PEACE in Kurdistan calls on the British government to halt all arms sales to Turkey immediately after a recent report showed that technology developed in the UK has been used in deadly drone strikes.

Kurds have long-warned of Britain’s complicity in deadly drone strikes waged on civilian populations as part of Turkey’s ethnic cleansing campaign.

Now shocking evidence has revealed the extent of Britain’s complicity in Turkey’s dirty war and attempted genocide of the Kurds – including potential war crimes.

Britain has licensed some £1.6 billion of arms sales since 2008, a period which has seen Turkey escalating internal oppression as well as wage wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh in which thousands have died.

Over the same period, the government has approved some 183 unlimited-value open licenses – a secretive system that allows deadly weapons to make their way to repressive regimes with limited scrutiny.

It has been consistently evasive over the licensing of crucial components enabling Turkey to expand its drone capacity, in particular the Hornet bomb-rack system made by the Brighton-based company EDO MBM Technologies.

But recent photographs from the battlefield of Nagorno-Karabakh appear to contradict these claims with images showing Bayraktar TB-2 drones equipped with two fuel pumps supplied by Andair precision aircraft components, and a bomb rack marked Bayraktar TB-2 bearing an Azeri flag made by EDO MBM Technologies.

This implies that the components are in fact being used to enable the firing of missiles from Turkey’s growing unmanned aerial vehicle fleet which is responsible for thousands of civilian deaths and the destruction of schools, hospitals, and other infrastructure.

Turkey is the only country that regularly uses drones in the suppression of its own population with some 400 people killed in the largely-Kurdish southeast since 2016 with air strikes in 11 of the country’s provinces.

Turkey used this technology in the targeted execution of Zehra Berkel, Hebun Mele Xelil and Amina Waysi, three Kurdish women from the Kongreya Star women’s organisation in Kobane in June last year.

This is a war crime under international law and Britain is complicit through knowingly licensing the technology that allowed this to happen.

As an immediate and urgent measure PIK calls on the British government to suspend all arms licenses and weapons sales to Turkey until it ends the occupation of Afrin, withdrawing all its troops and ending its bombing raids.

It must be open and transparent and PIK demands the British government makes public the details of all arms licenses to Turkey, including the secretive unlimited open-value licenses without delay.

War is not the answer to Turkey’s so-called Kurdish question. Jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan has laid out a detailed roadmap to peace and a possible solution to the cycle of never-ending wars in the Middle East.

PIK believes that Britain has a responsibility to use its influence to bring about peace instead of inflaming tensions and perpetuating devastating wars, of which there are no winners.

It must demand a peaceful solution to the so-called Kurdish question and press for negotiations with the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan and bring about an end to Turkey’s war on Kurds.


Notes for Editors

  1. Information regarding the proliferation of Turkish drones can be found in the latest report from the Drone Wars monitoring group here.
  2. Details of the arms licenses granted by the British government are available via the Campaign Against Arms Trade here.
  3. Turkey has an estimated 130 armed drones including at least 92 Bayraktar TB2s and an unknown quantity of unarmed drones.
  4. Photographs of the drones downed in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict which lasted for 6 weeks from September to November 2020 show the British-made components on page 7 of the document here.



Peace in Kurdistan

Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question



Contacts Estella Schmid: 07846 666 804 & Melanie Gingell: 07572 430903