Kurdish organisations gathered on Wednesday to condemn Turkey’s reported use of chemical weapons and other banned munitions in its military operations, with Democratic Society Congress (DTK) co-chair Berdan Öztürk likening the situation to the massacres committed by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
“Saddam did this in Halabja. If there were enough protests then, Turkey would not dare today,” Mezopotamya Agency cited Öztürk as saying, calling on the international community to take action against Ankara’s policies.
Öztürk spoke at a press conference held by DTK, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Democratic Regions Party (DBP), Kurdistan Communist Party (KKP), and Free Women’s Movement (TJA), where the organisations condemned what they called Turkey’s crimes against humanity.
Turkey has been accused of using chemical weapons in its fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), particularly in cross-border operations in Iraqi Kurdistan territory.
“There have been many calls on the matter, but the UN has chosen to remain silent … This silence by human rights advocates emboldens Turkey,” Öztürk continued.
The Kurdish politician also called on the Iraqi government to take action against Turkey’s invasion of its territory, and on the people of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) to speak up against what he called the Turkish government’s war crimes. According to Öztürk, the chemicals were supplied by UN member states.
“We condemn this unlawful war,” KKP Chairman Sinan Çiftyürek said. “Saddam used these weapons too, but he could not stop the struggle for freedom.”
“Use of chemical weapons has been documented in videos,” HDP MP Remziye Tosun said.
“There have been some 3,000 instances of chemical use in the last six months, according to reports,” she continued. “This aims to enact genocide against Kurds.”
Tosun called on the international community to speak up. “Human morality and conscience must not remain silent against this crime. This is a shame for the global community. If these weapons are used against Kurds today, they will be used against other peoples tomorrow.”
“Turkey’s use of chemical weapons goes back a long time,” DBP Co-chair Saliha Aydeniz said. “The chemical attacks in Southern Kurdistan are a result of a century of war. Turkey has tried chemical attacks dozens of times to snuff out freedom for Kurds.”
Aydeniz mentioned a report issued by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) that noted circumstantial evidence of chemical use and called for urgent investigation by independent bodies into the allegations.
“Hindrance, silence and disregard for all the reports on chemical weapon use and all initiatives by countless committees paint a clear picture on what these weapons were used for,” Aydeniz said.
The co-chair also condemned Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) not allowing various committees to investigate claims in situ and confiscating international shipments of gas masks against chemicals. “Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Barzani family have opened up Southern Kurdistan territory to Turkey’s invasion and paved the way for dozens of military bases. They are party to this crime,” she said.
Aydeniz condemned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his plans to visit Diyarbakır (Amed), the largest Kurdish-majority province in Turkey, next week. “We as the Kurdish people do not want Erdoğan visiting Kurdistan or Amed,” she said. “Wars are won not by physical force, technology or banned munitions. Wars are won by those who fight with dignity.”
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the European Union should take action, she added.