A Turkmen guerrilla fighter in the mountains of Botan

Haydar Erdoğan was a Turkmen citizen from Adıyaman. As a PKK cadre, he was jailed in a Turkish prison, and as an internationalist freedom fighter, he was part of the guerrilla resistance in Botan. He lost his life there in 2017.

From its first day of foundation, the PKK has been an internationalist freedom movement. Not only Kurds, but people of all kinds of ethnic and religious identities have recognised their own liberation struggle in the PKK's resistance and joined the revolution. One of these fighters was Turkmen Haydar Erdoğan, who was part of the guerrillas under the fighting name Pir Ali Dersim until he fell on Mount Gabar in 2017.

Haydar Erdoğan was born in 1978 in Besni in the northern Kurdish province of Adıyaman, the youngest of five siblings in a poor family. He spent his childhood and youth in this region on the banks of the Euphrates. When his father had to go to prison for a long time during his childhood, his relationship with his mother became closer. Through this circumstance, Haydar Erdoğan was influenced by the democratic culture of women. He first learned about the values that would influence his time in the PKK through his mother. Since childhood, he had to work to support the family.


In his youth, Haydar Erdoğan read books about revolutionary leaders in Turkey. He felt a deep contradiction with the system and rebellious thoughts grew within him. In his search, he finally got to know the PKK. Although he was a Turkmen youth, he discovered his perspective in the PKK and joined the political work in the movement in 2001. Through him, his family also got to know the Kurdish freedom movement and they began to support him in this sense. The more he understood about the PKK, the stronger his need to become more active became.


After an education in 2008, he decided to fully join the Kurdish freedom movement and become a cadre of the PKK. He visited families, made contacts, did educational and organising work and thus got to know the Kurdish people better. He then moved to the field of public relations and was active there for two years. In 2010, he was imprisoned on a denunciation for "recruitment work for the guerrillas". During his five years in prison, he deepened his ideological education and decided to go to the mountains after his release.


When Haydar Erdoğan left prison again, he continued his work in society. However, the desire to go to the mountains remained. On 3 April 2016, he was finally able to join the guerrillas. There he took the nom de guerre "Pir Ali Dersim". One day later, Abdullah Öcalan's birthday was celebrated. There is an entry in his diary: "On the evening of 3 April, I reached the mountains, and, in the morning, the 4th of April was celebrated. This triggered a deep feeling in me. The joy of reaching the free mountains after many years combined with the excitement of April 4th."


Haydar Erdoğan described what life in the guerrillas meant to him by saying: "Here we learned the principles and standards of free life. In this free life I saw and learned how slavish, unacceptable and inhuman my previous life had been. The free life I sought and longed for is in the mountains of Kurdistan. All those who seek a free life should turn to the mountains and know that what they seek is here. Life was not real life before. In the cities, we only play the roles assigned to us. No one lives according to their free will. But you can only realise that when you have come to the free mountains.


When I came to the mountains, I was worried whether I could cope with being a guerrilla at that age, whether I could succeed. But when I became a guerrilla, I realised that I had great strength and potential. That was a miracle for me. As comrade Şehîd Derveş said, this strength is not mine, but the Party's. When a person opens himself to the Party, when he approaches the Party sincerely, he gains extraordinary power. I have seen this."


Haydar Erdoğan was 38 years old when he came to the mountains. It didn't take long for him to become a professional guerrilla fighter. After a year, he went to northern Kurdistan, to the mountains of Botan. The more he fought, the more determined he became. On 8 September 2017, he gave his life in resistance against the Turkish army in Gabar.