The group was founded in 1978 in the village of Fis (near Lice) by a group of Kurdish students led by Abdullah Öcalan.[29] The PKK's ideology was originally a fusion of revolutionary socialism and Kurdish nationalism, seeking the foundation of an independent, Marxist–Leninist state in the region, which was to be known as Kurdistan.

Since 1984 the PKK has waged an armed struggle against the Turkish state for equal rights and self-determination for the Kurds in Turkey,[18] who comprise between 18% and 25% of the population and have been subjected to repression for decades.

However, since his capture and imprisonment in 1999, the leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, has completely abandoned Marxism–Leninism,[30] leading the party to adopt his new political platform of "Democratic Confederalism" (influenced strongly by the libertarian socialist philosophy of communalism) while ceasing its official calls for the establishment of a fully independent country.

In May 2007, former members of the PKK helped form the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organisation of Kurds from Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. On 20 March 2005,[31] Öcalan described the need for a democratic confederalism and went on to say:

"The democratic confederalism of Kurdistan is not a State system, it is the democratic system of a people without a State... It takes its power from the people and adapts to reach self-sufficiency in every field including the economy."

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