Kurdish protest in Brussels against Turkish bombing of northern Iraq

Kurdish protest in Brussels against Turkish bombing of northern Iraq
Demonstration in Brussels, 26 July, credit: The Brussels Times

A protest action took place at Schuman Square in Brussels on Tuesday against Turkish incursions and alleged war crimes in the Kurdish part of northern Iraq.

The demonstration gathered about 250 people from human rights organisations and the Kurdish community according to the organisers, the Belgian Democratic Council of Kurdistan Communities. It aimed at drawing the attention of decision-makers in the EU about the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan, the autonomous region governed by Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

A cease-fire during which Turkey and Kurdistan Workers´ Party (PKK) entered peace negotiations ended in July 2015 when Turkey resumed bombing PKK bases in Iraq. Turkey has also established military outposts in the area. According to figures from the Brussels based Kurdish National Congress (KNK), 138 civilians including children have been killed in these hostilities.

The latest incident which prompted the demonstration was Turkish shelling last week against a tourist site in a village close to the town of Zakho which claimed the lives of 9 visitors and injured 26 other civilians.

Kurdish sources claim that the Turkish forces are using chemical weapons but these allegations have not been verified by independent sources. A Commission spokesperson told The Brussels Times that it is not aware of the use of chemical weapons by the Turkish military in Iraq or elsewhere.

The organisers called on the US and the EU to take a clear stand against Turkey and demand that it immediately stops all military operations and that its troops leave Iraqi-Kurdish territory.

There is also risk of destabilization in the whole region if Turkey would make good on its threat to invade north-east Syria, which is controlled by a Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration.

At an Iranian-Russian-Turkish summit last week in Tehran between the presidents of the three countries, both Iran and Russia tried to dissuade Turkey from launching a new military operation in  Syria. Judging from the statements issued after the summit, they only managed to persuade Turkish president Erdogan to limit the aims of the military operation.

As previously reported, Turkey dropped its veto against Sweden and Finland joining NATO after the three countries signed a memorandum of understanding on anti-terrorism co-operation last June at the NATO summit in Madrid. Among others, Sweden and Finland committed not to provide support to the leftist Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, YPG, in northern Syria.

The People’s Protection Units (YPG) is not on EU’s list of terrorist organisations and was allied with the US in the war against the Islamic State. Turkey sees the region as a vital strategic interest and considers the YPG a terrorist organization linked to PKK.

M. Apelblat

The Brussels Times

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