There is mounting evidence of Turkey’s use of chemical weapons in its conflict with Kurdish forces, but international bodies tasked with inspecting such allegations have remained silent, said Gisela Penteker, the Germany Director of the Nobel peace prize winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), in an interview with Medya Haber’s Erem Kansoy.
“I’m very sad and I’m really furious that we have so much evidence on the use of forbidden weapons,” Penteker said. “Turkey is using chemical weapons and nobody cares. We believe the United Nations is obliged to prove this.”
The UN is not a democratic institution anymore, but “a lame duck, because of these veto rights,” she continued.
The IPPNW has conducted its own examinations, and its findings include evidence of what appears to be chlorine, according to the director, which can be easily produced from over-the-counter items.
Chlorine was among the five chemicals Murat Karayılan, commander of the People’s Defence Forces (HPG), said his organisation found evidence of. However, Penteker told Kansoy that the IPPNW has found evidence of chlorine alone in their efforts led by biological weapons inspector Dr Jan Van Aken.
“Of course European institutions must look into this,” she said. “At IPPNW we will force this and make appeals, but we will have to see what happens.”
“It’s a real crime that Europe is silent, that the world is silent. It is very obvious, but other political interests are so strong,” the director lamented. “They must examine it, they must tell the truth, and they must start to support the Kurdish people.”
IPPNW published its preliminary findings from a visit to Iraq in a report and urged international bodies including the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to launch further investigations. Regional authorities, namely the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) which has close ties with the Turkish government, did not allow the IPPNW to deepen its own research.
Jin News, a women-focused news website run by Kurdish women, posed questions to the OPCW on how any investigation could advance if relevant states failed to file appeals. The organisation responded by saying it had been “monitoring” allegations but could not launch an investigation without an appeal from a state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
Earlier in the week, Kurdish institutions in Turkey and Europe organised several protests against the alleged chemical use, in the wake of the death of 17 Kurdish guerrilla fighters.