Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar confirmed the use of banned chemicals by the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) during Tuesday’s 2023 budgetary session.
“This matter of chemicals has been used and discussed enough times,” Akar said. “In certain places, (tear gas) can be used en masse without intent.”
While the use of tear gas is prohibited as a method of warfare, it is permitted for use “in hostage rescue operations, to protect human life”, the minister said.
The TAF’s inventory is inspected in compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), he said, and accused MPs voicing concerns over allegations that the TAF had been using such substances against Kurdish fighters in Iraq and Syria of “black propaganda in support of a villainous organisation”.
The minister had previously admitted to the use of tear gas against the People’s Defence Forces (HPG), the military wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), in the aftermath of a military operation in Iraq’s Mount Gara in February 2021.
The TAF gives “maximum care that no army gives” to protect civilians, infrastructure and historic sites, Akar asserted.
However, the use of tear gas in a military operation does fall under prohibited uses, according to Jan Van Aken of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), which recently published a report on the allegations against Turkey.
Many activists were taken into police custody for holding demonstrations to demand independent investigations into the accusations, while Turkish Medical Association President Dr Şebnem Korur Fincancı was arrested in late October over her comments that the video evidence produced by HPG could be indicative of chemical weapon use, and that there should be an independent investigation into the matter.