Did Turkey use chemical weapons against Kurds?


22 Oct Kurdistan Tribune : – Voice of Russia carries an interview with Raci Bilici, head of the Diyarbakir branch of the Human Rights Association, following the discovery of 300 mass graves in eastern Turkey, believed to be of Kurds who may have been victims of chemical attacks during the prolonged struggle between the Turkish army and the Kurdish PKK. According to Raci Bilici, human rights activists will insist on sending international experts to the site for a proper investigation:

“We did a colossal job to discover mass graves in Turkey’s Kurd-populated areas. We found around 300 mass graves containing the remains of thousands of people. Our work is continuing and the number of discovered graves is increasing. This is our part of an investigation. Now experts such as forensics and criminologists should be involved. It’s a different story, a different kind of job requiring qualified professionals and what is important, highly qualified ones. As far as our Association is concerned, we’re ready to contribute in every possible way. We’ve reached a point, when the problem should be paid special attention. That’s why we’re planning to set up a foundation whose main activity will be identifying people whose remains we find in the graves.

“We’ve opened around 20 graves so far. It was not done properly enough as, for the most part, it was local people’s initiative and efforts as they hoped to find bodies of missing relatives. In a few cases building equipment was deployed. However, we can’t keep on working this way.

“The information that was obtained during the excavations could prove helpful in the identification of the dead. However, all of them were affected by the bad weather as well as by the improper approach to the exhumation. Therefore, we have suspended this work. Post-mortem examinations will continue in full compliance with international rules and under the control of the foundation we are going to set up.

“This foundation is expected to reveal how all these people in the graves died. Earlier several statements were made to the effect that all of them had fallen victim to the use of chemical weapons. At the moment one can neither confirm nor disprove these statements. However, there is reason to believe that everything will become clear soon. Then the legal aspect will emerge. Therefore, during the post-mortem examination the presence of representatives of international agencies is a must and we will insist on that.

“We believe that the Turkish government will demonstrate interest in joint work in this field. All the victims in these graves must be identified, and all those who are responsible for these crimes convicted”.