Open letter calls for investigation into alleged use of chemical weapons by Turkey

An open letter signed by 131 figures from many countries calls on the OPCW, the Turkish government, the Kurdistan Regional Government and concerned governments to launch an investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons by Turkey.

News Center - An open letter signed by 131 has been issued on the occasion of November 30, the Day of Remembrance of all Victims of Chemical Warfare.

“We write with deep concern about disturbing allegations of the use of prohibited weapons by the Turkish military in its ongoing military operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Moreover, we are writing at a time in which the Turkish state is once again targeting civilians inside Syria and mobilizing for another possible ground invasion,” the letter said.

Drawing attention to the video footage released by local media on October 18, the letter said, “The video footage shows the impacts of alleged chemical weapons exposure on two PKK guerrillas. Both were among 17 of the group’s fighters who lost their lives as a result of alleged chemical attacks in recent months. The footage followed a report published by the NGO International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) last month that examined other allegations of Turkish chemical weapons use and called for an international investigation based on its findings.

“In 2021, human rights monitors and local media reported at least once instance of civilian harm potentially caused by alleged Turkish chemical weapons use. The authors of the IPPNW report attempted to meet with the impacted civilians, but were blocked from doing so by the Kurdistan Regional Government.”

‘Turkey is supported by its NATO allies despite consistent evidence of serious human rights abuses’

Noting that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) can only investigate allegations of chemical weapons use when a request is made by a state party, the letter said:

“However, it is our view that these existing mechanisms do not reflect the realities of warfare today. Peoples without states and non-state political and military actors are deeply involved in modern conflicts. So are autocratic regimes that stifle the voices of those who wish to hold their governments to account for their behavior in war.

Both of these conditions are relevant here. The Kurdish people do not have a government that can speak up for them. They live under repressive regimes with powerful allies in the West—Turkey, for example, is supported by its NATO allies despite consistent evidence of serious human rights abuses.

This means that, while Kurds are disproportionately more likely to be subjected to war crimes and violations of international law as a result of their status as an oppressed minority, they are also disproportionately less likely to have access to justice mechanisms to hold perpetrators accountable.”

Demanding the human rights law and the laws of war must be implemented as universally as possible, free from political considerations, in order to be effective, the letter emphasized that there should be as many avenues as possible for credible allegations of human rights violations and violations of the laws of war to be investigated by impartial international bodies—particularly serious violations like the use of prohibited weapons.

The letter also included the following recommendations:

“To the OPCW:

●        Amend investigation procedures to allow greater access to justice and accountability for alleged chemical weapons use.

●        Investigate allegations that Turkey may have used chemical weapons in Iraqi Kurdistan.

To the government of Turkey:

●        End all cross-border military activity in Iraq and Syria immediately.

●        Cooperate fully with local and international investigations of alleged chemical weapons use and other alleged war crimes and human rights abuses and hold perpetrators accountable if violations are found.

●        Return to peace negotiations with the PKK to resolve the Kurdish issue by political means.

To the Kurdistan Regional Government:

•         Allow international investigators full access to impacted regions and communities to determine if Turkey has used chemical weapons in its military operations.

To concerned governments:

●        Request an investigation of alleged Turkish chemical weapons use via existing OPCW mechanism.

●        End arms sales and security assistance to Turkey.

●        Pressure Turkey to end cross-border military operations in Iraq and Syria.

●        Support and assist in return to peace negotiations between Turkey and the PKK to resolve the Kurdish issue by political means.

To international civil society:

●        Support the demands listed here by signing this letter and engaging with relevant governments and international institutions.

November 30, 2022”


1.           Souad Abdelrahman, Head of Palestine Women’s Association - Palestine


2.           Dr Goran Abdullah - Scotland

3.           Ismet Agirman, Kurdish activist - UK

4.           Prof Dr Tayseer A. Alousi, Secretary General of the Arab Assembly for Supporting Kurdish Issue and President Sumerian Observatory for Human Rights – Netherlands

5.           Dr Maha Al-Sakban, Centre for Women’s Human Rights board member - Iraq

6.           Mick Antoniw MS, Senedd Constituency Member, Welsh Labour Group, Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution - Wales

7.           Chiara Aquino, PhD Candidate, University of Edinburgh - Scotland

8.           Benedetta Argentieri, Journalist and filmmaker - Italy

9.           Rezgar Bahary, Journalist - UK

10.         Naamat Bedrdine, Politician and writer - Lebanon

11.         Walden Bello, International Adjunct Professor of Sociology, SUNY Binghamton, and recipient ot the Right Livelihood Award (aka Alternative Nobel Prize) in 2003 - USA

12.         Janet Biehl, Independent scholar, author, artist - USA

13.         Jonathan Bloch, Writer - UK

14.         Baroness Christine Blower, House of Lords - UK

15.         Debbie Bookchin, Journalist and author - USA

16.         Prof Bill Bowring, School of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London - UK

17.         Jane Byrne, Teacher - UK

18.         Robert Caldwell, Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies, University at Buffalo – USA

19.         Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC) - UK

20.         CND (Campaign Against Nuclear Disarmament) - UK

21.         Margaret Cerullo, Hampshire College - USA

22.         Maggie Cook, UNISON NEC member - UK

23.         Mary Davis FRSA, Visiting Professor of Labour History at Royal Holloway University of London - UK

24.         Defend Kurdistan Initiative - UK

25.         Mary Dibis, Mousawat for Women - Lebanon

26.         Penelope Dimond, Writer and actor - UK

27.         Gorka Elejabarrieta Diaz, Basque Senator, Director EH Bildu International Relations Department - Basque Country

28.         Federal Executive Committee of Women’s Union Courage - Germany

29.         Silvia Federici, Author and Professor Emerita of Social Science, Hofstra University - USA

30.         Andrew Feinstein , Executive Director, Shadow World Investigations - UK

31.         Dr Phil Frampton, Author - UK

32.         Freedom Socialist Party - Australian Section

33.         Freedom Socialist Party - USA Section

34.         Andreas Gavrielidis, Greek-Kurdish Solidarity

35.         Lindsey German, Convenor Stop the War Coalition - UK

36.         Selay Ghaffar, Exiled women’s rights activist from Afghanistan

37.         Prof Barry Gills, Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science - UK

38.         Dr Sarah Glynn, Writer - France

39.         Mustafa Gorer, Kurdish activist - UK

40.         Kirmanj Gundi, KHRO (Kurdistan Human Rights Observer) - UK

41.         Prof Michael Gunter, General Secretary of EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) - USA

42.         Rahila Gupta, Chair of Southall Black Sisters - UK

43.         Kazhal Hamarashid, Board member of the Toronto Kurdish Community Centre - Canada

44.         Niaz Hamdi, KHRO (Kurdistan Human Rights Observer) - UK

45.         John Hendy QC, Barrister - UK

46.         Nick Hildyard, Policy analyst - UK

47.         Ava Homa, Writer, journalist and activist - Canada/USA

48.         Srecko Horvat, Co-founder of DiEM25 & Progressive International

49.         Dr Stephen Hunt, PiK Ecology Network - UK

50.         John Hunt, Journalist - UK

51.         Alia Hussein, Women’s Affairs Committee of the General Federation of Iraqi Trade Unions - Iraq

52.         Lord Hylton, House of Lords - UK

53.         Serif Isildag, Journalist - UK

54.         Ruken Isik, Adjunct Lecturer at American University - USA

55.         Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Crymru – Wales

56.         Jin Women’s Association - Lebanon

57.         Ramsey Kanaan, Publisher, PM Press - UK

58.         James Kelman, Author - Scotland

59.         Gulay Kilicaslan, Department of Law and Legal Studies, Carleton University - Kanada

60.         Nida Kirmani, Women Democratic Front, Haqooq-e-Khalq Party – Pakistan

61.         Nimat Koko Hamad, Associate researcher and gender specialist - Sudan

62.         Kongra Star Women’s Movement – Rojava & Syria

63.         Claudia Korol, Founder of Popular Education Collective Pañuelos en Rebeldía, Feministas de Abya Yala - Argentina

64.         Balazs Kovacs, Consultant - UK

65.         Kurdish Women’s Relations Office (REPAK) – Kurdistan Region of Iraq

66.         Şeyda Kurt, Journalist and Writer - Germany

67.         Coni Ledesma, International Women’s Alliance (IWA) Europe - Netherlands

68.         Dr Anjila Al-Maamari, Center for Strategic Studies to Support Women and Children - Yemen

69.         Aonghas MacNeacail, Scottish Gaelic poet - Scotland

70.         Fazela Mahomed, Kurdish Human Rights Action Group - South Africa

71.         Saleh Mamon, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC) - UK

72.         Dr Carol Mann, Director of Women in War - France

73.         Mike Mansfield QC, Barrister - UK

74.         Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Lecturer of Political Sociology, Fellow of Darwin College, University of Cambridge - UK

75.         Zahraa Mohamad, Journalist - Lebanon

76.         Francie Molloy, MP for Mid Ulster - Ireland

77.         David Morgan, Journalist - UK

78.         Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, Green Party Member of the House of Lords - UK

79.         Maryam Namazie, Human rights activist, commentator, and broadcaster - UK

80.         Dr Marie Nassif-Debs, President of Association Equality-Wardah Boutros - Lebanon

81.         Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, General Federation of Trade Unions - UK

82.         Margaret Owen, O.B.E., President Widows for Peace through Democracy - UK

83.         Prof Felix Padel, Research associate at Center for World Environmental History, University of Sussex - UK

84.         Sarah Parker, Anti-Capitalist Resistance - UK

85.         Patriotic Democratic Socialist Party (PPDS) - Tunisia

86.         Peace in Kurdistan Campaign - UK

87.         Maxine Peake, Actress - UK

88.         Rosalind Petchesky, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Political Science, Hunter College & the Graduate Center, City University of New York – USA

89.         Dr Thomas Phillips, lecturer in law at Liverpool John Moore University - UK

90.         Eleonora Gea Piccardi, University of Coimbra, PhD candidate - Italy

91.         Ulisse Pizzi, Geologist, UK engineering consultancy - UK

92.         Dr Anni Pues, International human rights lawyer - UK

93.         Radical Women - USA

94.         Radical Women - Australia

95.         Bill Ramsay, Ex-President Educational Institute of Scotland and Convenor of Scottish National Party – Scotland

96.         Ismat Raza Shahjahan, President of Women Democratic Front - Pakistan

97.         Trevor Rayne, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! - UK

98.         Gawriyah Riyah Cude, Women’s Trade Union Forum - Iraq

99.         Dimitri Roussopoulos, Writer, editor, publisher, political activist - Canada

100.       Nighat Said Khan, Women Democratic Front, Women Action Forum WAF - Pakistan

101.       Dr Michael Schiffmann, Linguist, English Department of the University of Heidelberg, Translator - Germany

102.       Paul Scholey, Morrish Solicitors - UK

103.       Bert Schouwenburg, International Trade Union Advisor - UK

104.       Chris Scurfield, Political activist - UK

105.       Stephen Smellie, Deputy Convenor UNISON Scotland and NEC member - Scotland

106.       Geoff Shears, Vice-Chair of the Centre for Labour and Social Studies(CLASS) - UK

107.       Tony Shephard, Musician and graphic designer - UK

108.       Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation - UK

109.       Radha D'Souza, Professor of law at the University of Westminster - UK

110.       Oskar Spong, Operator - UK

111.       Chris Stephens MP, Glasgow South West - Scotland

112.       Steve Sweeney, International Editor, Morning Star - UK

113.       Tooba Syed, Women Democratic Front - Pakistan

114.       Greta Sykes, Writer and artist - UK

115.       Tim Symonds, Novelist - UK

116.       Joly Talukder, General Secretary of the Bangladesh Garment Workers Trade Union Centre - Bangladesh

117.       Latifa Taamalah Women’s Committee - Tunisia

118.       Shavanah Taj, General Secretary Wales TUC - Wales

119.       Lisa-Marie Taylor, CEO of FiLiA - UK

120.       Saadia Toor, Women Democratic Front - Pakistan

121.       Tom Unterrainer, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation - UK

122.       Prof Abbas Vali, Professor of Modern Social and Political Theory - UK

123.       Dr Federico Venturini, University of Udine - Italy

124.       Andy Walsh, Chair, Greater Manchester Law Centre - UK

125.       Julie Ward, Former MEP - UK

126.       Arthur West, Secretary, Kilmarnock and Loudon Trades Union Council - Scotland

127.       Prof Kariane Westrheim, Chair of EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) - Norway

128.       Alex Wilson, PhD student at York University in Toronto, Ontario - Canada

129.       Dr Fiona Woods, Lecturer, Technological University Shannon - Ireland

130.       Paula Yacoubian, Member of Parliament - Lebanon

131.       Rosy Zúñiga, Latin America and Caribbean Popular Education Council CEAAL - Mexico