The Defend Kurdistan Initiative, a group of some 150 politicians, human rights advocates, journalists, academics, MPs, political activists, ecologists and feminists from all over Europe, have called for a new global campaign against Turkey’s ongoing cross-border operations against Kurdish groups in Syria and Iraq.
The Initiative called for a global action that will start on 30 November, the United Nations day of remembrance for all victims of chemical warfare, and end on 3 December, to show international solidarity against Turkey’s alleged use of chemical weapons in northern Iraq.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, has been severely criticised by human rights advocates due to its inaction in the face of allegations related to Turkey’s use of chemical weapons.
The Defend Kurdistan Initiative said that the OPCW has not attempted to conduct any investigations in the region and even refused to receive reports from journalists and researchers, declaring, “It’s time to take solidarity with Kurdistan to a new level!”
After demonstrations were held in several European cities demanding an independent investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons by Turkey, thousands more people protested against Turkey’s airstrikes in North and East Syria and northern Iraq in the past few days as well.
The Defend Kurdistan Initiative is calling for a display of solidarity with the Kurdish people through actions such as go-ins, street theatre, flash mobs, stadium actions, public video screenings etc., stating that international silence has encouraged the Turkish government to “continue its criminal policy without any expectations of accountability”.
Turkey has been conducting airstrikes targeting power stations, oil sites, schools and even a covid-19 hospital in Kurdish regions in Syria and Iraq since 19 November. The airstrikes have killed dozens, including a journalist who was reporting in the area.
Andreas Schüller, Head of the International Crimes Unit at the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights, condemned Turkey’s actions, saying that the attacks on North and East Syria are incompatible with international law. MEPs have also called on NATO and the European Commission to bring a stop to Turkey’s attacks.
Meanwhile, calls for an investigation into Turkey’s alleged chemical attacks increased after the release by the People’s Defence Forces (HPG) on 18 September of video footage showing a group of soldiers at the mouth of a cave with a device the HPG says is being used to deliver chemical weapons into the cave.
However, the OPCW recently published a video reminding viewers that “An investigation of alleged use of chemical weapons can only be triggered at the request of an OPCW Member State.”
Chemical and biological weapons expert Jan Van Aken of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) said “There is enough evidence to warrant a formal international investigation.”