Turkish intelligence sources earlier warned that the PKK had printed sample banknotes using a photo of its imprisoned leader, Abdullah Öcalan, on the front face of the bills. Turkish media outlets shared a picture of a “Kuruş” banknote featuring Öcalan that was allegedly prepared by the PKK. The PKK expects Öcalan to be the one to introduce the currency at the 12th general assembly of the outlawed group, media reports speculated on Sunday.
Political analysts said the move comes amid intensified PKK efforts to win recognition as a sovereign entity. One interesting detail seen on the banknote allegedly designed by the PKK was that it read “Central Bank of Diyarbakır” in Kurdish on the bill. Diyarbakır is a province of Turkey and the PKK claims sovereignty over it as the future capital of a larger Kurdistan in the region.
Separate sources have earlier claimed that the outlawed group has illegally established its own monitoring and supervisory agencies, such as an independent ministry of finance and court of accounts. The alleged PKK move also follows a similar maneuver from another militant group in the region, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). ISIL announced plans in November to mint its own coins to be used in trade in the regions of Iraq and Syria that it keeps under control.
The PKK currency reports have arrived at a sensitive time. Tensions ran high in the southeastern town of Cizre early on Saturday as armed clashes broke out between members of the Patriotic Revolutionist Youth Movement (YDG-H), an affiliate of the PKK, and Hüda-Par, a Kurdish Sunni Islamist party.
The clashes between the PKK members and supporters of Hüda-Par — which is also known as the Turkish Hezbollah, though it has no affiliation with Lebanon’s Hezbollah — have raised fears of further conflict, while recalling bitter memories of the early 1990s during which the conflict between the two groups claimed the lives of hundreds of people.