REPUBLIC OF TURKEY: Fresh evidence of casualties underscores need for impartial investigation into Turkish airstrikes in Kandil Mountains.

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18 Aug 2015
[International Secretariat]

Evidence collected by Amnesty International in a fact-finding mission indicates that multiple Turkish government airstrikes killed eight residents and injured at least eight others in a flagrantly unlawful attack on a village, in the Kandil Mountains in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. 

The airstrikes on 1 August were part of a military campaign launched by Turkey against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) but according to information gathered by Amnesty International these residents were not affiliated with the PKK. The organization is calling on the Turkish government to launch an independent, impartial and effective investigation into the airstrikes and to publicly release the findings of their investigation.

“The recent attacks in Kandil maimed, killed, and displaced residents, destroying homes and terrifying locals in an area where no military targets appeared to be present,” said Lama Fakih, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International who visited the area.

The Turkish authorities had initially claimed the strikes were targeting PKK members at a “terrorist camp”.  They have since announced plans to conduct a joint investigation into the strikes with the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq (KRG).

Evidence gathered by Amnesty International three days after the airstrikes suggests all those killed and injured in the attack were not affiliated with the PKK. Amnesty International spoke to several eyewitnesses, including two doctors who rescued the wounded and three residents who consistently said that none of the dead or injured were PKK fighters and that there were no PKK fighters in the area.

All the witnesses said that the victims wore civilian clothes and that they saw no weapons on the scene. Amnesty International reviewed 10 photographs and one video from the scene that were consistent with these witness statements.

Dr. Medya, a doctor and member of the PKK, who runs a health clinic for residents, in a nearby village, described what she saw when she arrived on the scene to Amnesty International:

I saw a lot of people crying about their relatives. One woman fell down…she had hypertension. I saw someone with a wound in the head. I saw a person… [his organs had spilled] outside, [he was ]wounded, and in shock position…He [Najeeb Aziz] died. He had lost too much blood. Another one was completely burnt. Some people, how can I say, were shocked and crying…several houses completely destroyed…another clinic which is about 400 metres away, even there you could see the shells, you could see the destroyed windows, and in the mosque too.”

Witnesses also said many relatives and first responders who came to assist the wounded in the first airstrike were killed and injured in subsequent attacks.  

A media spokesperson authorized to speak on behalf of the PKK told Amnesty International that in order to ensure civilian protection PKK fighters did not mix with the residents and that as a general practice they maintained positions at least 5 kilometers away from them.

These attacks should be investigated, and Turkish authorities should ensure accountability and redress in the event of wrongdoing.

11 August 2015

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