Violence has engulfed southeastern Turkey since a ceasefire between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) ended two years ago. Most recently, ten PKK fighters were killed in airstrikes carried out on Friday in the province of Hakkari.
Thousands of civilians have been killed in the process. The exact number is unknown, but human rights groups are attempting to tally the dead. The Turkish government, however, appears to be standing in the way.
"The Turkish government is blocking access for independent investigations into alleged mass abuses against civilians across southeast Turkey," Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement released on Monday.
"The alleged abuses include unlawful killings of civilians, mass forced civilian displacement, and widespread unlawful destruction of private property."
According to HRWs own numbers, at least 338 civilians have been killed during the clashes.
While Ankara denies that it has targeted civilians, HRW claims that there is reason to believe otherwise, and is demanding the government allow a comprehensive investigation.
'The Turkish government’s effective blockade of areas of the southeast fuels concerns of a major cover-up," Emma Sinclair-Webb, senior Turkey researcher with HRW, said as part of the statement.
"The Turkish government should give the UN and nongovernmental groups immediate access to the area to document what’s going on there."
Beginning in the summer of 2015, Ankara imposed several round-the-clock curfews, preventing civilians from fleeing regions where the military operations took place, particularly in the city of Cizre.
"In April, the police blocked Human Rights Watch from interviewing families of victims and witnesses to the deaths. Before authorities obstructed its work, however, Human Rights Watch was able to document in detail eight civilian deaths in Cizre," the statement reads.
"In addition, Human Rights Watch had already documented eight deaths that occurred in September 2015, also during a curfew and security operations."
On June 8, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that the country’s security services had killed some 7,600 PKK members, since July 2015.