Timeline: PKK conflict with Turkey

A look at some of the major developments in the armed conflict between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the government.

The PKK has moderated its goals from full independence to broader political and cultural autonomy [GALLO/GETTY]

Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has announced he will make a “historic” call on Thursday, raising expectations of an end to the bloody conflict.

Below is a timeline of events in the conflict between the PKK and the Turkish government.


March 18: Ocalan confirms intention to call a ceasefire on the Kurdish New Year (March 21), Kurdish politicians say after meeting with him.

March 13: Kurdish rebels free eight Turkish prisoners in response to the peace push.

February 23: A second delegation of Kurdish politicians visit Ocalan on his prison island near Istanbul as part of the new peace efforts.

Turkey allows the use of the Kurdish language in court.

Three Kurdish activists, including PKK co-founder Sakine Cansiz, are shot dead in Paris.

January: Two Kurdish politicians pay a landmark visit to Ocalan in prison.


December: Ankara acknowledges nascent peace talks between the intelligence services and Ocalan with the goal of disarming the rebels.

November: Ocalan calls for an end to the hunger strike.

September: Hundreds of Kurds in prisons launch a hunger strike, demanding language rights and better conditions for jailed Ocalan.


December: Thirty-four civilians, mistaken for rebels, are killed in a botched Turkish airstrike near the Iraqi border.

October: Twenty-four Turkish soldiers are killed in one of the deadliest Kurdish rebel attacks in years.

September: A news agency releases voice recordings of failed peace talks held secretly between Turkey’s intelligence agency and senior PKK officials in Oslo.

April: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pays a landmark trip to Iraqi Kurdistan.


January: State television launches Kurdish language channel.

The Turkish government announces a “Kurdish initiative,” a package that seeks increased rights for the minority, triggering a nationalist backlash. Police round up hundreds of people, including activists, journalists and politicians, suspected of ties to the PKK.


Turkey’s parliament allows the army to stage cross-border operations against Kurdish rebel hideouts in northern Iraq.


The PKK increases ambushes and bomb attacks.


Ankara allows the limited use of the Kurdish language in state television broadcasts.


Ocalan’s death sentence is commuted to life imprisonment after Turkey abolishes the death penalty.


Ocalan is captured in Kenya and sentenced to death for treason.The PKK rolled back on its demands for an independent Kurdish state, calling instead for more autonomy. 


Turkish incursion inside Iraq involving more than 30,000 troops. Army crackdowns in Turkey’s southeast increase.


The Turkish army mounts a major air and land operation against PKK bases in northern Iraq.


The Gulf War paves the way to de facto autonomy for Kurds in northern Iraq. Attacks inside Turkey launched from the other side of the shared border increase.


Turkey puts 11 provinces under a state of emergency rule, increasing the military initiative in the southeast.


The PKK takes up arms against Ankara, waging a war in the Kurdish-majority southeast and larger Anatolia region.


Abdullah Ocalan founds the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) for an independent Kurdish state.


Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan sign the Treaty of Saadabad to coordinate their action against rebellious Kurds.


Several Kurdish rebellions for independence are subdued by force, resulting in the deaths of thousands.


The Treaty of Lausanne establishes the boundaries of Turkey and spreads the Kurds among several nations.


The Treaty of Sevres, signed between the Ottoman Empire and Allied forces, envisages the creation of a Kurdish state. Plan is annulled after Turks win “Independence War.”

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies