Forty-four intellectuals from Iraq signed a joint letter addressed to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), demanding an urgent field investigation of Turkey’s alleged use of chemical weapons in northern Iraq in its ongoing operations targeting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Turkey’s air-and-ground campaign in Iraqi Kurdistan has entered its sixth month now. Since April, there are increasing numbers of reports coming from Iraqi Kurdistan that Turkey deploys chemical warfare.
“The Turkish army perpetrates the same crimes committed by Saddam Hussein against the Kurdish people by deploying chemical weapons,” the signatories of the letter stated.
The Iraqi intellectuals stated that OPCW should send a delegation in the field and launch an investigation to assess whether chemical weapons had been used.
Hawar News Agency (ANHA) provided the list of the names of the signatories of the letter.
The People’s Defence Forces (HPG) had announced that six HPG fighters died as a result of a chemical attack by Turkey in the Girê Sor area of Avaşîn, in the Medya Defence Zones in Iraqi Kurdistan, on 3 September 2021.
Mizgin Dalaho, a The Free Women’s Units (YJA-Star) fighter and a survivor of the attack that killed six fighters, later told ANF that they were exposed to “explosives and chemical gas.”
“The fumes and the smells of these chemical gases were all different from each other. Sometimes, they used pepper spray, sometimes they used various other chemical gases. The first gas they used was green, leaving a taste of sugar in the mouth, and the smell was like burnt sugar. This gas smelled so good. They used gases that produced such a nice smell and taste, so that we would not be worried about the smell, and would inhale it,” she said.
The HPG has issued several statements and provided footage and images announcing that Turkey has deployed chemical weapons and various toxic gases to enable it to get into the war tunnels in the Zap, Metina and Avashin regions of Iraqi Kurdistan that are being used by the Kurdish fighters of the HPG and YJA-Star.
Human rights defenders from all over the world have begun to act on the increasing numbers of reports of use of chemical warfare against Kurdish fighters.
Most recently, Erasmo Palazzotto, a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, addressed a parliamentary question to Luigi Di Maio, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, relating to Turkey’s incursions into Iraqi Kurdistan and North and East Syria and the use of chemical weapons against the Kurds.
Palazzotto posted a message on Twitter indicating that he submitted the question, calling ‘for an immediate halt to the use of chemical weapons and Turkish military attacks against the Kurdish people.’
Last week, in Switzerland, volunteers from the Kurdish Society Centre of Bern and Mizgin Women’s Assembly, both based Bern, formed a delegation to initiate a process in Bern to act on the claims of Turkey’s use of chemical weapons.
Gökay Akbulut, an MP for the Lefty Party, submitted on 14 October a parliamentary question to the German parliament that stated that the German government had knowledge of Turkey’s use of chemical weapons in Iraqi Kurdistan and he asked how the weapons could have been provided to them.