As expected, Aygün’s abduction shook Ankara and everyone now questions why the PKK mostly abducts Kurdish people and what the reason is for this.
The PKK’s abduction campaigns targeting different groups need to be analyzed from different angles. For instance, the PKK often abducts construction workers and burns constructions sites because they are part of government projects such as building military barracks, roads, dams, airports, etc. It is not easy for an outsider to understand why the PKK would abduct a Kurdish worker who is trying to build infrastructure that in the end will serve the Kurdish people. The logic that the PKK employs is not related to whether Kurdish people will benefit from the project or not but how the project will affect the PKK presence in the region. For example, the PKK targets construction sites for the building of dams because the PKK thinks once these dams are built it will be very difficult for them to maneuver in that territory. In their mind, dams are only blocks along the PKK’s roads to move between mountains and caves. Thus, in order to halt dam projects, the PKK constantly targets construction sites.
Second, the PKK abducts people who work for subcontractors responsible for building military outposts because they consider the military a colonialist force and, sooner or later, the PKK wants to remove the military from the Kurdish region. Building stronger military outposts simply results in stronger attacks by the PKK and the deaths of more soldiers.
The third group the PKK targets is construction workers who build roads, which is something hard to explain. The logic behind targeting these groups is to slow down road projects because the planned roads will end the isolation of some remote Kurdish towns and cities. The PKK prefers isolated Kurdish towns at this stage because once those towns open their doors to the rest of the world, it will be more difficult for the PKK to hide in areas near towns.
Additionally, the PKK does not want to see a functioning liberal economy in the region. It is a proven fact that the PKK faces difficulties operating in integrated communities where the economy functions well. Thus, the PKK simply wants to interrupt the functioning economy in the region.
The abduction of military personal and police officers follows a different logic. The PKK abducts them to intimidate state forces in the region and to use them as propaganda to show that the PKK controls the roads and the state cannot do anything to the PKK.
In addition, the PKK hopes people will pressure the government to negotiate with the PKK for the release of these soldiers. They also want to highlight the government’s hypocrisy that while this very government was putting pressure on Palestinian groups to release an Israel soldier a few years ago this same government ignores its own solders who are abducted by the PKK.
The PKK’s abduction of Huseyin Aygün, the CHP deputy, however, has nothing to do with the ablutions listed above. His abduction is related to his Alevi identity and his political take on Alevi issues. Given the fact that the PKK adopts a strategy of reaching out the Alevi communities in the western parts of the country, the PKK considers Aygün’s work to highlight Alevi issues a challenge to the PKK’s campaign to draw the Alevis to its side. While the PKK hopes to reach out to Alevis, because of Aygün’s work, the Alevis are moving away from the PKK and closer to the CHP. Hence, in order to warn Aygün, the PKK abducted him and demonstrated they will not allow anyone to distance the Alevis from the PKK.
Given the fact that the PKK is an organization that ruthlessly eliminates its opposition, it is logical for the PKK to remove its major contender from dealing with Alevi issues. It seems that Aygün’s public support among the Alevi community, his position as a well-known deputy working on the Alevi issue and the public reaction against his abduction are what has saved his life. Otherwise, we all know that the PKK has not been so merciful with its opponents before. The organization killed former PKK leaders, such as Kani Yılmaz and Hikmet Fidan, just because they left the organization and were trying to organize an alternative political party that condemns violence.
It seems that the PKK will continue to abduct people in order to show its dominance in the region. Recently, Duran Kalkan, a PKK chief, called on his followers to abduct civil servants who do not quit working for the government. Thus, it will come as no surprise if the PKK next abducts civil servants such as teachers, doctors, engineers, etc.