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Friday, August 13, 2010

Confirmed: Turkey used chemical weapons against Kurds

German experts have confirmed that photographs shown to them by the Turkish PKK, the Kurdish Workers Party, which has been outlawed as a 'terrorist' organization, show eight people who were murdered by chemical weapons. The pictures were allegedly taken in September 2009. Turkey stands accused of using chemical weapons against the PKK (Hat Tip: Will).
German experts have confirmed the authenticity of photographs that purport to show PKK fighters killed by chemical weapons. The evidence puts increasing pressure on the Turkish government, which has long been suspected of using such weapons against Kurdish rebels. German politicians are demanding an investigation.

It would be difficult to exceed the horror shown in the photos, which feature burned, maimed and scorched body parts. The victims are scarcely even recognizable as human beings. Turkish-Kurdish human rights activists believe the people in the photos are eight members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) underground movement, who are thought to have been killed in September 2009.
I actually looked for pictures of chemical weapons victims to add to this post. I decided against it. Whether or not the pictures I saw were authentic, they were the most horrifying pictures I have ever seen. The only thing that came close was a set of pictures someone sent me ten years ago which were said to be the bodies of the two IDF soldiers who were lynched in Ramallah. Let's go back to Der Spiegel.
In March, the activists gave the photos to a German human rights delegation comprised of Turkey experts, journalists and politicians from the far-left Left Party, as SPIEGEL reported at the end of July. Now Hans Baumann, a German expert on photo forgeries has confirmed the authenticity of the photos, and a forensics report released by the Hamburg University Hospital has backed the initial suspicion, saying that it is highly probable that the eight Kurds died "due to the use of chemical substances."

Did the Turkish army in fact use chemical weapons and, by doing so, violate the Chemical Weapons Convention it had ratified?
I don't know. But I trust that Barack Obama and Ban Ki-Moon will immediately insist on an international investigation that includes one member appointed by Turkey, one member appointed by the Kurds, and two other members whose sympathies lie with one or the other of the affected parties. I trust also that Tom Friedman will write a column in the next week accusing Turkey of operating under the Hama rules that Bashar Assad's daddy Hafez used when he gassed all those people to death in 1982.

Ooops. Sorry. None of that stuff will happen. After all, it's Turkey that's accused this time and not the 'Zionist entity.'

There's more. Der Spiegel also reports that the Berlin daily newspaper Die Tageszeitung has another picture with another six Kurds allegedly murdered with chemical weapons.

Read the whole thing.

This is not the first time Turkey has been accused of using chemical weapons. In 2006, they were also accused of using chemical weapons against the Kurds, but the claims were dismissed because the PKK has been branded a 'terror organization.'
Starting on February 26, 2006, multiple Kurdish news sources in Europe broadcast allegations byKurdish villagers that the Turkish military had used chemical weapons during a military operation against PKK rebels. According to the allegations, the Turkish military began an operation on February 23 between the villages of Bakwan and Guriza in the Dargecit District of Mardin. [2] Violent clashes between Turkish forces and the guerillas began on February 23 and continued until noon the following day. Kurds allege that during these battles, Turkish forces employed chemical weapons, although they have not identified the specific agent said to be used, nor provided evidence of such use. Allegedly seven PKK guerillas were killed in the gas attack. [3] These allegations motivated many Kurdish residents of the Dargecit District to take part in demonstrations condemning the Turkish military operation. [4] After thousands attended the funerals of the seven men, Turkish forces allegedly set up blockades within the Dargecit District and arrested 28 villagers. [5]

Murat Karayilan, chairman of the Democratic Confederation of Kurdistan, was quoted by Firat (a pro-Kurdish European news agency) as saying, “There is some evidence indicating that the [Turkish] government has used chemical weapons against our legitimate defense forces during the fighting that took place in Kerboran [Dargecit District]. We call on human rights organizations and pro-democracy organizations to investigate those reports.” [6] Official Turkish sources have not commented on the incident.

Turkey, as a member of the Chemical Weapons Convention, has sworn not to produce, stockpile, or use chemical weapons. In light of this commitment, the allegation of the PKK regarding the use of chemical weapons is serious. However, its failure to provide any evidence or details regarding the use of such weapons calls into question the validity of such claims. While the group has called for non-governmental organizations to investigate the matter, which is the only verification mechanism possible for such a claim by a non-state entity, the fact that the PKK is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, other states in the region, as well as much of the West, makes such an investigation an unlikely possibility. Turkey’s silence on the allegation, while peculiar, suggests a belief that, with the PKK’s lack of credibility, the issue will blow over sooner if it does not draw attention to it.
So the issue was ignored four and a half years ago.

The JPost's Benjamin Weinthal adds:
MP Andrej Hunko urged the German Foreign Ministry to file a complaint against Turkey with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague.

A forensic report from Hamburg University Hospital confirmed that the eight Kurds had been murdered by “the use of chemical substances.”

Turkish Kurdish human rights members delivered photos in March to a delegation of German politicians, Turkey specialists, and journalists. The bodies in the photos were severely deformed and torn to pieces; the photos formed the basis for the forensic report. Hans Baumann, a German expert on the authenticity of photos, confirmed that photos had not been doctored.

The eight Kurdish PKK members were killed last September. The 31 photos, according to German media, are so disturbing that news organizations have been reluctant to publish them. The murdered PKK rebels – two women and six men – range in age from 19 to 33.
Anyone want to bet that nowhere near as big a deal will be made about this as has been made about the nine 'martyrs' of the Mavi Marmara?


At 3:55 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Turkey which lectures Israel about human rights abuses has committed far worse about against its Kurds and the Greeks of Cyprus.

Of course its not going to be investigated for them - the real question is why Israel's leadership has allowed the country to be maneuvered into a position of having to justify its very right of self defense to a hostile world, with Turkey acting in the role of Israel's prosecutor.

What could go wrong indeed


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