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PKK looks to the future with creation of youth militias

Spiraling urban violence is spearheaded by the PKK’s young militias.
Masked members of YDG-H, youth wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), sit next to their weapons in Silvan, near the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, Turkey, August 17, 2015. The PKK has attacked military targets on a near-daily basis since the Turkish government launched air strikes on rebel camps in northern Iraq on July 25, wrecking a two-year-old ceasefire. REUTERS/Sertac Kayar      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX1OICG
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In a phone interview with Al-Monitor, Cekdar Gabar, 19, a Kurd from Cizre who didn’t want to use his real name, said, “We didn’t have a defense force to protect our people in cities. As YDG-H [Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement], we filled that void. Youth is more organized and aware now. We started by taking an oath to protect the Kurdish people against the state’s oppression. In the old days, our youth was afraid of the state and ran away. Today, hundreds of youth push aside the barbed wire in front of soldiers and join the Kobani resistance. These are all benefits of our getting organized. Let everyone know that we have answers to everything the state can come up with.”

Gabar said he was a high school graduate. At the end of the 1990s when his village Gulesli was forcibly evacuated, his family had to migrate to Cizre. People of Cizre who call themselves the “true people of Cizre” denigrated them and resented their presence in the town. Nine people of his family have lost their lives in clashes in the last 20 years. Gabar worked as a seasonal laborer in construction and in agricultural fields and is now unemployed. He is no longer a traditional villager, but he also is not urbanized. He sought acceptance by joining YDG-H, the youth wing of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

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