Bakur is the Kurdish name for the southeastern part of Turkey, home to nearly half world’s Kurds.
Since 1984, when the Marxist-Leninist Kurdish political party the PKK launched the armed struggle against the Turkish government, more than 40,000 people have died. Violence and oppression have hit at the core of the region’s social fabric, impacting education and business, stalling growth and progress.
In eastern and southeastern Anatolia, socioeconomic development has been virtually non-existent. Kurdish society calls for full recognition of their identity by the Turkish government. Meanwhile, Kurdish minorities in Iraq and Syria have been increasing in power.
Since July 2015, the region has been plunged into some of its worst violence in years with daily clashes between Turkish army and militants from PKK. The new conflict has shattered a two-year ceasefire that raised hopes to end three decades of fighting.
Several towns and cities in the southeast have broken away from Turkey, with groups of young Kurds – not affiliated to the traditional PKK chain-command and instead belonging to the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H) – who have taken up arms, dug trenches and erected barricades to seal off neighborhoods and prevent the advances of the Turkish security forces to assert control of their territory. In response, Turkish government forces have declared a state of emergency, imposed curfews and implemented repressive measures against Kurds. A number of towns in the southeast have become battlefields and massive security operations are under way against the Kurdish armed movement, during which dozens of civilians have died.
My portfolio is a selection of self-funded trips and stories from the region in the past five years. I investigated the effects of war of the 90s, I followed the peace talks between the Turkish government and PKK in 2012, and then I witnessed the beginning of the current regional unrest, the end of the ceasefire and the rise of the Kurdish armed youth movement.