Kurdish–Turkish conflict

Kurdish–Turkish conflict

History of the Republic of Turkiye

Kurdish–Turkish conflict
Kurdish fighters Peshmerga's, 1970's ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1978 Nov 27

Kurdish–Turkish conflict

Şemdinli, Hakkari, Türkiye

A revolutionary group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) was founded in 1978 in the village of Fis, Lice by a group of Kurdish students led by Abdullah Öcalan. The initial reason given by the PKK for this was the oppression of Kurds in Turkey. At the time, the use of Kurdish language, dress, folklore, and names were banned in Kurdish-inhabited areas. In an attempt to deny their existence, the Turkish government categorized Kurds as "Mountain Turks" during the 1930s and 1940s. The words "Kurds", "Kurdistan", or "Kurdish" were officially banned by the Turkish government. Following the military coup of 1980, the Kurdish language was officially prohibited in public and private life until 1991. Many who spoke, published, or sang in Kurdish were arrested and imprisoned.


The PKK was formed in an effort to establish linguistic, cultural, and political rights for Turkey's Kurdish minority. However, the full-scale insurgency did not begin until 15 August 1984, when the PKK announced a Kurdish uprising. Since the conflict began, more than 40,000 have died, the vast majority of whom were Kurdish civilians. Both sides were accused of numerous human rights abuses during the conflict.


Although the Kurdish-Turkish conflict has spread to many regions, most of the conflict has taken place in Northern Kurdistan, which corresponds with southeastern Turkey. The PKK's presence in Iraqi Kurdistan has resulted in the Turkish Armed Forces carrying out frequent ground incursions and air and artillery strikes in the region, and its influence in Syrian Kurdistan has led to similar activity there. The conflict has cost the economy of Turkey an estimated $300 to 450 billion, mostly in military costs.

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