The international community continues to remain silent towards the Turkish state, which has been using chemical weapons, tactical nuclear bombs and banned gases during its ongoing invasion attacks against Zap, Avaşîn and Metina regions in southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq) since April 14, 2022. While OPCW’s indifference grabs attention, the diplomatic efforts of the Kurds and their friends in response have gained momentum.
– af Fey-Kurd
Xwaşnav Ata lost two nieces in the fight against the Turkish army. One of them died from the use of chemical weapons. In front of the OPCW HQ in The Hague, the Kurdish activist has launched a ‘Justice Vigil’ against the inaction of the organization. The fact that the Organisation for the Prohibition of the Use of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has no interest in reports on Turkish use of chemical weapons in Kurdistan has been known for some time. However, it is also no secret that this is a violation of its obligations. To bring this to public attention, Xwaşnav Ata has launched a “Justice Vigil” in front of the OPCW headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands.
Every day between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., the Kurdish activist from Germany will appear in front of the building to remind those responsible of the reasons for the creation of the OPCW and to demand their action against Turkey’s use of toxic weapons in Kurdistan. “The Turkish state killed my niece with chemicals. Why won’t you investigate?” is written on a purple cardboard sign held by Xwaşnav Ata. It refers to the guerrilla fighter Binevs Agal (Gülperin Ata), who died at the end of May while resisting the Turkish invasion at Kuro Jahro in the Zap region of southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq).
The People’s Defense Forces (HPG) had said about the circumstances of the death that the Turkish army had fired chemical warfare agents over several days against guerrilla positions where Binevş Agal was in action. For months, the HPG has been reporting daily documented chemical weapons attacks by the military of the Turkish state. But the OPCW, of which the Turkish state has been a member since 1997, prefers to remain silent.
Despite all the reports by the HPG on the use of chemical weapons, calls by Kurdish institutions, research results by relevant organisations and individuals, as well as mass protests by the Kurdish diaspora community, the OPCW is not willing to become active regarding the accusations against Ankara. Even attempts by Kurdish delegations to hold talks with the organisation’s officials have been repeatedly refused. And even the receipt of a dossier with concrete documents and evidence of the use of chemical weapons was out of the question for the OPCW. Turkey can break the international law of war with impunity. “I do not and will not accept this,” says Xwaşnav Ata.
He states it cannot be that “the children of the Kurdish people” are murdered by brutal chemical weapons attacks by the Turkish state, and the OPCW stands by and watches. “The public should know that the only goal of our society is to experience justice. We want the OPCW to investigate Turkey’s chemical weapons use and punish it accordingly. As long as this demand remains unfulfilled, I will not end my protest.”
Another of Ata’s nieces was martiried in Dersim last December 2021. — Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) member Adem Uzun spoke to the ANF about the silence of the OPCW, the evidence of Turkish use of chemical weapons on the battle front in South Kurdistan and the official reports presented in this regard. Uzun noted that the OPCW and other institutes that monitor the use of banned weapons have not responded to the reports prepared by regional and international organizations, especially by the Committee Against the Use of Chemical Weapons in South Kurdistan. He pointed out that not only the Kurdish freedom guerrillas, but also the civilian population are under attack by chemical agents.
USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS INCREASED THIS YEAR
The Kurdish politician underlined that unlike the previous year, the Turkish state dramatically increased its chemical attacks in Kurdistan in 2022. “The international press covered the use of chemical weapons many times, but unfortunately, no results could be obtained because the relevant institutions did not conduct any research.”
Uzun remarked that the families of the guerrillas who were killed by chemical weapons sent dozens of letters to the authorized institutions, while international Kurdish institutions submitted reports to the relevant authorities, various states, and institutes. Providing information on the diplomatic activities, he said, “So far, some states have responded to us. For example, German authorities stated that ‘we are aware of the chemical attack allegations, but the OPCW has not obtained any evidence’. Britain similarly replied that ‘we are aware of what is going on, but the OPCW will deal with it once they have evidence’.”
OPCW SHOULD SEND A DELEGATION TO THE REGION
Uzun stressed that the OPCW did not accept the evidence presented by some independent institutions and individuals. “They did not accept the related reports and evidence, nor the data and pieces brought from the ground. Moreover, they still do not send commissions and working groups to the region to conduct investigations,” he said. According to OPCW, research by their side requires a request at state level, said the Kurdish politician and continued, “Despite very serious allegations, video footage, international protests and the repeated calls by the international public, the OPCW still does not step into action. This is a double standard. This is a non-recognition of its own laws and principles, as well as an attempt to manipulate international public opinion.”
OPCW AND MEMBER STATES BREAK THEIR OWN RULES
Noting that the OPCW and its 193 member countries work together, Uzun continued, “Member states have representatives in the OPCW and the OPCW has representatives in these states. These states have commissions that deal with banned weapons, yet the OPCW and member states do not take any action. This means that these states and the OPCW do not recognize their own rules.” Reports on the matter reveal how negatively the local people living in the areas targeted by chemical weapons are affected, said the KNK member, adding, “Turkey is a NATO member and uses tactical nuclear weapons which are strictly prohibited. Maybe they don’t use bombs as destructive as those used in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, but those used in Kurdistan are the same type of weapon. Even though their explosive yield is low, they cause permanent damage to nature, environment, and people in Kurdistan.”
NATO PROTECTS ITS CRIMINAL MEMBER
Kurdish politician Uzun remarked that despite all the evidence, there is still no reaction from any NATO country concerning the Turkish state’s use of chemical weapons. “Therefore, we have to say this is a strategy of NATO which protects its members from the war crimes they commit by using chemical weapons and violating international laws.” Uzun also addressed the dirty negotiations within NATO in return for Turkey approving the membership of Sweden and Finland, “NATO has made a dirty deal with Erdogan over the Kurds, so that he can carry out an ethnic cleansing and genocide against them. In fact, NATO not only gives the green light to the use of chemical weapons, but also allows Erdogan to violate international law, leading to further ethnic cleansing and turmoil in the region.” New report about Turkish use of chemical weapons: