Kurd group takes anti-PKK strikes to Euro court

A London-based Kurdish group has filed a lawsuit against Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights, claiming that its aerial strikes against PKK in N Iraq caused deaths and material damage in the Kurdish-run region.

Kurd group takes anti-PKK strikes to Euro court
A London-based Kurdish group has filed a lawsuit against Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights, claiming that its aerial strikes against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq caused deaths and material damage in the Kurdish-run region.

Britain's Guardian newspaper said the legal claims have been brought by the Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP) on behalf of Muslim and Chaldean Christian villagers who say they lost their homes during Turkish air raids last October and December. The Turkish military has launched several aerial strikes against the PKK targets in northern Iraq since December and there was a major ground offensive in February, the largest in a decade. Cross-border operations are also occasionally backed by shelling across the border. The military did not confirm any cross-border attacks before December.
Ankara says the operations strictly target the PKK, designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. There have been no credible reports of civilian casualties from the cross-border attacks thus far.

But the KHRP claims that Turkish attacks have caused deaths. Kerim Yıldız, the organization's director, told the Guardian that their allegations are based on a fact-finding mission to the area this spring. "We have been told that Turkish shelling and bombing caused civilian deaths and injuries, and damage to livelihood, farmland and property," he said. "In Iraq I witnessed some of these atrocities and also saw that civilians have been traumatized [and] ... displaced. The military operations have compromised the human rights of Iraqi civilians," he told the Guardian.

A Turkish embassy spokesman in London, however, disputed the claims. "To my knowledge there were no civilian casualties [in northern Iraq]. But there were some civilians who complained that they had lost livestock," the spokesman told the newspaper.

According to the Guardian, the case against Turkey will test the limits of the court's jurisdiction, although it has a precedent. A 1995 case, also brought by the KHRP, resulted in the Strasbourg court establishing the principle that Council of Europe states could be held accountable for human rights abuses committed beyond their borders -- even outside of Europe. The KHRP failed on that occasion, however, to prove that Turkish soldiers had killed seven shepherds found dead in northern Iraq.

Turkish Land Forces Commander Gen. İlker Başbuğ said last week that Turkey was coordinating with Iran in some of the cross-border attacks -- the first official confirmation of such cooperation -- particularly when the operations take place in areas close to the Iran-Iraq border.

The United States also cooperates with Turkey in the cross-border operations by providing intelligence about the PKK in northern Iraq and air space clearance for the Turkish jet fighters taking part in assaults. Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, speaking after talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week in Washington, reiterated that Ankara and Washington were in close coordination against the PKK threat. Rice, for her part, reiterated that the PKK "is an enemy of Iraq; it's an enemy of the United States, it's an enemy of Turkey; it's an enemy of the region."


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Güncelleme Tarihi: 10 Haziran 2008, 08:03
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