Search This Blog

Saturday, March 7, 2015

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

This is a document that looks into Turkey's War on the Kurds

Turkey burned down forests in the Kurdish areas of Turkey, in a vain attempt to fight the PKK. - I.B.


We examine environmental aspects of the conflict between the Turkish state and the insurgent Kurdistan Workers Party (Partiya Karkerên 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.


  • Turkey
  • Tunceli
  • Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan
  • Turkish Armed Forces
  • Environment
  • Forest
  • Forest fire;
  • Counterinsurgency
  • Armed conflict
  • GIS
  • Remote-sensing