A civilian hospital in Iraq, reportedly targeted by Turkish airstrikes, has become the subject of a formal complaint to the UN Human Rights Council by a group of four Yazidis, as reported by the Guardian on Monday.
The attack, which occurred on 17 August 2021, resulted in the death of eight people and left over 20 injured.
The Sikeniye medical clinic in Sinjar (Şengal) was destroyed in the attack, marking the first case relating to Turkish airstrikes against the Yazidi people. The four claimants, survivors of or witnesses to the airstrikes, argue that these actions violated their right to life under international law, as protected by article 6 of the international covenant on civil and political rights.
The claimants further allege that Turkey neglected to investigate the civilian casualties resulting from the airstrikes and failed to provide victims with effective remedies. This, they argue, constitutes a violation of their right to a prompt, independent and effective investigation under the same covenant.
Turkey justified the airstrikes as an attempt to control the armed wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS), a Yazidi self-defence force. However, the YBS refutes Turkish claims of its association with the PKK.
The claimants assert that the hospital, located near a YBS checkpoint, was not directly protected by armed units and was situated in a civilian area. They maintain that all eight casualties were hospital staff members.
The complaint, submitted late last week, took two years to prepare. It alleges that since 2017, approximately 80 Yazidis have been victims of “collateral damage” from Turkish airstrikes against PKK targets in Iraq.
The Accountability Unit, a human rights NGO based in the UK, and Women for Justice, a Yazidi NGO based in Germany, have brought the claim on behalf of the four Yazidis. The latter is supported by UK human rights lawyers.
Aarif Abraham, the director of the Accountability Unit, stated, “This is a critically important and symbolic case involving clearcut violations of the fundamental rights of Yazidi citizens by the Turkish state.”
Dr Leyla Ferman, the chief executive of Women for Justice, remarked that the case presents an opportunity to demonstrate that the security of the Yazidis is a concern of the UN.