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Introducing the Human Rights Violations Dataset for the Kurdish Conflict in Turkey, 1990–2018

Demet Yalcin Mousseau EMAIL logo , Justin Napolitano and Alex Olsen


This study introduces a new event dataset on the human rights violations in the Kurdish conflict in Turkey perpetrated by both the State and the armed rebel group, the PKK (the Kurdistan Workers Party), from 1990 to 2018. The dataset codes human rights violation events that victimize civilians, including women and children, identifying the perpetrator, type of victim, type of human right violation, and the place of the violation. The categories of human rights violations include the physical and political rights drawn from the laws and treaties adopted by the U.N., such as killings or deaths of civilians, illegal detention and arrests, and freedom of peaceful assembly. The dataset is useful in examining the trends and motives of perpetrators in committing these violations and for seeking to understand the extent to which state and non-state rebel groups abide by international norms in armed conflicts. The framework of this dataset, although developed for the Kurdish conflict, is applicable and can be extended to other armed conflict cases, facilitating cross-conflict research on a more comparative basis.

Funding source: Gerda Henkel Foundation

Award Identifier / Grant number: 1062738

Funding statement: This study was supported by Gerda Henkel Foundation, Funder Id:, Grant Number: 1062738.


Table 3:

The human rights framework.a

Human rights I Human rights II: subcategory
1. Crimes Against Humanityb 1. Killing (Art. 7, 1998 for violations 1–7 and Art. 6, 1998 for violation 8)
2. Enslavement
3. Deportation/Forcible Transportation
4. Illegal Imprisonment (Political Imprisonment)
5. Torture
6. Targeted persecution
2. Crimes Against Womenc 1. Rape
2. Sexual slavery (Art. 9, 2001)
3. Forced prostitution
4. Forced pregnancy
5. Forced sterilization
6. Other forms of sexual violence of comparable gravity
7. Trafficking
3. Crimes Against Childrenc,d 1. Child labor (Art 9, 2001)
2. Child soldiering (Art 38–39, 1989 and Art 1–5, 2000)
3. Sexual slavery (ILO Art.3 1999 and UNGA Art. 9, 2001)
4. Trafficking
5. Trial as adults (Art. 2, Section 11, A, 1990)a
4. Collective Developmentala,b 1. Right to self-determination (Art 21, 1948)
2. Right to freedom of expression (Art 19, 1948)
3. Right to freedom of thought and religion (Art 18, 1948)
4. Rights of ethnic and religious minorities (Art 2, 1948)
5. Right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association (Art 20, 1948)
  1. aFrom the United Nations General Assembly, unless otherwise indicated. International law sources in parentheses.

  2. bUN, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 2015.

  3. cUN, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, 1998.

  4. dUN, OHCR, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1990.

Table 4:

Variables in the data.

Short Name Description
ID Unique identifier of each human rights violation event.
StartDate Lists the day, month, and year in DD/MM/YYYY format for when the event begins. If the exact day cannot be identified, this is the best approximation of the start date.
EndDate Lists the day, month, and year in DD/MM/YYYY format for when the event ends. If the exact day cannot be identified, this is the best approximation of the start date.
Perpetuator The perpetuator of the event. 0 = Unknown; 1 = State; 2 = PKK.
Pname The name of the perpetuator of the event.
Victype Victim type. 1 = Children; 2 = Women; 3 = Civilian; 4 = Turkish police; 5 = Turkish soldiers.
Victypename Victim type string.
Physical “1” indicates violation of physical rights; “0” indicates violation of political rights.
HR_Gen Overarching human rights violation type. See Appendix Table 3, column 1.
HR_Genname Overarching human rights violation type string.
HR_Subtype Subcategory of human rights violation type. See Appendix Table 3, column 1.
HR_Subtypename Subcategory of human rights violation type string.
TotalKilled Total deaths.
DthsWomen The best estimate of deaths of women.
DthsChildren The best estimate of deaths of children.
WomenRaped “1” indicates at least one rape of a female; “0” otherwise.
IllegalDetent The number of people illegally detained by the State.
IllegalImprison The number of people illegally imprisoned by the State.
IllegalArrest The number of illegal arrests committed by the State.
WomenEffected “1” indicates event involves at least one woman as victim; “0” otherwise.
ChildrenEffected “1” indicates event involves at least one chile as victim; “0” otherwise.
Country Country the event occurs.
Province Province in Turkey where the event took place.
Provincename Province in Turkey where the event took place string.
Region Region in Turkey where the event took place.
Regionname Region in Turkey where the event took place string.
Kurdish Populated Region “1” indicates event occurred in Kurdish populated region of Turkey; “0” otherwise.


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Published Online: 2019-11-23

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