The Turkish state attacked the village of Perex on July 20. Nine Iraqi citizens were killed, and dozens were injured. Following this massacre, a new and very justified debate began in the international community.
There has been a lot of discussion so far to put an end to Turkey’s invasion and attacks in Kurdistan in general, and South Kurdistan/ Northern Iraq in particular. Such calls were always made by Kurdish public opinion to international powers. But international powers have always remained silent about this illegal behavior of Turkey, which constitutes war crimes. As the reason for this silence, they stated that the Iraqi government did not take a sufficient attitude. Now, with this latest attack, an important opportunity has arisen for these forces to fulfill their obligations.
Especially if the UN wants to fulfill its own credibility and its obligations arising from its charter, it should consider this complaint of the Iraqi state as an opportunity. Indeed, Iraq has now explicitly asked them to take steps.
The Iraqi People’s and Governments Attitude Offers An Opportunity To End Turkish Occupation
As a result of the sensitivity and public pressure that emerged after the massacre of Iraqi tourists by Turkey, the UN finally had to make some statements and the UN Security Council had to take an emergency meeting.
United Nations on Thursday called for a “prompt and thorough” investigation into the deadly bombardment that struck a tourist resort in the Kurdistan Region’s Duhok province, killing nine Iraqi tourists and injuring 33 other people in an attack by Turkey. The incident was widely condemned by the international community, including the US, the Arab League, China, the European Court of Human Rights, the UK and the UN
At the Iraqi authorities’ demand the U.N. Security Council held a meeting on 26 July, 2022. During that meeting the Iraqi government called on the United Nations to pass a resolution to force the withdrawal of the Turkish military from the north of the country. The Iraqi Foreign Minister, also denounced the attack before the UN Security Council, naming it “a flagrant aggression by the Turkish Army against innocent civilians” and stressed that it was “a military aggression against the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Iraq”. He asked the international body for the mentioned resolution and reminded them that the presence of Turkish troops in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan is “illegal”, given that it does not have the approval of the Iraqi government nor is it framed in a security or military agreement with Ankara. In this sense, he warned that the presence of Turkish military in this area of the country will increase instability. In a message sent to the Security Council concerning the Turkish attack on 20 July, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said that “22,740 Turkish violations have been documented. Baghdad demands an apology from the Turkish side for Iraq and its people”.
Why Did Turkey Attack This Resort Place
The Turkish state did not carry out this attack by mistake; it did it deliberately. This is certain, as Turkish troops are directly opposite the village, and 400-500 Turkish military vehicles are deployed there. There are generally about a thousand tourists based there. The Turkish state also knows that it is a touristic place. The Turkish state can see a person under a tree and assassinate him with its advanced technology, how can it possibly hit a picnic area accidentally? There is no mistake here and the Turkish state did not shell the area just because a commander in the region wanted to do so.
This is Turkey’s official approach in politics. Turkish power elites want to establish their dominance in South Kurdistan and Iraq. They want to intimidate and kidnap people and seek domination by putting psychological pressure in this way. This is not the first attack. For many years they have been killing civilians in Southern Kurdistan, Rojava and Northern Kurdistan based on this policy. They want to intimidate people. And it seems that they don’t want it to remain a picnic area; they rather want the area to be left to them. Turkey does not want people in those areas and seeks to establish a complete military domination. In short, the Turkish state carried out this attack on purpose.
Almost 30 thousand Turkish Soldiers in South Kurdistan
The number of military points established by the Turkish state in South Kurdistan is around 100, but the number of soldiers currently deployed and active on Iraqi territory is at least 30 thousand. Furthermore, the Turkish state’s special forces, commandos, and all expert brigades are currently based in South Kurdistan, that is, in Iraq. In the three-month period from April 14 to July 14, 2022 the number of Turkish bombings by fighter jets on Iraqi territory is 2,574, and the number of attacks by helicopters is 1,933.
Now this attack is being discussed intensely in Iraq, South Kurdistan and throughout Kurdistan. The village of Perex is located in Heftanîn. The village is one and a half kilometres away from the official border of Turkey. There is the Kiryaresh area, where a large Turkish military base is located. The Turkish state has currently occupied 23 hills in Heftanîn, it has built military bases in 23 places, and most of them are located around Perex. Behind Perex, there are Turkish colonial forces, and there is a border line to the west. In fact, it is a region under the control of Turkish troops.
Turkey Did Not Expect Such a Reaction
Maybe Turkey didn’t expect such a strong reaction to its attack. They did not expect it because they have committed many massacres before that, and no country has ever reacted. For instance, several massacres took place around Qandil, in Sheladize and most recently in Bamerne. Last year, they hit a hospital in Sikeniyê in Shengal (Sinjar) and 8 civilians were martyred. If the Iraqi state and al-Kadhimi government had reacted to Turkey at that time, this latest massacre would not have happened. In August 2020, the two top military commanders of the Iraqi army, Zubayir Hali and Muhammed Rashit, were deliberately murdered by the Turkish state, but the Iraqi Prime Minister submitted to Erdoğan. They didn’t react at all. That’s why the Turkish government is acting comfortably, but this time, especially the Iraqi people has given Turkey a very valuable response.
The Iraqi people have declared that ‘enough is enough’. The latest attack was the last straw in this sense. A serious reaction has thus developed. When the people showed such a response to Turkey collectively, both Iraqi and South Kurdistan officials made statements, and there has been reaction on the part of the governments.
Although there are some shortcomings, there is a certain level of reaction that has emerged. If they had shown this reaction before, the Turkish state would not have been able to commit such massacres. If the Turkish state is not halted, it could do anything because it wants to establish its dominance over the area. They have such a purpose, and when necessary, they strike without making any distinction between soldiers and civilians.
Massacre, Denial And Lies
The Turkish state has denied committing this massacre. It even claimed that the “PKK did it”. Although Iraq proved that this massacre was committed by the Turkish state, Turkey denied it. This denial causes the world to see Turkey’s reality. What is this reality? This is what Turkey always does. Turkey promotes terror in Kurdistan, but it accuses us of being ‘terrorists’. It kills our people but says that ‘I don’t kill civilians'. It completely denies and ignores the Kurdish people anyway. The reality of the Turkish state is denial, massacre and lies. The Turkish state is practicing state terrorism. This is what the Turkish state is. It has denied this last incident as well. Iraqi authorities have confirmed that Turkey did it, but they don’t even take it into account. For example, Turkish authorities did not even reply to Iraq. They even said “Don’t fall into a trap, let’s cooperate ” as if they were talking to a child. They don’t even have respect. Therefore, the massacre showed the true face of the Turkish state a little more.
Why The PKK Has Relocated All Their Forces to South Kurdistan.
Some criticize the PKK, saying that it has carried its war with the Turkish state to South Kurdistan.
There have also been some discussions in the Iraqi Parliament over this issue. Some allege that the PKK enters the territory of North Kurdistan (Turkey) from South Kurdistan, strikes the Turkish forces there, and then returns to South Kurdistan. This is not the case. Nothing like this has happened in the last 10 years. Ten years ago, there was a ceasefire between PKK and the Turkish state. The ceasefire lasted two and a half years. According to the agreement, PKK was set to relocate all their forces to South Kurdistan. They had already withdrawn some of their forces, but when they saw that the Turkish state did not have good intentions, they stopped the withdrawal of the troops. At that time, the Kurdistan Regional Government was also involved in the relocation of PKK forces to South Kurdistan; they knew and confirmed it. Iraq also confirmed it de facto. Guerrilla forces had to withdraw to South Kurdistan to continue negotiations with Turkey. Then Erdogan, halted the peace process even though a memorandum of understanding was signed at Dolmabahçe Palace, Istanbul. Since then, the Turkish state has been unilaterally mounting attacks wherever PKK has forces. This is how the current war is taking place. Turkey has brought this war to South Kurdistan. They attack PKK unilaterally and want to occupy the lands that comprise the territories of its National Pact.
If The Targets Is The PKK, What Are Turkish Troops Doing In Bashiqa Near Mosul?
If the PKK is the cause of the attacks, then why does the Turkish military have a base in Bashiqa? Why did the Turkish state not withdraw its troops from Bashiqa when the Iraqi government asked them to do so 3-4 years ago? Turkey has never withdrawn its forces, and now secretly deploys its troops to Kirkuk. It also wants to occupy Kirkuk through its troops that it deploys as civilians and MIT (Turkish intelligence service) elements. It builds up a force and trains its forces over there. The Turkish state has plans for these lands. This needs to be seen. Maybe a part of the issue concerns the PKK, but the PKK is not the whole problem. This is a reality, too, and must be seen.
How Can Iraq the UN Stop Turkeys Occupation
Despite the current internal problems, the Iraqi state holds a strong position against the Turkish state. And now for example, if Iraq closes the border gate for two months and does not trade with Turkey, it could even cause the AKP-MHP government to collapse. Currently, South Kurdistan and Iraq are like a lifesaver for the Turkish state. Turkey sells its products in these lands. If the Iraqi state halts trade with Turkey now, Turkey will not be able to endure the resulting economic crisis and will collapse. In other words, Iraq has an economic card which strengthens its hand. Iraq can take a stance and give the necessary answer to the Turkish state in this way. In this manner, not only the people who were killed in Perex-Zakho, but also 138 of civilians who were martyred on Iraqi soil as a result of the Turkish attacks in the last 7 years, including those who were martyred by colonialism in South Kurdistan, Iraq and Rojava, can rest in peace. Therefore, such an attitude needs to be developed.
So, the fact that today the Turkish state is occupying ever larger parts of Southern Kurdistan, establishing military bases, causing massacres in towns and villages with artillery and air strikes, and that Iraq is unable to show a deterrent reaction to this as a state, is precisely the result of this internal political conflict and because the international powers have so far refused to make any serious criticism against this occupation.
If the UN and Iraq really do not want the Zakho massacre to be repeated and if they want to end the current state of occupation by the Turkish state, they must adopt a more resolute stance and fulfill their legal obligations. Otherwise, the inhuman policy of the Turkish state will be the cause of even more suffering and losses, and the Turkish state will become a permanent occupying power in Iraq.
The latest urgent UN Security Council meeting on this massacre was a positive step, but if it doesn’t follow its decisions and take the necessary steps to stop the Turkish state’s attacks, the Turkish state will continue these attacks.
The annex shows how Turkey has practiced massacring in South Kurdistan for many years. They could only do it because the silence of the international forces has given them the encouragement to do so. Therefore, it is time to put an end to the Turkish human rights and international humanitarian law violations.
While the “Bloody Monday” in Zakho has acquired an unforgettable place in the history of South Kurdistan and the Behdinan region, the Turkish state has started bombing villages and civilian settlements since the late 1990s and early 2000s. Here is the list of the war crimes committed by Turkey against civilians in South Kurdistan:
27 FEBRUARY 1995 ZAKHO MASSACRE: The Turkish army hit Zakho during the “Steel Operation” in 1995, which was the most comprehensive invasion operation up to that time. On 27 February 1995, JITEM members, the counter unit of the Turkish state, carried out a bomb attack in the center of Zakho in order to create chaos and prepare the environment for the invasion attack, whose button would be pressed on 21 March 1995. As a result of the explosion of a bomb placed in a taxi near a crowded market in the city center of Zakho, 76 civilians lost their lives and more than 100 were injured.
9 SHEPHERDS MASSACRE: On Newroz 1995, the Turkish army, with its 35 thousand soldiers, launched the invasion attack, which it named the “Steel Operation”, by occupying the lands of South Kurdistan from four sides. They met strong resistance from the Kurdistan guerrillas. The invading army, which could not get the desired result against the ARGK guerrillas, turned to civilians.
During this invasion attack, 11 villages on the border line were bombed by the invading army, and many civilian vehicles were targeted. In the first days of April, the Turkish army carried out one of the most brutal massacres. On 2 April 1995, Turkish soldiers shot 7 shepherds in the area between the villages of Bawerkê and Bênata, within the provincial borders of Dihok. The names of the 7 shepherds who were killed for allegedly helping the guerrillas were as follows: Abdülkadir İzzetxan, Ismail Hasan Şerif, Özgür Ebdulkadir, Ebdillah Kerim Huseyin, Abdurrahman Muhammed, Şerif Guli Zikri and Ehmed Fettah.
15 AUGUST 2000, KENDAKOL: In 2000, the Turkish army committed another massacre on the territory of South Kurdistan. On 15 August 2000, warplanes hit about 100 coach tents set up on the Kendakolê plain between Xinêre and Lolan, overlooking the Qaşmukê and Avxwar valleys. In this attack, 30 people, including young children and old people, were killed and dozens were injured.
21 AUGUST 2011, KORTEK: After Kendakol, the Turkish state again carried out an attack targeting civilians in South Kurdistan on 21 August. Turkish state warplanes targeted the vehicle in motion near the village of Bolê on the Kortek-Ranya road in the Kandil region. The 7 civilians, including 4 children, who were in the vehicle were killed: Hüseyin Mustafa, Mêr Mam Kak, 34-year-old Rêzan Hüseyin, 11-year-old Zana Hüseyin, 10-year-old Oskar Hüseyin, 4-year-old Sonya Şemal and 7-month-old baby Solin.
1 AUGUST 2015, ZERGELÊ: The Turkish state, which restarted the war against Kurdistan with a comprehensive air attack against Medya Defense Areas on the night of 24 July 2015, did not hesitate to hit civilian settlements in this wave of attacks. In the early hours of the morning on 1 August 2015, the village of Zergelê was bombed by Turkish warplanes. 8 civilians were killed and 10 people were injured.
23 JANUARY 2019, DÊRALOK: Since 2017, the Turkish army has started targeting more civilians in South Kurdistan. Between 2017 and 2018 alone, at least 30 civilians were killed in total on different dates and places. The airstrike on Amediyê and the town of Dêralok on 23 January 2019, killed 4 civilians, and constituted a turning point in the history of resistance in South Kurdistan.
The people of Dêralok, who gathered after this massacre, started to organize protests against the Turkish state. After the demonstrations that lasted for a several days, the people of the region entered the military base of the Turkish army in Sheladize and set the military vehicles on fire. Turkish soldiers killed 2 more civilians, including a child.
27 MAY 2019, KORTEK: Like other invasion attacks, the invasion attack launched on 27 May 2019 too targeted civilians. One of the two brothers in a vehicle hit on 25 June in the Goşîn region of Hewler’s Soran, lost his life and the other was seriously injured.
27 JUNE 2019: Two vehicles were bombed by warplanes, this time in the area of Kortek in the Ranya district of Sulaymaniyah. Those in the targeted vehicles were returning to their homes after vineyard and garden work. In this attack, Abdullah Ali Mîne and his children Kurdistan Abdula and Heryad Abdula were killed.
MASSACRES IN 2020 AND 2021: Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), one of the non-governmental organizations in South Kurdistan, published a detailed report on the Turkish state massacres of civilians in the region last May. Noting that 109 civilians from South Kurdistan were killed in the attacks of the Turkish state between 2015 and 2021, the CPT reported the following civilian massacres in 2020 and 2021:
18 JUNE 2020: Ebas Mexdît was killed in an airstrike on Turkey’s Sidekan region.
19 JUNE 2020: Turkish warplanes bombed the residential areas in the Sheladize town rural area of Duhok’s Amediyê district. 5 civilians lost their lives.
24 JUNE 2020: 2 civilians lost their lives in the bombardment of the picnic area in the Sarbajêr district of the city of Sulaymaniyah.
27 JULY 2020: Dilovan Şahîn, Omer Keşanî and Ebdullah Ehmed lost their lives in the bombardment of the Amediyê countryside.
25 MAY 2021: 20-year-old Bawer Ahmed was injured while watering his field in the village of Deşişe as a result of artillery fire by the invading Turkish state. Other farmers in the area were also injured by shrapnel fragments.
26 MAY 2021: 16-year-old Ali Muhsin and 20-year-old Hasan Muhsin brothers were injured when the Turkish state bombed the village of Bihêrê while they were grazing their animals.
1 JUNE 2021: 70-year-old Ramazan Ali was injured by artillery fire by the soldiers of the invading Turkish state while watering his fields in Hiror.
8 JULY 2021: A civilian was injured in the village of Hiror as a result of the invading Turkish state’s fire on agricultural lands from the base areas.
13 AUGUST 2021: Ibrahem Hassan Mohamad (51) was shot by the invading Turkish state soldiers while irrigating his fields in the village of Deşîşê in Kanîmasî. Villagers had to leave their houses due to attacks by the Turkish army. Mohamad had briefly returned to the village with 12 others to irrigate the fields to support their families.
20 AUGUST 2021: Ahmed Şakir (40) and Yousif Amir (26) were killed by Turkish soldiers’ artillery fire in the Batufa district of Zakho. The families of Şakir and Amir, who came to the region as tourists from Mosul, learned that their relatives lost their lives when the bodies were found 2 days after the incident.
Kurdistan National Congress (KNK)
1 August 2022