Imagining transitional justice in the ongoing Kurdish conflict
: a victim-centred analysis

  • Nisan Alici

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis explores the future directions of transitional justice in Turkey and the Kurdish conflict, specifically examining the victims’ and other grassroots actors’ perspectives, demands, and experiences. Although there is a long legacy of state violence and atrocities, Turkey has never developed a transitional justice framework to deal with these past crimes, particularly in the Kurdish region. The thesis uniquely positions Turkey’s Kurdish conflict within transitional justice literature and connects it to the ongoing debates about expanding transitional justice to so-called “non-transition” cases and transformative approaches.

Using locally grounded data from in-person and online interviews with grassroots actors, the thesis shows that these actors have used transitional justice discourse to pursue truth, justice, and accountability. The empirical research, and a case study of the Saturday Mothers movement, shows that despite the absence of an official transitional justice agenda, or a peace agreement that sets out a transitional justice strategy, it was still possible to contribute to the transitiona justice pillars of truth, justice, guarantees of non-recurrence, and memorialization. The findings also highlight how civil society can use the ongoing and unfolding process to develop a roadmap for a community-led transitional justice process.

The thesis outlines learnings from the experience of bottom-up and agency-oriented efforts and approaches in Turkey. It argues that transitional justice as a field can benefit from incorporating more grassroots voices to move it beyond a prescriptive and elite-driven approach to transitional justice toward a more transformative agenda. Transitional justice theory and practice can also benefit from the Turkish case by better understanding how processes can work during, or are limited by, ongoing conflicts.
Date of AwardAug 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorSiobhan Wills (Supervisor) & Brandon Hamber (Supervisor)


  • Peace
  • Organised victims
  • Transformative justice
  • Saturday mothers
  • Disappearances

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