An assemblage of Turkish pro-Kurdish and leftist political parties including the HDP will stage a “March for Humanity Against Chemical Weapons” today in Istanbul.
The parties accuse Turkey’s government of using chemical weapons against civilians, including in campaigns in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Turkey denies all allegations, and the KRI’s governing party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party, has refused to allow independent investigations. As part of their march, the protesters will also call on the EU to pressure Turkey not to use chemical weapons against Kurdish guerrillas operating in the KRI.
Turkey is highly sensitive to criticism of its Kurdish operations, threatening to penalize countries that accuse it of any wrongdoing. In October, police detained the president of the Turkish Medical Association after she called for an investigation into allegations the Turkish military used chemical weapons in the KRI.
Expect the march to prove largely unsuccessful at increasing international pressure on Turkey. The allegations of Turkey’s actions in the KRI receive little media attention in the West, as many Western allies willingly overlook Turkey’s alleged misdoings given its support in Syria. As such, the EU is unlikely to act upon calls for an independent investigation, lest President Erdogan withdraws cooperation on immigration and other issues.
Jon is a Content Editor and Analyst within the Analysis division of Foreign Brief.