Turkey violates the Chemical Weapons Convention it signed in 1997

Turkey continues to use banned weapons since it signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997.

Turkey signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997. The claim that Turkey has not used chemical weapons can be easily refuted when we look at just a few years following its endorsement of the convention.

The Turkish army has been using chemical weapons in Zap, Avaşîn and Metina regions in Medya Defense Zones in South Kurdistan (North Iraq) since April 23. The People’s Defense Forces (HPG) announced that Turkey has carried out 323 attacks using chemical weapons in the last 6 months. Despite repeated calls, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), to which Turkey is a party, has yet to take a step to halt it.


Turkey signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997. The convention prohibits to produce, stockpile and use chemical weapons for the signatory countries.

According to the Turkish media, Turkey has never used chemical weapons. This claim can be easily refuted when we look at just a few years after the convention was signed by Turkey.

Several reports prepared by the Human Rights Association (İHD) reveal that Turkey started to use chemical weapons systematically after the signing of the convention and international organizations have ignored it.

Three years after signing the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997, Turkey used chemical weapons during a prison attack on December 19, dubbed “Return to Life”, in which 30 prisoners were killed and many others injured. Although a court decided to examine evidence after 15 years and accepted a report of the Forensic Medicine Institute that said “no chemical weapon was used”, it has remained unclear what the substance was that caused many prisoners to burn alive and die.


Witness statements showed that Turkey used chemical weapons 4 years after the signing of the convention. A report prepared by the İHD, which relied on witness statements, crime scene investigation and preliminary autopsy reports, said that Turkish security forces used chemical weapons during the armed clashes in the rural area of ​​the Yedisu district of Bingöl province on May 12-23, 2001. “We find it worrisome that chemical weapons were used for extrajudicial executions that “killed 20 members of the organization.”


Another violation of the convention took place in the Eruh district of Siirt in 2004. According to a report prepared by the İHD Siirt Branch, the dead bodies of 6 guerrillas were not delivered to their families. The report said that the guerrillas were buried and not delivered to the families, and the autopsy and chemical weapons findings were not submitted to the forensic medicine institution. The IHD wrote the following in the opinion part of the report: “The Human Rights Delegation believes that the possibility that the guerrillas were killed by prohibited weapons remains strong since their bodies were not delivered to their families.”


A statement made by the IHD Amed Branch in 2010 pointed out that cases such as ill-treatment of guerrilla bodies, torture and traces of chemical weapons use had become systematic. “The images imply that chemical weapons may have been used in addition to the destruction of the corpses. These practices against the remains of the fighters of the organization are a 'crime against humanity', and the hatred and intolerance of the authorities who disfigured the bodies manifests the current situation of the country,” the statement said.


It has been reported that Turkey has used chemical weapons myriad times in the conflict with the PKK since 1997. Concerns have been raised, but no steps have been taken against Turkey.

Turkey's use of chemical weapons was reported to the world public opinion in 2019.

Amnesty International reported that Turkey used chemical weapons in its invasion attacks in Afrin.

The Kurdish Red Crescent announced that 6 patients including civilians were hospitalized with burns caused by “unknown weapons”.

YPG, Syrian Human Rights Watch and Syrian state media reported that Turkey attacked a village in Afrin with chemical weapons, while Iranian state-run television revealed that the Turkish army used chemical weapons.

Although it was later confirmed by local sources that “white phosphorus” had been used against civilians, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said that they were aware of the alleged use of chemical weapons and that they were gathering information about the issue.