Kurdish Syrian refugees from kobani, Syria wait near the Turkish-Syrian border, Sept. 2014, as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) began an attack on the city, eventually overtaking it in Oct. 2014. Children and elderly crossed mine fields separating Kobani from the Turkish border, in an effort to flee the fighting. According to UNHCR, 170,000 inhabitants of Kobani took refuge in the camps in Turkey.
Kurdish Syrian refugees from Kobani, Syria wait near the Turkish-Syrian border, Sept. 2014, as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS/ISIL) began an attack on the city, eventually overtaking it in Oct. 2014. Children and elderly crossed mine fields separating Kobani from the Turkish border, in an effort to flee the fighting. According to UNHCR, 170,000 inhabitants of Kobani took refuge in the camps in Turkey.Emin Ozmen— Le Journal
Kurdish Syrian refugees from kobani, Syria wait near the Turkish-Syrian border, Sept. 2014, as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) began an attack on the city, eventually overtaking it in Oct. 2014. Children and elderly crossed mine fields separating Kobani from the Turkish border, in an effort to flee the fighting. According to UNHCR, 170,000 inhabitants of Kobani took refuge in the camps in Turkey.
Kurds in Suruc, Turkey, opposite the Syrian city of Kobani, during the Spring festival of Newroz, March 17, 2015 .
Refugees from Kobani, Syria line up at the Turkish-Syrian border in Suruc, Turkey to support the Kurds fighting against ISIS, Jan. 2015
People gathered during a funeral in Istanbul, Oct. 2015, following the twin bombings at a peace rally in Ankara, the Turkish capital, where about 100 people were killed and hundreds more were wounded.
Turkish Armed Forces at the Turkish- Syrian border as clashes escalated between the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS/ISIL) militants and pro-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) forces, Sept. 2014.
Tanks of the Turkish Armed Forces line the Turkish-Syrian border, as clashes intensified between the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL/ISIS) militants and pro-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) forces, Sept. 2014.
Destruction in Cizre, southeastern Turkey where Turkish special forces have been fighting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Families returned to their destroyed homes, March 2016.
A barricade built by members of the Revolutionary Patriot Youth Movement (YDG-H), Sirnak, Turkey, Jan. 2016.
Turkish police fire tear gas on protesting Kurds, after the election appeared to deliver a clear victory to the party of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by President Recep Erdogan, Diyarbakir, Turkey, Nov. 2015.
Men investigate a basement where 28 people were killed by Turkish special forces, Cizre, March 2016.
Supporters of Turkey's pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) celebrate in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir after polls closed. Turkey's long-dominant Justice and Development Party (AKP), led by President Recep Erdogan, won a parliamentary majority, Nov. 2015.
Thousands of Kurds celebrate the Newroz Spring festival in Diyarbakir, southern Turkey, March 2016, after months of fighting between security forces and Kurdish separatists. Nowruz, the Farsi-language word for 'New Year' is an ancient Persian festival, celebrated on the first day of Spring in the Central Asian Republics, Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan and Iran.
Fatma Tetik sits near a wall with threatening graffiti written by Turkish special forces. Her husband, Ali Tetik, was killed during fighting between Turkish special forces and PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), Cizre, March 2016.
Aftermath of violent clashes between the Turkish government and PKK rebels, Cizre, Turkey, March 2016.
Zahide Onen stands in the wreckage of her home that was hit by a Turkish military rocket, while she and her family slept, Derik, Turkey, Dec. 2015.
Walking past a make-shift barricade, a man carries his daughter to the hospital in a wheelbarrow, Nusaybin, Turkey, Dec. 2015.
A bedroom that was hit by a rocket during clashes between PKK and Turkish special military forces in Nusaybin, Turkey, Dec. 2015.
A family stands near their home that was damaged during fighting between government troops and separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters, in the Kurdish town of Silopi, near the border with Iraq, Jan. 2016
Turkish special forces patrol the streets in the Kurdish town of Silopi, southeastern Turkey, near the border with Iraq. Jan. 2016.
A child carries metal scraps in the ruins of Cizre, southeastern Turkey. The city suffered during 78 days of curfew imposed by the Turkish government in an attempt to suppress militants, March 2016.
Kurdish fighters use a sheet as protection against Turkish special forces snipers, Nusaybin, Turkey, Feb. 2016.
A child plays in his house that was damaged during fighting between government troops and separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters, in the Kurdish town of Silopi, southeastern Turkey, near the border with Iraq, Jan. 2016.
Young boys climb a platform adorned with flags during ‎Newroz celebrations in Diyarbakir, Turkey, March 2016. In southeastern Turkey clashes between Turkish military security forces and the Kurdish separatists resumed in the summer of 2015 after a two-year cease fire.
Portraits of Derik's Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members who have been killed by Turkish security forces over the last 40 years hang on a wall, Derik, Turkey, Dec. 2015.
Members of the Civil Protection Units (YPS), a Kurdish rebel group, warm up and play music near a fire in the YPS headquarters in Nusaybin, Turkey, Jan. 2016. The YPS was formed at the end of 2015 as a result of curfews imposed by the Turkish security forces and increased clashes.
Members of Civil Protection Units (YPS) stand near a barricade, Idil, Turkey, Jan. 2016
A member of Revolutionary Patriot Youth Movement (YDG-H) shows a bullet used during clashes against Turkish special military forces, Nusaybin, Turkey, Dec. 2015.
Police use tear gas and a water cannon against protesters during a demonstration calling for the end of the curfews in Sur, Cizre and Silopi districts Diyarbakir, Turkey, Jan. 2016.
A funeral for a victim of clashes between PKK and Turkish special forces in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of Turkey, Jan. 2016.
Mourners at a funeral for twelve people who died in the Kurdish towns of Cizre and Silopi, southeastern Turkey. They were killed during a period of curfews imposed by Turkish security forces attempting to oust Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels from urban centers, Jan. 2016.
Mourners attend a funeral for twelve people who died in Cizre and Silopi, southeastern Turkey, during a period of clashes and curfews imposed by Turkish security forces, Jan. 2016.
Mourners at a funeral in Sirnak, Turkey, for a victim of the clashes between PKK and Turkish special army in Cizre, Jan. 2016.
A family mourns the death of their 17-year-old son, Kasim, who was killed when the building he was in was destroyed by Turkish special forces, Cizre, Turkey, March 2016.
A man walks in the ruins in Cizre, Turkey. The city was badly damaged during the clashes between Turkish security forces and the Kurdish PKK militants, Cizre, Turkey, March 2016.
Kurdish Syrian refugees from Kobani, Syria wait near the Turkish-Syrian border, Sept. 2014, as the Islamic State of Iraq
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Emin Ozmen— Le Journal
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Photographing Turkey's Hidden War

Jun 16, 2016

In the Kurdish towns of southeastern Turkey, the war is coming home. Since the collapse of the peace process between the Turkish government and Kurdish rebels last year, a devastating conflict has unfolded in the urban centers of the region, pitting young militants against Turkish military and police.

The Kurds are an ethnic minority group spread throughout Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran, with hundreds of thousands more living in diaspora. Inside Turkey, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, known by the acronym PKK, has waged an insurgency against the central government on and off for decades.

When the conflict reignited in the summer of 2015, a new generation of Kurds was initiated into the violence. Young Kurdish militants seized control of neighborhoods in towns in the southeast. The Turkish military placed entire towns under 24-hour curfews and shelled residential areas, destroying more than 6,000 buildings and displacing more than 350,000 people.

At least 338 civilians have been killed since last summer, according to Turkey’s Human Rights Foundation. And the government says that more than 500 members of the security forces have been killed, along with around 5,000 Kurdish militants in both Turkey and Iraq.

Read more: Deadly Bombings in Turkey More Evidence Terror Has Come Home

Kurdish armed groups have also carried out a series of bombings in the capital, Ankara, and in Istanbul. On June 7, 11 people including seven police officers were killed in a car bombing in Istanbul claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, which is reported to be a PKK splinter group.

For the Turkish-born photographer Emin Ozmen, there's little hope of a peaceful resolution to the conflict. "[It] brings a lot of anger to the young Kurds who are living in this region," he says. "I feel that the long-term costs of these operations will be high, even if the fighting stop. Children and teenagers feel more and more disconnected from their country."

Ozmen, who's been documenting the conflict for the past year, feels a responsibility to photograph the impact, both physical and psychological, of this issue. "A hidden war is going on right now in Turkey," he says. "But without evidence, there is no war, that's why it's important for me to document it."

With reporting by Olivier Laurent

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