PKK commanders: Our strongest inspiration was Che Guevara

PKK commanders commemorated Latin American revolutionary leader Ernest Che Guevara on the 50th anniversary of his death. Duran Kalkan, a co-founder of the PKK, said that back in the 70’s Che was their strongest inspiration.

On 9 October 1998 Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan was forced to leave Syria after threats by Turkey, Israel and the US. This day is considered as the start of the international plot against Öcalan among Kurds.

The same day is also the anniversary of Che Guevara’s death. And this year it’s the 50th anniversary.

To commemorate one of the greatest revolutionary leaders of all time, PKK leaders spoke to ANF about Guevara’s influence on the Kurdish movement and his legacy.


Duran Kalkan, one of the co-founders of the PKK, said that in the beginning the Apoist movement was influenced by the revolutionary movements in Cuba and Vietnam. He pointed out that the success of the revolutions there gave hope to the Kurdish movement but the new movement’s theory and practice were influenced by the revolutionary ideas and practices of Che Guevara.

Citing Öcalan’s “We are the branch and the followers of 68’s movement in Kurdistan” quote, Kalkan said: “Che wanted to spread the revolution to the whole world. In that aspect he dissociated himself from Cuban revolutionism. He followed a different path than Fidel Castro. That separation led the 68’s revolutionary youth movement. Not only in Africa, Asia or America, youth in Europe also tended to guerrilla movements. From Germany to France, UK to Spain new guerrilla movements emerged. Che’s ideas projected a global, worldwide revolution.”

Duran Kalkan pointed out similarities between Öcalan and Che and said both leaders rejected power and chose to serve the people with struggle.

“In Kurdistan, we are the followers of Che Guevara’s guerrilla movement. Now we have gone beyond the mountains and we continue our struggle in the cities and deserts” Kalkan said.


Another PKK commander Bozan Tekin said that the PKK is raising the flag of Che Guevara in the Middle East and said: “We first saw Che’s photos in revolutionary’s meetings. Then we learned about him. After that our leading cadres Kemal Pir and Haki Karer, who were Turkish, came to Kurdistan and made an ultimate sacrifice for Kurdish people. At the beginning of PKK’s struggle we had Che’s internationalist spirit. Not only Pir and Karer, hundreds of internationalists youth fell martyr during the struggle. Take our comrade Gülnaz who war martyred in Amed. She was a Turkish woman and fought for a nation and people she didn’t know much about. There is a bit of Che’s spirit in this.”


PKK’s Kasım Engin remarked that he feels comradery with Che even though he fought in a land which is tens of thousands of kilometres away from Kurdistan. Engin cited Öcalan’s quotes about Che and said the Kurdish leader thought that PKK is the product of same spirit, same understanding of freedom, same struggle and finally in search of the “new” human.