Environmental destruction as a counterinsurgency strategy in the Kurdistan region of Turkey uri icon

abstract

  • We examine environmental aspects of the conflict between the Turkish state and the insurgent Kurdistan Workers Party (Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan or PKK). Since the early 1990s, several civil society groups have claimed that the Turkish army burned forests and destroyed other livelihood resources in the Kurdistan region of Turkey as it evacuated settlements. We report the results of a case study of destruction in Tunceli, eastern Turkey, undertaken in order to evaluate support for such claims. We demonstrate the use of geospatial techniques in case-specific approaches to the study of armed conflict. Through the analysis of satellite images, we verified eyewitness reports and confirmed that substantial burnings did indeed take place in the study area between 1991 and 1994. We argue that this destruction was not irrational or wanton, but that it was part of a strategy used by the Turkish army in the early 1990s that aimed at actively transforming the war environment. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 2008
  • 2008
  • 2008