The 17th International Kurdish Conference, held in the European Parliament, called for an independent international investigation into allegations of chemical weapon use by Turkey’s armed forces in Kurdish-majority areas in Iraq and Syria.
Jan van Aken read the call as a biologist and chemical weapons inspector for the United Nations, and demanded an investigation on whether Turkish troops had used chemical weapons against Kurdish guerrillas in the region. “Certain things raise doubts, and an independent investigation is necessary to determine what happened,” he said.
Aken had previously attempted to visit the region as part of a small delegation to take samples, but the Nobel prize winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) committee was prevented from doing so.
In addition to the call for an international investigation into chemical weapons, the conference also examined the use of armed drones, which it described as extrajudicial and indiscriminate. Belgian lawyer Georges Henri Beauthier, who has visited the region several times, said Turkey was using armed drones on a daily basis, in what he called was a violation of international law. Beauthier called for an international legal framework for the use of drones and said an urgent case should be filed with the European Court of Human Rights to bring an end to impunity.
Salar Mahmud, President of the Kurdistan Writers’ Union on Genocide, said European companies were complicit in the use of chemical weapons, as they provided raw materials to Iraq. Mahmud called for accountability.
Participants also expressed concern about the silence of the international community on Turkey’s actions in Kurdish territories in Syria and Iraq, which they said would amount to war crimes. The conference called for urgent action for accountability and against impunity.
“The international community needs to stand up and take responsibility for ending these atrocities,” said Mahmud. The call for an independent investigation into the use of chemical weapons and an end to drone strikes in the region reflects the growing international concern about the situation, he added.
“We need to ensure that the international community is aware of the situation and the atrocities being committed against the Kurdish people. We need to hold those responsible accountable and bring an end to the impunity that has allowed these crimes to continue,” said Beauthier.