Turkish rights groups are investigating claims by Kurdish activists that Ankara used chemical weapons in last month’s air raids on separatist militants.
Graphic pictures of blackened and dismembered corpses of over 24 members of the Kurdistan’s Worker’s Party (PKK) claim to show evidence of the Turkish government’s chemical warfare against the rebels. While Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan denied the claims as a “slander,” MPs from the legal pro-Kurdish party, the BDP, and the Turkish Human Rights Association are taking them seriously.
Violence between the Kurdish rebels – who have long sought independence – and the Turkish government has increased in recent months, with some of the violence even slipping over into Iraqi territory.
The use of biological or chemical weapons in warfare is a serious crime under international law. And the claims of Turkey’s use of them come after increased security assistance from the U.S. The Obama administration has recently made a deal to send drones to Turkey and responded to Turkish requests for counter-terrorism assistance with just that, more security assistance.
The last concentrated partnership between the US and Turkey against Kurdish rebels resulted in massive human rights abuses. The two states cooperated in major atrocities against southeastern Turkey in the 1990′s, leaving the countryside devastated with tens of thousands killed and millions displaced. What this renewed cooperation will amount to is not yet clear.