Ayhan Işık is a researcher at Utrecht Universit and defended his PhD dissertation in the Department of History-Political History at Utrecht University focusing on Turkish paramilitarism and violence in the 1990s.
Although there are a lot of sources on paramilitarism in the international literature, there are few studies of paramilitary groups supported or formed by the Turkish state. This article focuses on the types of state-backed paramilitary groups that became perpetrators of violence against civilians during the 1980s and 90s in the war between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (Partîya Karkerên Kurdistanê, PKK). The Turkish ruling elite formed paramilitary groups in support of the official security forces in the local area (in northern Kurdistan). The article examines the reasons for the formation of these paramilitary groups but mainly focuses on their types and it examines the ideological and ethnic backgrounds of the members of these groups, their roles and transformations in conflicts, and the types of violence they implemented. The article also aims to make a contribution to the literature by discussing the relationship between state-paramilitary groups through four different paramilitary groups.