Chemical Weapons: Kurds Demand the OPCW Investigates Turkey

Demonstrators in The Hague

KT News:

Thousands joined a protest in The Hague yesterday, calling on the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), headquartered in the city, to investigate the mounting evidence that Turkey has used chemical weapons against Kurdish guerillas and civilians in South Kurdistan / northern Iraq.

The evidence includes compelling video and photographs from the conflict-zone and the admission last year by no less than the Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, telling the Turkish parliament that the army had used tear gas during a military operation against the PKK. An article of the Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits the use of tear gas as a method of warfare and Akar has therefore admitted to a war crime.

Last month a delegation from International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War visited an area the Turkish army had withdrawn from and found evidence including containers for hydrochloric acid and bleach, which could be used to produce chlorine, a chemical warfare agent, and gas masks designed to protect the users from the effects of chemical weapons. Unfortunately, they were obstructed in their mission by officials of the Kurdistan Regional Government, which some say is supporting the Turkish occupation of parts of the region. They have called for an international fact finding mission – for example by the OPCW or the UN Secretary General – to “once and for all confirm or dispel the allegations of chemical weapons use in the region”.

Dr Şebnem Korur, the respected President of the Turkish Medical Association, has been jailed by the Turkish authorities after she too called for an independent investigation.

The OPCW is backed by 193 member states. The protesters called on the organisation to stop turning a blind eye to all the evidence and to urgently do its job and mount a full investigation.

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