“The Turkish army started using chemical weapons on 10-14 February 2021 in the Garê region; seeing the silence of the international powers it has spread this use more widely,” writes Ferda Çetin for Yeni Özgür Politika.
Hirore is a village attached to and on the border of Duhok.It is a little bit of lush green heaven, full of orchards. Only 30 people now live in Hirore, which was a large village before Turkey’s attacks.
Abdullah Hassan (75), is happy living in the village and working with his vineyards, orchards and gardens. He still lives in the village with his wife and daughter despite the bombs and other dangers.
Abdullah Hassan is shocked by the sound of a bomb that lands very close by at 18.45 on 4 September 2021. He sees the yellow-green cloud of smoke coming quickly towards them and tells his daughter to get into the house quickly.
“They’re dropping chemical bombs”, he says to his wife and daughter. Hassan understands what he is seeing.
He remembers what he was told when he received training in “protecting oneself from chemical weapons” as a peshmergha in the past.
Before long his eyes begin streaming from the smell of the poison and all of their throats begin to burn. Then the coughing starts…
The ambulance they call by telephone takes the family to the nearby health centre. The health workers at the centre understand that they are not faced with an ordinary incident. They refer the patients to the hospital in Zakho. The patients are taken straight to the emergency service.
The first doctor to treat the family, Resul Muhammed, states that he cannot say whether or not it was a chemical attack, but that the symptoms are far from normal.
The doctors at Zakho Hospital cannot give Abdullah Hassan satisfactory information, saying they do not have the equipment to test the data.
Abdullah Hassan is sure that the bomb dropped on the village was chemical in nature. He says that he told the doctor that he knew this but that “the doctors were afraid of stating the facts”.
The public officials and hospital doctors have no desire to conduct a proper investigation into whether a chemical bomb was dropped in Hirore village on 4 September.
Leader of Kani Masi Municipal Council Serbest Akreyi avoids stating his opinion in the matter and says that he has no information because the family were treated in Zakho.
Abdullah Hassan is unsettled by fact that the information is being concealed from them. He says that the words of the doctors who treated him increase his suspicions that it was a chemical attack.
The doctors advised them not to consume the thin-skinned fruit and vegetables from the village, but to only eat the walnuts and the pomegranates.
The officials at the Health Directorate deny this. But the people living in Hirore village say that they have been given this advice.
An NGO by the name of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is following Turkey’s attacks against Kurdistan closely. CPT says, “According to the information we have collected, there was indeed a chemical attack against Hirore village. This is not the first time Turkey has used chemical weapons against Kurdistan.” They add, “We heard that Turkey used chemical weapons repeatedly in the Avashin region too. But we could not go to the region to draw up a report as the local authorities refused permission on security grounds.”
A delegation from the Swedish Left Party who visited South Kurdistan yesterday wanted to go to Hirore village to examine the scene of the incident and collect information. But this request was also denied, this time by the Government of South Kurdistan, on “security” grounds.
Turkey’s occupation of the Avashin, Zap and Metina regions of South Kurdistan is entering into its sixth month. There is a non-stop violent war going on in these areas. The Turkish army is brazenly violating the rules of war in this war. For this reason it is concealing the war from the public and the press. The Turkish army started using chemical weapons on 10-14 February 2021 in the Garê region; and seeing the silence of the international powers it has made spread this use more widely.
After Garê, the Turkish army started using chemical weapons in the regions of Zendura in Metina and Girê Sor and Werxelê in Avashin, where they could not break the guerrilla resistance, as a result of which dozens of guerrillas lost their lives.
The Guerrilla-People’s Defence Centre (HMS) have published co-ordinates of places where chemical weapons have been used. These are: Garê-Siyanê 36.93341N 43.64745E, Zendûra 37.28987N 43.18469E, Gîrê Sor 37.23166N 44.24699E, Mam Reşo 37.15749N 44.11701E, Mervanos 37.20300N 44.01403E, Grê Şehit Serdar 37.21843N 43.98937E and Werxelê 37.15177N 43.15177N 43.15177E (the places where chemical bombs have been dropped can be viewed by using Google Maps).
The UN, the EC, the European parliament, the countries of the EU, the US, the UK and Russia have all remained silent. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), whose headquarters is in La Hague and which has 193 members, is acting as though it has heard nothing.
In 2021, before the annual OPCW meeting, 46 countries, led by the IS, the UK and France, started an initiative to suspend Syria’s right to vote, on the grounds that it had used chemical weapons.
In the vote on 21 April 2021, 87 coutries voted for, 15 countries voted against and 34 countries abstained. Because two of the three conditions necesssary for the decision had been fulfilled, all Syria’s rights and privileges derived from membership were suspended.
So, in the face of so many clear crimes and so many strong claims, why are the UN, NATO and the OPCW; the US, the UK and France; and the 87 countries that voted against Syria not moving into action against Turkey’s use of chemical weapons on the soil and villages of Kurdistan, and against the guerrillas?
The interlocutors of this problem are the states which have put themselves in the position of aiding and abetting the Turkish state in its crimes, including its use of chemical weapons. This is the reason for the silence. These states will not bring an end to their complicity in crimes by themselves.
But the Kurdish people and their friends can and will break the inertia and the silence in this matter.
Pressure will be applied to inform the public, the press, universities, political parties and NGOs of what is really happening. The struggle for the prohibition of chemical weapons is the duty of all Kurdish institutions, communities, women, youths, thinkers, labourers, politicians, and all individuals.