Zeynep Kınacı (1972–1996) was a member of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) known for having committed its first suicide attack. The way she carried it out has influenced women's role within the PKK.



Kinaci was born in a village in Malatya province in 1972[1] to a family of the Mamureki tribe.[2] She studied social sciences at the Inönü University in Malatya and worked at the state hospital as a X-ray technician.[3] In 1995 she joined the PKK.[3]

The suicide attack


On the 30 June 1996, Kınacı triggered the explosives near Turkish soldiers in Tunceli who were singing the İstiklal Marşı,[3][2] killing around ten soldiers[2] while wounding over thirty.[4][5] Before the attack, she wrote three letters in which she explained her reasons for the suicide attack, one directed to the leadership of the PKK, one to the Women Freedom Fighters and another one to the revolutionary people of Kurdistan.[3] According to her letters, she saw the action executed through her love for humans and life.[3][5][6] She saw it as her way to liberate herself from the oppression the Kurds had to go through by Turkey.[3] The suicide attack came in response to a failed assassination attempt on Abdullah Öcalan[7][8][2] on the 6 May 1996.[8]



Her death had a deep impact on the women's role in the PKK.[6] By the PKK, she was exemplified as the new Ishtar[9][10] and the female equivalent of a modern Kawa, who personified in Mazlum Dogan, committed suicide on Newroz 1982 in prison in Diyarbakir.[9][11] Today her nom de guerre Zîlan, but also Mazlum are popular names in the provinces of Diyarbakir and Mardin.[12] In her memory, Gurbetelli Ersöz, the former Editor in Chief of Özgür Gündem adopted as nom the guerre Zeynep after she joined the PKK.[13] In Germany an annual Zilan festival is organized in her memory.[14][15]

Personal life


Kinaci was married and her husband was in Turkish captivity when she committed suicide.[2]


  1. ^ Orhan, Mehmet (2015-10-16). Political Violence and Kurds in Turkey: Fragmentations, Mobilizations, Participations & Repertoires. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-42043-9.
  2. ^ a b c d e Ahmed, Akbar (2021), Browne, Jude (ed.), "Gender, Revenge, Mutation, and War", Why Gender?, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 334–335, ISBN 978-1-108-83337-0, retrieved 2022-04-04
  3. ^ a b c d e f Özcan, Ali̇ Kemal (2005). "The Nature and Resource Field of the Kurdish Resistance in Turkey: A Dormant Resource". Middle Eastern Studies. 41 (3): 399–402. doi:10.1080/00263200500106024. ISSN 0026-3206. JSTOR 4284373. S2CID 143133576.
  4. ^ "1996 Global Terrorism: Europe and Eurasia Overview". irp.fas.org. Retrieved 2022-04-04.
  5. ^ a b Gürbüz, Mustafa. Rival Kurdish Movements in Turkey (PDF). University of Amsterdam. pp. 96–97.
  6. ^ a b Käser, Isabel, ed. (2021) p.42
  7. ^ Yildiz, Güney (6 August 2019). "Assassinations could upset the status quo in Turkey-PKK conflict". Middle East Institute. Retrieved 2022-04-01.
  8. ^ a b "A 'Goddess' of the Kurdish freedom struggle: A tribute to Zeynep Kınacı". Medya News. 2021-06-30. Retrieved 2022-04-04.
  9. ^ a b Çağlayan, Handan (2012-06-01). "From Kawa the Blacksmith to Ishtar the Goddess: Gender Constructions in Ideological-Political Discourses of the Kurdish Movement in post-1980 Turkey". European Journal of Turkish Studies. Social Sciences on Contemporary Turkey (14). doi:10.4000/ejts.4657. ISSN 1773-0546.
  10. ^ Käser, Isabel, ed. (2021), "The PKK – A Woman's Party?: A History of the Kurdish Women's Freedom Movement 1978–2020", The Kurdish Women's Freedom Movement: Gender, Body Politics and Militant Femininities, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 55, doi:10.1017/9781009022194.002, ISBN 978-1-316-51974-5, S2CID 241947259, retrieved 2022-04-01
  11. ^ Çağlayan, Handan (2020). Women in the Kurdish Movement, Mothers, Comrades, Goddesses (PDF). Palgrave MacMillan. p. 72. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-24744-7. ISBN 978-3-030-24743-0. S2CID 211675376.
  12. ^ Adanir, Bedri (21 May 2013). "16,585 People With Kurdish Name Zîlan in Turkey". Bianet.
  13. ^ Novellis, Andrea. "The Rise of Feminism in the PKK: Ideology or Strategy?" (PDF). Zanj. University of Venice. p. 122. Retrieved 1 April 2022.
  14. ^ "Tausende Frauen auf dem Zîlan-Festival in Dortmund". Firat News Agency (in German). Retrieved 2022-04-04.
  15. ^ "Zîlan-Frauenfestival in Leverkusen". YeniOzgurPolitika.com (in Turkish). 6 June 2019. Retrieved 2022-04-04.