4 June 2012
IRAQI KURDISTAN: Turkish official receives CPT report on cross-border attacks
The Iraqi Kurdistan Christian Peacemaker Team hand-delivered a new report detailing harm to civilian Kurds from Turkey’s cross-border military actions to a Turkish diplomat. The meeting with Abdullah Topçu, Vice Consul in the Turkish consulate of Hawler, Iraqi Kurdistan, took place on 15 May.
While Turkey claims its attacks target the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party), CPT’s report, Disrupted lives: the effects of cross-border attacks by Turkey and Iran on Kurdish villages, documents extensive impacts on civilian life in the Pshdar District of Iraqi Kurdistan.
“…[T]he continued shelling and bombing in the Pshdar district, and the yearly moves to and from IDP* camps, continue to seriously impact and threaten every aspect of village life and basic human needs,” according to the report, which covers 2011 and 2012. “Village residents reported that in 2011 the attacks were the most intense of the last six years.”
Citing the physical and psychological damage to civilians resulting from the ongoing operations, CPT asked Vice Consul Topçu what motivates them. He replied that Turkey desires peace and is looking for a peaceful solution to the conflict. “Attacking civilians and farmers is not acceptable to us,” he said. However, he added, the Turkish government’s hands are tied, and military violence is necessary to protect the borders.
When asked about past attacks seemingly directed against the civilian population, the Vice Consul stated that “there has not been any attack against civilians intentionally.” Pressed on the safety of civilians in border areas he said, “We will never attack innocent people.”
Tent-dwellers displaced by cross-border attacks
The report documents civilian deaths, physical and emotional injuries, loss of crops and livestock, property damage, environmental contamination and regular displacement each year for long periods, all resulting from cross-border military actions.
CPT insisted that violence will neither solve Turkey’s conflict with the PKK nor deter Turkey’s Kurds from struggling for their rights. CPT does not condone violence, especially when directed towards civilians, and believes that only a peaceful and open dialogue with the full acknowledgement of the human and civil rights of the Kurdish people will put an end to these conflicts.
*Internally Displaced Persons