This project explores the complex conflict between the Turkish government and the Marxist-Leninist Kurdish political party, the PKK, in the southeastern region of Turkey known as Bakur, which is home to nearly half of the world’s Kurdish population. The conflict began in 1984 when the PKK launched an armed struggle against the Turkish government, resulting in the loss of over 40,000 lives. This violence and oppression have had a significant impact on the region’s social fabric, including education and business, hindering growth and progress.
The lack of socioeconomic development in eastern and southeastern Anatolia has been a major issue, with Kurdish society demanding full recognition of their identity by the Turkish government. In contrast, Kurdish minorities in neighboring Iraq and Syria have been gaining power. Despite hopes of ending the conflict with a two-year ceasefire, the region experienced some of its worst violence in July 2015, with daily clashes between the Turkish army and PKK militants, shattering the ceasefire and renewing tensions.
The project initially focused on documenting the social and environmental impacts of the Turkish multi-sector regional development plan, known as GAP, which involves the construction of 22 dams and 19 hydroelectric power stations along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. However, since the escalation of conflict in July 2015, the project has also focused on documenting the ongoing conflict between the PKK and the Turkish government. These photos were captured between 2011 and 2015, covering the period leading up to the July 2015 escalation and the subsequent violence that followed.