PRESS RELEASE

New Coalition Against Chemical Weapons in Kurdistan launches demand for investigation into Turkey’s alleged use of chemical weapons against the Kurds 

A new campaign has been launched to demand action on the alleged use of chemical weapons by Turkey against the Kurds is its latest military operation into Northern Iraq (South Kurdistan). So far, no investigation has been undertaken into the allegations that chemical weapons have been used.

The Coalition Against Chemical Weapons in Kurdistan has been founded to ensure that action is taken to verify these serious allegations of what would be a war crime.

A launch statement setting out the demands and plans of the campaign has gathered an impressive list of initial signatories that includes prominent lawyers, writers, trade unionists, rights activists, academics and community workers. See below and attached.

While the Turkish military have a reputation for brutality in its conduct of operations against the Kurds, disturbing reports emerged of the use of chemical weapons in its latest operation which began on 23 April. Operation Claw Lightning has seen the Turkish military wage a ground invasion and bombing of the mountainous Duhok province, including civilian areas, during the course of which chemical substances such as white phosphorous were allegedly used.

This alleged war crime demands independent investigation. To date, no action has been taken by the international authorities responsible for verifying such incidents.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the official implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention, has not conducted any investigations into the alleged use of chemical weapons. As a result, there exists no independent corroboration of Turkey’s alleged violation of the prohibition of the use of chemical weapons.

The Coalition Against Chemical Weapons in Kurdistan was established to make sure that action is taken. As can be seen from the initial signatories to the founding statement, the campaign is a broad coalition of experts and activists who are deeply concerned about the use of chemical weapons and the fact that no action has so far been taken to verify exactly what may have occurred.

The campaign is planning to organise a high-level international delegation composed of medical and other experts to visit the region to gather the necessary evidence, meet with the people in the region who were victims of the attacks and compile a report of their findings of the possible use of chemical weapons to present before the public and the UN in Geneva.

Only by gathering samples for analysis in supervised laboratory conditions can the allegations be substantiated and provide the proof whether chemical weapons have indeed been used by the Turkish military.

More independent voices need to speak out and build pressure on the international community to take action to curb Turkey’s alleged violations. If Turkey is permitted to get away with such violations it will set a precedent that will allow other states to carry out similar violations in future. The world will become a much less safe place and the legal safeguards will be eroded.

The campaign reminds the international community that using chemical weapons is a war crime. As a result, the allegations need to be treated with the utmost seriousness and cannot simply be swept under the carpet.

For more information:

Contact: Stephen Smellie – 07740 096864 Steve Sweeney – 07718 210133 Connor Hayes – 07521230322

Estella Schmid – 07846 666804

Peace in Kurdistan 

Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question

Email: [email protected]

https://www.peaceinkurdistancampaign.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peaceinkurdistan1/

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

PRESS STATEMENT: LAUNCH OF THE COALITION AGAINST CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN KURDISTAN 

A new initiative has been launched today to stop Turkey’s illegal war in Iraqi Kurdistan and hold it to account for its alleged use of chemical weapons.

The Coalition Against Chemical Weapons in Kurdistan is backed by the British-based organisations Peace in Kurdistan, the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities and the Defend Kurdistan Initiative UK.

It is making preparations to send a delegation to Kurdistan where it plans to hold high-level meetings with officials from the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the British consulate.

A team of journalists, politicians and scientists aims to visit the areas where the alleged chemical attacks have taken place and meet with those affected. It will return with a dossier which the group will present to the United Nations in Geneva.

The Coalition Against Chemical Weapons in Kurdistan launched with a statement calling for world bodies to take action against Turkish war crimes and for the UN and Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to investigate.

The group accused Britain of complicity in the chemical attacks, claiming the the government has issued more then 70 export licences for weapons that can contain white phosphorus.

“The British government cannot remain silent as Turkey, a Nato member state, continues to rain down bombs and chemical weapons on the Kurdish people. It must immediately stop all arms sales to Turkey, in particular those that can be used in chemical attacks.

It is calling for organisations and individuals to sign its launch statement:

Turkey’s Operation Claw Lightning launched on April 23 with a ground invasion and bombing of the mountainous Duhok province in Iraqi Kurdistan.

It’s unseen war against the Kurdish people has continued for more than six-months to a blanket silence from the international community.

But it is accused of carrying out a litany of war crimes including air strikes on a UN-administered refugee camp, the bombing of a hospital killing eight people, including four health workers and the assassination of Yazidi commander Said Hassan in an air strike.

Turkey is a NATO ally and United Nations member state. As a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention is has declared that it does not hold a chemical stockpile.

However it is accused of using chemical weapons in its bombing of Kurdistan.

The independent Christian Peacemakers Team, which monitors the situation on the ground, believes that Turkey used white phosphorus during the artillery shelling of agricultural workers in September.

And video footage appeared to show a chemical attack on tunnels used by guerrilla fighters in May leading to calls for the establishment of commission of inquiry in the Turkish parliament

Chemical warfare is a war crime.

But to verify the use of such weapons requires the institutions responsible for investigating such attacks, including the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, to fulfil their role.

The lessons of history are clear. The world looked the other way as Saddam Hussein launched a genocide of the Kurds in the 1980s, with more than 180,000 people massacred.

In 1988 more than 5,000 men, women and children were killed in a gas attack in Halabja. We must not allow this to happen again.

Silence is complicity and a failure to act emboldens the modern day Saddam Hussein, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who continues to act with impunity.

We demand that Turkey is held to account and call on the world’s media and international community to break their silence on the genocidal attacks on the Kurdish people.

The OPCW must send a team to the region immediately to investigate, and the UN and Nato must bring Turkey to heel. Act now, or you will have the blood of the Kurdish people on your hands.

Signatories:

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, Green Party Member of the House of Lords

Chris Stephens MP, Glasgow South West

Bill Ramsay, Ex-President Educational Institute of Scotland and Convenor of Scottish National Party CND (Campaign Against Nuclear Disarmament)

Lord Hylton, House of Lords

Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Crymru, Wales

Margaret Owen. O.B.E. barrister, President Widows for Peace through Democracy (WPD)

Lindsey German, Convenor Stop the War Coalition

Julie Ward, former MEP

Maxine Peake, actress

Mary Davis FRSA, Visiting Professor of Labour History at Royal Holloway University of London

Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, General Federation of Trade Unions

Andrew Feinstein , Executive Director, Shadow World Investigations

Dimitri Roussopoulos, writer, editor, publisher, political activist, Canada

Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation

Tom Unterrainer, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation

Shavanah Taj, General Secretary Wales TUC

Dr. Thomas Jeffrey Miley, University of Cambridge

James Kelman, author, Scotland

Nick Hildyard, policy analyst

Ramsey Kanaan, publisher, PM Press

Tony Shephard, musician and graphic designer

Geoff Shears, Vice-Chair of the Centre for Labour and Social Studies(CLASS)

Bert Schouwenburg, International Trade Union Advisor

Rahila Gupta, writer

David Morgan, journalist

Jonathan Bloch, writer

Stephen Smellie, Deputy Convenor UNISON Scotland and NEC member

Dr Goran Abdullah, Edinburgh

Saleh Mamon, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)

Professor Felix Padel, research associate at Center for World Environmental History, University of Sussex

Professor Kariane Westrheim, Chair of EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC)

Professor Michael Gunter, General Secretary of EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC)

Dr Stephen Hunt, writer

Dr Sarah Glynn, Strasbourg, France

John Hunt, journalist

Dr Federico Venturini, University of Udine, Italy

Ulisse Pizzi, geologist, UK engineering consultancy

Professor Bill Bowring, School of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London

Mike Mansfield QC, barrister

John Hendy QC, barrister

Paul Scholey, Morrish Solicitors

Dr Phil Frampton, author

Andy Walsh, Chair, Greater Manchester Law Centre

Greta Sykes, writer and artist

Aonghas MacNeacail, Scottish Gaelic poet

Dr Phil Frampton, author

Dr Anni Pues, international human rights lawyer

Dr Fiona Woods, Lecturer, Technological University Shannon, Ireland

Professor Barry Gills, Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science

Penelope Dimond, writer and actor

Sarah Parker, Anti-Capitalist Resistance

Maggie Cook, UNISON NEC member

Andreas Gavrielidis, Greek-Kurdish Solidarity

Arthur West, Secretary, Kilmarnock and Loudon Trades Union Council, Scotland

Chiara Aquino, PhD Candidate, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Alex Wilson, PhD student at York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Kazhal Hamarashid, Board member of the Toronto Kurdish Community Centre, Canada

Jane Byrne, teacher

Chris Scurfield, political activist

Oskar Spong, Operator

Rezgar Bahary, journalist

Balazs Kovacs, consultant

Niaz Hamdi, KHRO (Kurdistan Human Rights Observer)

Kirmanj Gundi, KHRO (Kurdistan Human Rights Observer

Niyazi Hamid Braim, KHRO (Kurdistan Human Rights Observer)

Ismet Agirman, Kurdish activist

Mustafa Gorer, Kurdish activist

To add your name and profession/organisation to the list of signatories, please email:

Peace in Kurdistan: [email protected]

Contact: Stephen Smellie – 07740 096864 Steve Sweeney – 07718 210133 Connor Hayes – 07521230322

Estella Schmid – 07846 666804

Peace in Kurdistan 

Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question

Email: [email protected]

https://www.peaceinkurdistancampaign.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peaceinkurdistan1/

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