Turkey has developed 73 checkpoints in southeast provinces since 2015 - report
Available satellite imagery from February-May 2019 shows that Turkey has extensively strengthened its security infrastructure by establishing 73 checkpoints across southeast provinces since the resurgence of a military conflict with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in 2015, citizen journalism website Bellingcat said on Wednesday.
The Turkish government launched peace talks with the PKK in 2009 to end the conflict that began with the PKK's first attack in 1984. The PKK’s jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan announced a ceasefire in 2013, but the peace process collapsed in 2015 under the pressure of domestic and international problems, particularly the ongoing civil war in Syria.
According to Bellingcat, the new checkpoints evidence that Turkey has been implementing a new strategy to employ “non-stop anti-terrorist security and military operations, not only in city centres where PKK-affiliated persons might live, but also in rural areas.”
The website said the constructions of the new checkpoints had started after the Turkish military’s operations in Kurdish cities and towns in late 2015 and early 2016.
The checkpoint map prepared by Bellingat indicates a shift from informal roadblocks in 2015 and early 2016 to more permanent and fortified checkpoints. According to data compiled by the website, Turkey at the moment has one mobile checkpoint, seven “roadblock” checkpoints, 32 checkpoints with “outposts”, and 33 “overhead structures” across 11 provinces in southeast.
“We can see checkpoints appear in both urban and rural settings further corroborating the government’s shift to penetrating rural PKK strongholds with checkpoints at important junctures between villages and isolated communities,” Bellingcat said.
Additionally, according to a series of official documents in 2016, the Turkish government approved the appropriation of a total of about 45 acres of land specifically allotted for new “police security checkpoints”, Bellingcat said.
“Most of the appropriated land is in southeast provinces and corresponds to hotspots of conflict similar to the current system of checkpoints. While construction of these new bases and checkpoints has already begun in some provinces, most of the appropriated parcels remain empty,” the website said.