In a timely interview for Medya News, Dr Gisela Penteker of the Nobel peace prize winning organisation, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War tells Mark Campbell that there are signs that Turkey is using chemical weapons against the Kurds in northern Iraq and that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) must go to investigate whether these allegations are true or not.
In July this year, Medya News published pictures and videos taken by Kurdish fighters of a dark green Turkish army artillery shell that had been dropped on Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq by Turkish helicopters. The shell was crumpled and dented as it had been dropped from a great height but had failed to explode on impact and was still intact. Emblazoned in large yellow letters stencilled right across across the artillery shell were the words ‘Ammonium Nitrate.’
Videos have also been published on Kurdish media of the dead bodies of Kurdish fighters clearly exhibiting injuries seemingly consistent with allegations of chemical weapons use.
Other videos have been recorded by Kurdish fighters and published in the Kurdish media showing what look to be clouds of white gases coming from the entrances of tunnels and caves of the mountainous and rugged terrain in northern Iraq, where the fighting is at its fiercest.
Turkey is a signatory to the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The Convention aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by the signatories to the convention.
However, Kurdish fighters and commanders have been consistently reporting that Turkey is employing the use of chemical weapons in the military operations that it has been carrying out in northern Iraq against the Kurdish forces in the Zap, Avashin and Metina regions since April of this year and are calling for urgent international investigations.
As recently as 4 September, there were, yet again, reports of Kurdish villagers whose village was struck by artillery shells reportedly fired by the Turkish army near the city of Zakho and who also reportedly suffered symptoms such as burns and vomiting. This was also documented by a Christian human rights organisation, the Christian Peacemakers Teams (CPT) working in the region.
Claims that Turkey has used chemical weapons or indeed accusations that Turkey has committed systematic war crimes against the Kurds are not new of course and there are infamous videos that can be accessed even online of Turkish soldiers openly executing Kurdish women fighters and there are many pictures of Turkish soldiers posing for trophy photographs with extra judicially murdered Kurds that are infamous amongst Kurds and Kurdish rights activists.
This week, to talk about this issue, Medya News spoke to Dr Gisela Penteker, a member of the peace organisation, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). Dr. Gisela Penteker is a physician living in Germany.
IPPNW is a non-partisan federation of national medical groups in 63 countries, representing doctors, medical students, health workers, and concerned individuals who all share the goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world free from the threat of nuclear annihilation. The IPPNW was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.
During her long and distinguished career, Dr Penteker has worked as a family doctor and her work is now mostly with refugees. For more than 20 years, with a group of physicians and social workers, she has travelled to the Kurdish region in Turkey and met with many different organisations, mainly human rights workers, physicians, lawyers, social workers, and lobbies on the Kurdish issue in Germany and Europe.
In the podcast interview, Dr Penteker suggested that Turkey may be using chemical weapons in northern Iraq against the Kurds and she called on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to go to investigate whether these allegations are true or not.