Abdullah Öcalan

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Abdullah Öcalan (born 4 April 1948), also known as "Apo" and "Chairman Apo" (Kurmanji: Serok Apo), is a Kurdish militant leader[2] who founded the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in 1978.[3] He has been leading a destabilizing armed campaign inside Turkey since 1984, with the purported intent of creating an independent Kurdish state.

Öcalan has been imprisoned by Turkey since 1999 on İmralı in the Sea of Marmara.[4] Öcalan has admitted to the terrorist nature of the PKK[5] and that its activities included using violent methods and personally approving organized attacks and executions, costing thousands of lives of civilians and the military, both Kurdish and Turkish.[6]



Abdullah Öcalan was born in Ömerli,[7] a village in Halfeti, Şanlıurfa Province, in the Eastern part of Turkey.[8] Öcalan has one brother, Osman, who was a PKK leader until defecting with several others to establish the Patriotic and Democratic Party of Kurdistan.[9]

After graduating from a vocational high school in Ankara (Turkish: Ankara Tapu-Kadastro Meslek Lisesi), Öcalan entered the Diyarbakir Title Deeds Office. In an unusual turn of events, he was relocated one month later to Bakırköy, Istanbul. Later, he entered Istanbul Law Faculty but transferred after the first year to Ankara University to study political science.[10] His return to Ankara (normally impossible given his condition[notes 1]) was facilitated by the state in order to divide a militant group, Dev-Genç. President Süleyman Demirel later regretted this decision, since the PKK was to become a much greater threat to the state than Dev-Genç.[11]

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