A number of Iraqi Kurds are about to launch legal proceedings against Turkey, asking for compensation in respect of financial damages suffered due to Turkey’s cross-border operations, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported on Sunday.
According to a 2021 report prepared by a commission established in the Kurdistan Regional Parliament in northern Iraq, more than 800 villages have been evacuated due to Turkey’s cross-border operations into its neighbour’s territory, which started in 1983. Turkey has intensified its military operations in northern Iraq during 2022, and the number of villages evacuated as a result has reached 1,000, while some 500,000 civilians have had to leave their livelihoods and have been relocated.
Some 5,000 villages in Turkey have been evacuated as a result of Turkey’s war against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) since the 1980s. The displaced villagers sought their rights both in Turkey and in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). As the legal complaints compounded, the Turkish parliament adopted the “Law on the Compensation of Damages that Occurred due to Terror and the Fight against Terror” in 2004, at a time the country had high hopes for European Union membership. Commissions were established under governorates as required by the law to decide on the amounts of compensation.
Kurdish victims of evacuated villages in northern Iraq are now considering using the same law to apply to Turkish authorities and to demand compensation for damages they have suffered.
“We decided that the same law can be applied to people who have suffered damages in Kurdistan. The law does not state that applicants have to be inside Turkey’s borders. The only criterion is that the damage occurred during the Turkish Armed Forces fight against terrorism. Even if it is the PKK that causes the damage, the state has to compensate for it,” lawyer Hişyar Özalp told DW.
According to Özalp, the first applications will be lodged with the compensation commissions set up in Turkey’s Hakkari and Şırnak provinces on the border with Iraq. If the commissions refuse the applications, the villagers will apply to courts and higher courts in Turkey. In case the legal process in Turkey ends without any result, they will then apply to the ECHR, following the same legal path followed by villagers in Turkey.