Today an open letter signed by 65 prominent women and organisations from all around the world was sent to Fernando Arias, Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
This open letter addresses serious allegations of the use of prohibited chemical weapons by Turkey against Kurdish guerrilla fighters and the civilian population in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Prominent women and organisations, including Silvia Federici, Nancy Fraser, Sylvia Marcos and RAWA, call the OPCW to investigate the allegations of Turkey’s use of chemical weapons.
We ask you to support this call by publicizing this open letter, by contacting the OPCW and your political representatives.
Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.
Kurdish Women’s Relations Office (REPAK)
Mr. Fernando Arias
Johan de Wittlaan 32
2517 JR The Hague
October 22, 2021
Subject: Use of Chemical Weapons by Turkey
Dear Mr. Director-General Fernando Arias,
We are addressing you today as women from different countries regarding a matter of grave concern. Once again, the Turkish army is facing accusations of having used internationally prohibited weapons.
Since April 23, 2021, the Turkish state has been conducting a military offensive in North Iraq against the Kurdish guerrilla and the civilian population. Beyond the fact that this military operation in one of its neighboring country is illegal under international law, Turkey is also committing war crimes by using internationally banned weapons.
According to information provided by the press office of the People’s Defense Units (HPG), the Turkish army has carried out a total of 138 attacks with chemical weapons in the last 5 months, as a result of which several fighters have lost their lives. On September 3 alone, three fighters were killed in Gire Sor in the region Avashin. Not only are guerrilla fighters the target of these atrocities. The village of Hirore was attacked with chemical weapons on September 4 and one family suffered injuries from the attack. The NGO ‘Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq’ has confirmed that these injuries were caused by the use of chemical weapons.
This is not the first time: Already in 2010, 2013 and especially due to a bombing in the North Syrian town of Serekaniye (Arabic: Ras al-Ayn) in October 2019, Turkey has been accused of the use of chemical weapons against civilians. Incriminating footage and expert opinions in the international media supported this accusation at the time. On October 17, 2019, Turkey used white phosphorus during its airstrikes on the town of Serekaniye, and dozens of people including children and women were seriously injured. At that time, too, international organizations and the state community remained silent towards Turkey’s crime.
History is full of state atrocities against individuals or ethnic groups because they are exposed to states without protection. To prevent this, international laws and mechanisms such as your organization have been established as an achievement of humanity. But we see that this state of affairs continues because these very laws and mechanisms do not consistently fulfill their obligations.
We are sorry to see that neither national nor international law applies when it comes to the Kurds. Turkey, as a ratifying state of the OPCW, has been carrying out atrocities for years before the eyes of the international public and your organization without being held accountable.
The poison gas attack by Saddam Hussein against the Kurdish people in North Iraq in 1988 could have been prevented if his activities had been stopped beforehand. For the more than 5000 victims of the poison gas attack and their relatives in the city of Halabja, it was nothing but a mockery that 15 years later they were used as a pretext for attacking Iraq and for causing even more suffering.
We do not want to aid and abet this crime through inaction. We expect you, as the Director-General of an international organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons, to fulfill your responsibility, to investigate these serious allegations, to take clarifying action and to hold Turkey accountable for its crimes.
- Silvia Federici, Professor Emerita of Political Philosophy and International Studies, Hofstra University – USA
- Nancy Fraser, Professor of Philosophy and Politics – USA
- Gloria Steinem, Writer and feminist organizer, Co-founder of Ms. Magazine and the Women’s Media Center – USA
- Debra Winger, Actress – USA
- Charlotte Bunch, Founding Director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership and Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University.
- Marina Sitrin, Associate Professor of Sociology, State University of New York (SUNY) Binghamton; JD in International Women’s Human Rights, City University of New York Law School.
- Joy James, Ebenezer Fitch Professor of the Humanities, Williams College.
- Joya Misra, Professor of Sociology & Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst Director, Institute for Social Science Research, and Chair, Sex & Gender Section of the American Sociological Association
- Debbie Bookchin, Journalist and author – USA
- Meredith Tax, Writer – USA
- Miriam Miranda, OFRANEH (Organización Fraternal Negra de Honduras), Coordinator – Honduras
- Claudia Korol, Feministas del ABYA YALA – Argentina
- Margara Millan, Academic – Mexico
- Sylvia Marcos, Writer and academic- Mexico
- Cheryl Hayles, President of International Alliance of Women (IAW) – Canada
- Kurdish Women’s Relations Office (REPAK) – Kurdistan Region of Iraq
- Democratic Plurinational Women’s Platform – Iran
- Bese Shamari, Board member of Democratic Platform of Iran – Iran
- Women’s Democratic Front – Pakistan
- Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) – Afghanistan
- Selay Ghaffar, Spokeswoman of Solidarity Party of Afghanistan (Hambastagi) – Afghanistan
- Belqis Roshen, Member of National Assembly – Afghanistan
- Gita Sahgal, Writer and film producer, co-founder of Southall Black Sisters and Women Against Fundamentalism, former head of Amnesty International’s Gender Unit – India
- Helda Khasmy, Chairwoman of SERUNI – Indonesia
- Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights – Egypt
- Dr. Angela Al-Maamari, President of Center of Strategic Studies to Support Women and Children – Yemen
- Fathia Hezem, Tunisian Association of Democratic Women – Tunisia
- Bushra Al-Tai, Seba Center for Studies and Human Development – Iraq
- Shereen Karim Murad, Democratic People’s Front Women’s Committee President – Iraq
- Dr. Maha Al-Sakban, Academic – Iraq
- Insaf Abdullah, Women’s rights activist – Sudan
- Dr. Heba Haddadini, Feminist activist – Jordan
- Kanir Abdullah Hama Aziz, Writer, Sulaymaniyah Governorate – Kurdistan Region of Iraq
- Ramzieh Muhammed, Kongra Star spokeswoman – Rojava
- Eman Fetaih, President of Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace – Lebanon
- Rima Barakat, Co-Chair of Justice Council – North East Syria
- Mona Yaya, Sahrawi Community of Human Rights Defenders – West Sahara
- Dr. Sophia Zaza, President of Health and Shield Association – Lebanon
- Rahila Gupta, Southall Black Sisters, Journalist – UK
- World Women’s March – Basque Country
- Jule Goikoetxea Mentxaka, Academic – Basque Country
- Oihana Etxebarrieta, Basque parliamentarian and secretariat of Feminisms of EH Bildu – Basque Country
- Eider Azkunaga Hernández, International Department Euskal Sindikatua – Basque Country
- Women Defend Rojava Madrid – Spain
- Rojava Azadi Madrid – Spain
- Commons Foundation (Fundación de los Comunes) – Spain
- Ann-Margarethe Liv, Founder of Solidaritet med Kurdistan – Sweden
- Lorena Delgado Waras, MP – Sweden
- Amineh Kakabaveh, MP – Sweden
- Parvin Ardalan, Writer, journalist and women’s rights activist – Sweden
- Seher Aydar, MP – Norway
- Sofie Marhaug, MP – Norway
- Hege Bae Nyholt, MP – Norway
- Anina Jendreyko, Artist – Switzerland
- Maja Hess, Doctor – Switzerland
- Mitra Darvishian, Writer and women’s rights activist – Germany
- Women Defend Rojava – Germany
- Cansu Özdemir, MP – Germany
- Şeyda Kurt, Journalist and writer – Germany
- Elif Küçük, Visual artist – Germany
- Antonella Valenti, Calabria University Professor – Italy
- Italian Coordination in Support of Afghan Women (CISDA) – Italy
- Dr. Palmira Tavolaro, Academic – Italy
- Donata Chirico, Calabria University – Italy
- Maria Laura Corradi, Researcher – Italy
Download the letter as a pdf here: https://www.peaceinkurdistancampaign.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/OpenLetterOPCW.pdfOpenLetterOPCW