The solo demonstration of Kurdish man Xwaşnav Ata outside the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague has reached its second month, ANF reported.
To mark the occasion, Kurdish political parties and institutions paid a visit to Ata and supported his demonstration criticising the use of chemical weapons by Turkish forces.
For the last two years, multiple reports from areas of northern Iraq including Zap, Metina and Avaşîn have accused Turkey of using chemical weapons against Kurdish fighters, including use in populated areas.
Despite one report recording hundreds of villagers experiencing symptoms consistent with chemical weapons, the OPCW is yet to investigate the allegations.
And, though reports of chemical weapons use in northern Iraq reached a visiting delegation from the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear Warfare, the doctors were prevented from visiting the sites in question, ANF reported.
As reports of the prohibited attacks continue to come in, Ata has vowed to hold the vigil every day until the global watchdog holds a proper investigation.
Zübeyir Aydar, an executive council member of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (YNK) representative Şêx Şemal, and Brussels Kurdish Institute chair Derwêş Ferho were among the visitors.
Saying he takes courage from such visits, Ata said the OPCW had neither spoken to him about the issue nor listened to the demands for an investigation.
“We are hopeful, we take courage from our people and I am holding a vigil now, in the rain,” said Ata.
“The OPCW claims to be an independent institution, but they are careless about this vigil against the use of chemical weapons and they do not investigate the use of banned weapons,” he said.
During the visit, KCK executive council member Aydar said Turkey had used chemical weapons against Kurds in Iraq, especially in parts of the Zap, Avaşîn and Metîna areas.
“We all want, and everybody wants the world to pay attention to the use of banned weapons against our people,” said Aydar.
“They are now being used against us, and if the world stays silent these weapons will be used against other people.”
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, doctors from the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear Warfare said they had been prevented from visiting the villages of Hirur and Kani Masi in Amadiya region.
Doctors Jan van Aken and Joseph Savari said they had attempted to visit the villages to examine the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack and to talk to one of the alleged victims, but had been prevented by local authorities.
On 11 October 2021, 548 people living in an area close to the site of alleged Turkish attacks were hospitalised due to complaints of “excessive tearing of the eyes, blurred vision, sudden headaches, nosebleeds, difficulty in breathing and rash,” according to Mezopotamya News Agency.
The OPCW started procedures for an investigation into earlier allegations to determine whether Turkey had used white phosphorus against Syrian Kurdish forces, then abandoned the investigation in November 2019, the British newspaper The Times reported at the time.
Turkey admits to using tear gas. Kurdish groups in Iraq have reported more than 1,300 chemical weapons attacks since Turkish forces launched Operation Claw-Lock in April, and 14 casualties due to chemical exposure since the year began.