5th Floor conference room
with Aliza Marcus, Author of "Blood and Belief: The PKK and the Kurdish Fight for Independence"
A separatist guerilla force founded in 1978 by a small group of Turkish university students, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) radicalized the Kurdish national movement in Turkey, becoming a tightly-organized, well-armed fighting force of some 15,000, with a 50,000-member civilian militia in Turkey and tens of thousands of active backers in Europe. After his 1999 capture, PKK founder and leader Abdullah Ocalan declared a ceasefire. The 15-year war the PKK waged in Turkey, through rural-based insurgency and urban terrorism, left nearly 40,000 people dead and drew in the neighboring states Iran, Iraq and Syria, which all sought to use the PKK for their own purposes. Since 2004, emboldened by Iraqi Kurds who have established a near-autonomous Kurdish land in the northernmost reaches of Iraq, the PKK has again turned to violence to meet its objectives.
Aliza Marcus is formerly an international correspondent for The Boston Globe. One of the first Western reporters to meet with PKK rebels, she covered the PKK for more than eight years, first as a freelance reporter for the Christian Science Monitor and later as a staff writer for Reuters, receiving a National Press Club Award and a MacArthur Foundation grant for her reporting. In 1995, she was tried in Turkey and acquitted on the charge of provoking racial hatred (under the now defunct Article 312) for a Reuters article she wrote about Turkish military operations against the PKK.
Her new book, Blood and Belief, combines reportage and scholarship to give the first, in-depth account of the PKK, based on her interviews with PKK rebels and their supporters and opponents throughout the world, including the Palestinians who trained them, the intelligence services that tracked them, and the dissidents who tried to break them up.
Copies of her book will be available for purchase.