Turkey has been carrying out military operations in Iraqi Kurdistan since April 2021. Although the Turkish administration says that only the fighters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) are being targeted in these operations, areas have been hit without any concern for the impact on civilians.
While there have been numerous allegations that the Turkish army used chemical weapons in the process, international bodies have remained silent for months now, including the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, (OPCW).
Medya Haber spoke to Dimitrios Roussopoulos, a prominent writer, publisher and political activist, about the allegations of the use of chemical weapons and the international silence.
“The OPCW is an independent body based in the Hague. It has some 500 people who work for it with a very large budget in millions of euros. But the fact of the matter is that they have not conducted any investigation of their own into the areas that we are concerned with that can demonstrate that chemical weapons have been used by the Turkish military,” Roussopoulos said.
“What I would strongly suggest is that a very high level international delegation be organised, that will visit these areas on the ground and examine whatever evidence can be examined. Such an international delegation should consist of medical doctors, other prominent people and representatives of important international organisations. And that they should then come back and report what they have seen, people they have spoken to, hospitals that they have visited. And they should also report it to the human rights commission of the European Union in Brussels. They should go to the headquarters of the OPCW in the Hague and they should go directly to the United Nations and speak there. This is the kind of civil society presence and pressure that has to be organised, and we have to put aside for the moment, expecting national governments, this one or that one, to speak out against what the Turkish military may or may not be doing in that part of the world.”
Upon a question if he would join such a delegation, Roussopoulos replied that he would.
“Given certain circumstances I will. I’d be very committed to doing that because since I am active in the nuclear disarmament movement and the peace movement. I’m very concerned about this kind of possible civil rights, human rights violations, and war crimes in fact.”
Noting that a recent response by the EU to the allegations was restricted to merely a call on both sides of the conflict for a peaceful resolution, he once again emphasised the necessity for an independent inquiry.
“I look at the discussions that have been taking place at the human rights commission and the security commission at the European Union in June of this year. A question was posed to the president of the commission. In October of this year, the commission replied about the use of chemical weapons by the Turkish military in exactly those areas you’re concerned about. What did the president of the commission say? ‘No reports of confirmed chemical attacks have been made.’ However, he then goes on to say that the commission and the European Union has urged Turkey, Iraq, Syria, as well as the Kurds, to carry out peaceful negotiations to work out better relations. So what does this say? It says that an independent way of finding out what is happening, documenting it with serious reporting has to take place in order to open up this subject to the international view.”