Belgium’s Van Steenbrugge Advocaten law office has written to the United Nations (UN) General Secretary to request a fact-finding mission to Northern Iraq to investigate whether Turkey is using chemical weapons, reported Mezopotamya News Agency.
The 7 November letter, signed by Van Steenbrugge lawyer and Belgian former deputy prime minister Dr. Johan Vande Lanotte, was sent on behalf of Van Steenbrugge’s clients, the Committee Against the Use of Chemical Weapons in South Kurdistan.
It referred to a series of allegations that Turkey has violated the Chemical Weapons Convention by using chemical weapons against Kurdish guerrillas in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
The letter urged the UN to launch a fact-finding commission to investigate the allegations, which have so far not been subject to a proper international investigation.
This year, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) reported on some of the accusations against Turkey, finding that enough indirect evidence had amassed to make a comprehensive investigation necessary.
But the IPPNW was prevented from visiting the region where an alleged chemical attack had taken place, and, unable to conduct a thorough investigation of its own, called for international institutions to step in.
The 7 November letter reiterated the concerns of the IPPNW and set out the case the group made in favour of an international probe.
This included Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar’s open acknowledgement that Turkish military forces had used tear gas in combat, “which is an outright violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.”
The IPPNW report also noted the discovery at an abandoned Turkish military site of hydrochloric acid and bleach containers, which can be used to produce chlorine gas, as well as protective gas masks.
This, it said, constituted indirect evidence of chemical weapons usage, to add to other evidence including video footage taken by Kurdish guerrillas which is said to show Turkish soldiers using an improvised gas pumping device during a military operation in July.
The letter also referred to the comments made by Turkish Medical Association (TTB) director Şebnem Korur Fincancı, who came to the same conclusion as the IPPNW and was arrested very shortly after her declaration.
Şebnem Korur Fincancı was accused of associating with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) over her recent comments that convulsions seen in a video published by PKK’s military wing were consistent with effects of certain chemicals that have been banned from use in military operations.