamburg (Germany) police raided the PKK-affiliated Democratic Kurdish Community Center in Steindamm on January 12, 2018 on the grounds that the members of the center brandished banned PKK symbols at the rally organized in October 2017. Police seized Öcalan posters and PKK banners during the search of the premises.
- German police raided the Hannover Democratic Kurdish Community Center that operates under NAV-DEM (the legal PKK umbrella organization in Germany) on April 5, 2018. Laptops, banners, posters, etc. were seized by the police during the search of the premises.
- Police raided the Democratic Kurdish Community Center in Rüsselsheim, Germany on directives from the Koblenz Prosecution Office on June 25, 2019 on the grounds that the center was recruiting members for the terrorist organization PKK.
- On August 13, 2019 police raided the DKCC building in Kassel, Germany and the residences of Yeliz BORAN and Mazlum BAVLİ, DKCC co-chairman/woman, and seized the computers, folders and banners at the DKCC and mobile phones, computers and private possessions at the residences.
- German police raided the Kurdish offices in Münster and Osnabrück on December 9, 2019 and the residence of Medya YILMAZ (DKCC Chairman) in Münster. Official documents, books and brochures were seized by the police at the DKCC building in Osnabrück and mobile phone, books and computer at the residence of Yılmaz.
- Police raided the Medya-Volkshaus in Nürnberg on May 7, 2021.
- German police targeted the Hanau Democratic Kurdish Community Center on April 1, 2022 on the grounds that banned flags were unfurled during the commemoration of the so-called October martyrs organized on October 24, 2021.
French police conducted simultaneous raids at the Democratic Kurdish Community Center of Marseilles and the residences of PKK members in Marseilles and Draguignan on March 23, 2021. 9 PKK members in Marseilles and 2 in Draguignan were taken into custody as a result.
When the interception of a vehicle operated by Ali ALCI a.k.a. Mazlum during border crossing from France to Belgium on February 22, 2022 uncovered 94,500 Euros in the vehicle, PNAT/National Counter-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation on February 23, 2022 on charges of terrorism and terrorist financing. DKCC in Drancy was raided and searched on February 24, 2022 as part of the investigation.
After Mazlum (name/codename) joined the PKK rural squads through CDK-S/Democratic Kurdish Community, a Switzerland-based PKK offshoot, his family lodged a complaint to the Swiss police against the CDK-S directors in August 2021 reporting that their son was tricked by the CDK-S directors into joining the rural PKK units.
Chapter 3: Conclusion and assessment