August 17, 2010 | Quote
Turks Hit PKK with Chemical Weapons
BERLIN – German politicians called on Thursday for an international investigation into the reported use of chemical weapons by the Turkish military. The weapons were used against members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), according to the online edition of the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel.
“Turkey needs to urgently look into these accusations,” said Ruprecht Polenz, chairman of the Foreign Affairs committee in the Bundestag and a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party.
Polenz recommended an international investigation to examine the deaths of eight Kurdish activists from the PKK. Claudia Roth, co-chair of the German Green party, echoed Polenz’s criticisms, seconding his call for an investigation.
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.
The allegation of employing chemical weapons against the Kurdish minority group could further taint Turkey’s battered human rights record.
Turkey’s nearly 12 million Kurds are seeking increased rights and autonomy. Turkey’s armed forces have, according to human rights groups, brutally suppressed the Kurdish ethnic minority’s attempts to secure more independence in the southeast. In July, a series of violent clashes between the Turkish military and Kurdish rebels broke out. The PKK had previously attacked a Turkish military post, killing eight Turkish soldiers, prompting a wave of military strikes resulting in the deaths of 12 Kurds.
Turkey is a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The alleged use of chemical weapons would constitute a violation of the anti-chemical weapons treaty.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry denied engaging in chemical and biological warfare, according to a report in the daily Tageszeitung. The paper noted that German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle had been informed of the chemical weapons allegations before his trip to Turkey in late July, but has declined to take diplomatic action.