By Kurdish Women’s Office for Peace
International delegation for investigating war crimes and bringing those responsible to justice
Over 120 mass graves, where there are presumed to be the bodies of over 1,500 people, illustrates the brutality and the war crimes against the Kurdish population. For 10 years the “Saturday mothers” and “Peace mothers”, human rights groups and members of groups such as IHD, TIHV and MEYA-Der have been seeking under the hardest conditions a resolution to the massacres by the Turkish army in the regions of Siirt, Bitlis, Diyarbakir, Van, Batman, Hakkari, Bingöl, Sirnak, Mardin, Elazig, Agri, Dersim, Igdir, and Antep.
For the first time, human rights and women’s rights groups from Germany and Switzerland have put together a delegation in cooperation with various initiatives, which will examine the mass graves in the Van near Catak region between 14th and 25th September 2011. There, on the 23rd October 1998, around 40 guerrilla fighters of the People’s Liberation Party of Kurdistan (ARGK) were surrounded and killed during a Turkish military operation. Eye-witnesses report that some of the unarmed guerrilla fighters were captured by the soldiers and, shortly after, cruelly martyred.
Amongst the murdered was also the internationalist Andrea Wolf (Ronahi), who was born in Germany and had joined the YAJK-women’s group in the guerrilla to fight for a life of peace and dignity. According to eye-witness statements Andrea Wolf, who had brought to light her political identity as an internationalist, was tortured and raped by the Turkish soldiers after being captured. Torture and murder of defenceless prisoners of war was made illegal under the Geneva Convention and under international law. Despite much more intensive efforts by human rights organisations, followers and friends of those murdered, this massacre – like many others – has not yet been legally condemned. Those responsible continue to live unchallenged; till today they have still not been held accountable for their crimes.
Especially in the face of the renewed escalation of the war and the massive increase in human rights violations in Turkey and Kurdistan, it is more urgent than ever to make people aware of the past war crimes as well as preventing new ones. Also, it is necessary on the one hand that the military, political and economic support for Turkey by the German government and the arms industry is immediately stopped. On the other hand, the experiences in many countries have shown that peace and democratisation processes are only possible through an open dialogue between all parties as well as through the accounting for and condemnation of war crimes. Therefore, one can presume that the proper and official opening of the mass graves within the scope of UN-protocol can assure the uncovering and prevention of illegal, wholesale and arbitrary executions.
With that said, the Kurdish Women’s Office for Peace CENÎ; the Information Agency ISKU; the Legal Support Association AZADI; and the Association for Democracy and International Justice MAF-DAD, in cooperation with the friends of “Andrea Wolf”, with the IUK and with other involved institutions and groups, all join in the preparation and the realisation of an international delegation to investigate and uncover the massacres by the Turkish army since 23 October and to ensure the legal prosecution of the perpetrators.
We see this as a step towards the creation of a truth and justice commission in Turkey which brings the genocide and feminicide in Turkey and Kurdistan to light and paves the way for a political solution to the Kurdish problem.
Kurdisches Frauenbüro für Frieden CENÎ e.V.; Informationsstelle ISKU e.V.; Rechtshilfeverein für KurdInnen AZADI e.V., Verein für Demokratie und Internationales Recht MAF-DAD e.V.
Kurdisches Frauenbüro für Frieden e.V.
Kurdish Women’s Office for Peace
D- 40215 Düsseldorf
Tel.: 0049 (0)211 598 92 51