Allegations that the Turkish military used chemical weapons against militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) during its operations in northern Iraq must be investigated by an independent international body, Turkish Minute reported, citing the jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş’s tweets.
On Tuesday the pro-Kurdish Fırat News Agency (ANF) published a video that has been circulating on social media that showed two PKK members apparently under the influence of a chemical agent.
“My lawyers have informed me that footage is circulating on social media showing the use of chemical weapons against PKK members. In order to clarify the situation, an independent, international delegation should travel to the region and conduct an investigation. The conditions for this must be created,” reads the tweet posted on Demirtaş’s handle.
1- Sosyal medyada PKK’lilere karşı kimyasal silah kullanıldığına dair görüntüler olduğunu avukatlarım aktardılar.
Durumun tespiti için bağımsız, uluslararası bir heyetin bölgeye giderek inceleme yapması gerekir. Bunun koşulları sağlanmalıdır.
— Selahattin Demirtaş (@hdpdemirtas) October 19, 2022
“Parliament and the opposition cannot remain silent about these images. To remain silent is to condone the crime,” Demirtaş added.
The Kurdish leader was arrested in November 2016 and has been behind bars since then on trumped-up charges.
The Turkish Defense Ministry has responded to the allegations, saying, “The allegations about the use of chemical weapons by the Turkish Armed Forces are completely unfounded and untrue.”
“No one should forget for even a moment that the use of chemical weapons is a crime against humanity and that there is no statute of limitations for crimes against humanity. Those who commit such crimes will be held accountable before an independent judiciary,” Demirtaş said.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) also issued a written statement on the alleged use of chemical weapons in Turkey’s cross-border operations on the territory of the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq since 2021.
“We emphasize that the Kurdistan Regional Government should seriously investigate the allegations of the use of chemical [agents] on its territory. Those who used, supplied and transported the chemicals should be immediately investigated,” the HDP said.
HDP called on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations to work on the matter.
During a cross-border military operation against Kurdish militants in Syria in 2019, Kurdish officials accused Turkey of using “unconventional weapons” in the conflict and called for international inspectors to examine the injured.
Turkey has repeatedly denied such allegations, saying that no chemical weapons exist in the inventory of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).