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  Taner Akcam and a Fellow Terrorist Exchange Views  
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 This is part of a series examining the works of the Armenian-supported perpetual "visiting professor" Taner Akcam; here is the lead page for this series.


Terrorist Leader "APO" labels TANER AKCAM a Provocateur

"I get to break my silence about Taner Akcam, since he spoke of me the other day," said Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the PKK who is now serving a life sentence for being the leader of a terrorist group which caused the death of 35,000 people in Eastern Turkey. He now sits alone in a comfortable jail in the island of Imrali, off the coast of Istanbul. 'He almost cussed me' says Abdullah Ocalan about Taner Akcam.

Holdwater adds: Getting "cussed" by Taner Akcam is an honor the terrorist leader shares (Apo states he had been cussed, leaving out the "almost," as you'll read later) with the web master of this web site. Dr. Akcam, while addressing me as "brother" during our correspondences from the past, later addressed me as a "cur," to another, behind my back. Now, a "cur" is kind of a quaint expression in English (no self-respecting street gang member would use "cur" to put down someone else), but in Turkish, it's very insulting. If you really want to diss someone, you could go one step further and call him what would amount to 'a son of a cur's cur.'  At least I was only a cur.

Many thanks to Fatma S., Turkish Forum Advisory
Board Member, for translating what follows. Mostly, we get the gist of the interview; this is not always a literal translation. Fatma adds a few of her insightful comments along the way.

We first get Taner Akcam's views, from an interview published in the Turkish daily, Milliyet. Abdullah Ocalan gave a "rebuttal," appearing in a PKK organ published in Europe (at one time, the PKK was one of the darlings of Turk-bashing Europe, before some countries awakened to the fact that they were cuddling terrorists in their midst.)

Both articles provide marvelous illumination as to the "trustworthy" character of Taner Akcam. In short, would you want this man to be your nurturing "visiting professor"?


  Taner Akcam Interviewed

Jan Dundar's interview with Taner Akcam was published in  Milliyet newspaper on January 11, 2002. In his interview Taner Akcam said he and his friends thought that Apo was a lunatic in the years 1973-1975 (A comment which alone is enough to anger the terrorist leader, Apo Ocalan). 'The organization that Apo founded seemed to have ill intentions and his relationships looked too dubious to us, so we kept our distance from him' says Taner Akcam about his former ideologist.

These did not stop Taner from collaborating with Abdullah Ocalan and joining forces with his terrorist organization PKK in the Fall of 1980, because Taner wanted to fight against the Turkish Army with a bigger force ("My enemy's enemy is my friend" concept). These and how Abdullah Ocalan's opponents disappeared into thin air are written in Jan Dundar's interview with Taner Akcam.

Apparently around 1984 Taner broke ranks with Apo and settled in Hamburg. He says his only financial support until then was from the illegal organization that he founded to discredit the Turkish Army. Once you are used to being the leader of a powerful organization (never mind that it is a terrorist organization) it becomes difficult to do mundane things like job searching and standing on welfare lines.

Skeletons in Taner Akcam's closet

Skeletons in Taner Akcam's closet 

Many of his friends continued to organize new groups, however; Taner went to live with his father (he uses a term like "sponge-off" his father), and occasionally found odd jobs, such as newspaper reporter. Then he enrolled in a university, deriving from a hunger (whether the hunger refers to the stomach or the intellect is not clear from the original article). Some people who knew him obtained an invitation for him from the Oldenburg University. As a guest lecturer he was to teach History of the Turkish Finance System. But this was to be interrupted in 1986 due to some upsetting news. (I do not know how this is possible, because Taner did not even graduate from college. He was enrolled in the Middle East Technical University the same year as I was. I graduated in 1975 with an engineering degree, but he dropped out of school in pursuit of his "extra curricular" activities. Could Oldenburg be one of those universities which offer underwater basket weaving classes?)

Taner Speaks; PKK friend becomes foe

 'The leftist organizations of Turkey could not defend their honor
against the PKK. They wanted to defend human rights only against the government. They did not like to defend human rights against PKK's terrorism as well. According to them, the PKK should have been allowed to kill people because they were freedom fighters. They considered it acceptable if illegal organizations abused human rights. The leftist organizations could not stand up to the PKK. Also the Human Rights Organizations were still-born in Turkey for this very same reason.'

'The Political Party of Freedom and Solidarity (Ozgurluk ve Dayanisma Partisi — ODP) was in a similar boat. They were all my friends. I remember literally begging them in 1995-96 to extend the same level of criticism to the PKK that they leveled against the government. I told them to stand for human rights in general and don't be soft when the offenders are the PKK or Kurdish terrorists. Because they did not listen to me they did not gain many supporters'.

'Were you comfortable with the decision to join ranks with the PKK?' asks Jan Dundar.

'We all had question marks on the back of our mind. Because the PKK ruthlessly killed many fighters from its own ranks as well as innocent civilians. They also wiped out many leftist organizations leaving a dubious legacy among the leftist Kurdish and Turkish organizations. Apo did not mind burning bridges within his ranks and he did not keep his promise to us.

They killed my best friend in February 1986, instead of me. I
considered Kursat my brother. He was in jail since 1981. My mom whose face was paralyzed on one side due to her life long struggles, was visiting me in Germany. We were going to search for a cure for her. I was continually changing location for fear of being killed by the PKK. One day my mom answered the phone. We received word of my best friend's murder. I was sad that I had lost my best friend, and also angry that they had killed him because they could not find me. Later some PKK deserters also confirmed that I was the real target. I felt responsible for Kursat's death sentence. If we had not collaborated with the PKK form 1981-1984 this could have been avoided. I have not yet overcome the shock of Kursat's death to this day. Half of me was lost together with him. I had to end the university life that I so longed for. With trembling fingers I wrote my resignation letter.

I became a fugitive again. This time in the country that I had escaped to be free. I was exiled in exile. My past was not going to allow me to live a normal life. I started to play hide and seek again.

One year after Kursat's slaying, another one of my close friends Aydin (Yavuz) Erol was killed by an accidental bullet from a PKK member's gun. I knew Yavuz since 1960, we lived on the same street. After his death, continuing a political life became meaningless for me. This would have only led to more deaths and new clashes. So, I quit playing this dangerous game.

I often think that I was saved from many a trouble by coincidence. My stubbornness must have played a role in this as well. I consider myself a lucky man. Who knows my luck may turn for the better from now on. It doesn't matter any ways since I am over 27!

ADDENDUM, 12-07:

It turns out the above was a four part interview, running from Jan. 9th through the 12th. (In Turkish: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.) DEV YOL was the revolutionary movement Akcam was a founding member of, contributing in good part to those days of horrific anarchy in Turkey, when on average, almost one hundred people were being shot daily in the streets. One revealing statement (aside from a reference to his comfortable lifestyle in prison capped off with, "Most of my friends who came to visit me wished they would be jailed for these reasons," from Part 1; this was around the time of MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, mind you, when Turkish prisons were regarded as the world's worst), Akcam has made (in Part 3) is "It was not easy to be dependent on social welfare for people like us, who were candidates to decide the fate of a country. (We) had kept cities and districts (group of cities) under our control." ("Bir ülkenin kaderini belirlemeye aday, sehirleri, bölgeleri kontrolleri altinda tutmus, yönetmis insanlarin, simdi sosyal yardim dairesi kapisina düsmesi kolay degildi.") DEV YOL made some armed terror groups in the USA from the similar period, groups like the SLA (the ones who kidnapped Patty Hearst) that also regarded their country as fascists, look like pikers. This is important, because in current interviews, Akcam makes himself appear as an innocent student activist, confined to peaceful activities such as "leafleting and postering." In Part 2, during a period of self-criticism once the movement had slowed down, he alludes to the incorrectness of terrorist methods that were employed ("...sorunlari siddet temelinde cözmek isteyen anlayi
stan vazgeçilmesini savunuyorduk"). Another statement from this section which one day may come to haunt Akcam (regarding the country he has chosen to defend): "The country that defends you today, may sell you tomorrow."

A more extensive yet somewhat informal translation of these pages in English may be read, with translator's notes usually in light green, on this page if one wishes to [Read More].

"Apo" Ocalan Strikes Back


After the above interview was published, Apo had a few words of his own to say about his former terrorist friend; the following appeared about a week later, in the January 19, 2002 edition of  Özgür Politika, a propaganda organ of the PKK within Europe. (The original article has been reproduced at the tetedeturc site, for those who prefer to follow in Turkish: tetedeturc.com/Armenien/Taner_Akcam/Taner_Akcam.jpg.)

"Taner gave the order for the murder of the people that he claims to have protected. He caused heavy casualties."

"His personality is dubious... He is open for manipulation in the future."


'Taner Akcam's smear campaign against the Turkish leftists, Kurdish literati and the PKK is a provocation against these groups' unification' says Apo Ocalan. I have read his interview and find its timing quite provocative. Just when we are about to join forces among our ranks they gave him the opportunity to speak. The (political party for an independent Kurdistan) HADEP may be closed, but a valuable people's freedom concept has precipitated and they don't know how to use this situation. I warned them many times about the importance of these things. Taner gave the order for the murder of the people that he claims to have protected. He caused heavy casualties. He should have owned up to his dead as much as the MHP (a right nationalist party known to attend in huge masses to the burial ceremonies of the fallen soldiers during the PKK fight. They brought in 20,000 people last week). Taner sent his friends to their death. His personality is dubious. Many times he was destructive on the PKK as well. He is open for manipulation in the future.'

Pointing that Turkey is at a crossroads, Apo wanted to send the
following messages; 'Taner Akcam's interview is a provocative initiative against joining forces of the Turkish and Kurdish intellectuals for democracy. I remind them not to fall for this provocation. Rather than criticizing me, Taner Akcam has used cuss words for me.

In order to understand Taner's behaviour we need to go back to the 1970's and 80's. We were together with Taner in 1975 in ADYOD. I was the president and he was a member of the directory board. In 1976 my friends and I split and founded AYOD. The reason for this separation was none other than Taner Akcam himself. One day Haki Karer and Kemal Pir came to me and said that Taner is too much of a showman. He wants to be on the front pages all the time. Let us organize without him.

Haki Karer and Kemal Pir were almost violated. They were approached with denial and provocation. So we had to organize in a different organization. Taner Akcam was the person who provocated the anti-fascist front in 1982. You can verify this information from Teslim Tore. He knows those years too.


"With one leg he stands on America and the other on Yerevan. Where his loyalty lies is unknown to us."

Abdullah "APO" Ocalan

Abdullah "APO" Ocalan

In reply to Taner's words that Apo ordered his killing; 'I never felt
the need to have him killed. On the contrary we received word that some of the killings from our side were organized by his group. He openly disseminated Dev Yol. He is cussing our past. There may have been errors but even the MHP owns up to their dead. He should not attack our martyrs this way.

We can not understand his motives. With one leg he stands on America and the other on Yerevan. Where his loyalty lies is unknown to us. He disseminated the democratic leftist ideological organizations, he was the most influential person in dissolving the leftist movement in Turkey.

Ocalan warned the left leaning Turkish intellectuals not to fall for
Taner's provocation and invited them to unite and collaborate under the roof of a new political party.





Further reading:

"From Terrorism to Armenian Propagandist: The Taner Akcam Story" 




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