Kurdish organisations and European civil society groups have condemned Turkey’s use of chemical weapons after the People’s Defence Forces (HPG) released footage it said showed guerrillas suffering the effects of a chemical attack.
The footage, published by ANF on 18 October, is said to have been captured after a Turkish chemical weapons attack that killed 17 guerrillas.
The Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) issued a statement regarding chemical attacks carried out by Turkey in the Kurdistan Region in Iraq, reported Mezopotamya News Agency.
The statement shared some statistics and called for Kurds and their friends to stand against the use of chemical weapons by Turkey:
“Images and evidence on the use of chemical weapons have been shared many times with the public and press,” the KNK said. “Finally, new images showing the use of chemical weapons made it clear that 17 guerrillas were martyred as a result of chemical weapons attacks.”
The statement referred to the latest of many reports accusing Turkish forces of using the prohibited weapons against Kurdish guerrillas in the north of Iraq – reports which have so far been ignored by international bodies. The statement continued:
“The Kurds, the Kurdistani movements and the friends of the Kurds have been trying to make their voices heard in every field for a long time. However, no institution other than some human rights institutions have heard this voice. In particular, the Council of Europe, the United Nations and the OPCW remain silent in the face of attacks. The Turkish state increases its attacks taking courage from this silence.”
Ilham Ehmed, a senior politician from the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), also made a statement on the attacks, calling on the international community to hold Turkey to account.
“The Turkish state has committed a massacre. This massacre must be explained, documented and brought to the courts. No one should be silent on this embarrassing massacre,” said Ehmed.
The Peace Mothers Assembly, a Turkey-based civil society organisation aiming to promote peace between the country’s ethnicities, also published a statement condemning the massacre and demanding action.
Meanwhile, the Kurdish parties and organisations including Democratic Society Congress (DTK) and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) shared a joint statement in Diyarbakır recalling the crucial role Kurdish fighters had played in the battle against the Islamic State and calling on the world to defend them:
“Kurds defended humanity in Rojava and protected humanity. Humanity owes the Kurds, it is necessary to break the silence to pay for it. We must act today to defend humanity. Everybody should take action against those who see the Kurds as an experimental object. Saddam also did it in Halabja. Had there been a reaction that day, Turkey would not have dared to do the same today.”
The reports of chemical attacks also prompted protests throughout Europe, with demonstrations recorded in Hanover, Lavrio, Cenevre, London, Paris, Marseille, Montpellier, Düsseldorf, Munich, Zurich, Bern, Copenhagen and many other cities, ANF reported.
Kurds and their European supporters came together in Geneva wearing white overalls and masks to call for action.
Erdal Atasoy, co-chair of the Geneva Kurdish Community Center, discussed his group’s plan to organise a demonstration in front of United Nations (UN) on Thursday to protest the use of chemical weapons.
Left-wing and Kurdish organisations also gathered in Frankfurt to protest the use of chemical weapons by the Turkish state and called on the international community to take action as soon as possible.
Kurdish and European protesters gathered outside the Representative Office of the European Commission in Marseille, to hang a banner bearing images of the 17 guerrillas who were killed in the attack.
The KNK says it has sent relevant international bodies a large amount of evidence pointing to Turkey’s use of chemical weapons, but has yet to see any action taken.
This month, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) published a report including some possible evidence of Turkish use of prohibited weapons, and called for an independent international investigation.