Chomsky calls for a "serious investigation" into Turkish use of chemical weapons

World-renowned American linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky demanded a "serious investigation" into Turkish use of chemical attacks against guerrilla forces in Kurdistan.

Philosopher and linguist Noam Chomsky spoke to journalist Selahattin Işıldak of Medyahaber TV channel about the Turkish state's attacks and crackdown against the Kurds.


“The Turkish government has carried out many serious atrocities. In the 1990s, the war against the Kurds of Turkey was a horrendous crime. Tens of thousands killed, hundreds of thousands of refugees and thousands of villages destroyed in every imaginable form of torture,” Chomsky said.


Chomsky pointed out that Turkey’s use of chemical weapons marked a new phase in its atrocities against Kurdistan: “Since then, there are many other examples of the Turkish government atrocities. So, this (the use of chemical weapons) could be true, but I do not have direct evidence. So, I can't really say anything about a particular case, but the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) is a highly reliable organization. The founder was a close friend of mine. It would certainly make good sense to send an independent investigation. If there is a way to bring it to the United Nations (UN), they certainly should do and act on it.”


Chomsky called attention to the IPPNW's findings concerning the chemical attacks. “These are very serious charges. They (IPPNW doctors Jan Van Aken and Josef Beppe Savary) are coming from an organization which in fact won the Nobel Peace Prize. It is a highly regarded and respected organization with highly qualified investigators. So, this is certainly a legitimate case for a serious investigation.  Perhaps some national government would be willing to sponsor this initiative. Perhaps the Swedish government since they presented the Nobel Prize to the IPPNW.”

Chomsky also criticized the Federal Kurdistan Region administration: “Well, I don't think the regional government has the credibility to call forth a serious investigation. Going back to the Halabja Massacre, I am sorry to say that, but the country that prevented an investigation was the US. In fact, the Reagan administration refused to blame Saddam Hussein. Those who were then supporting refused to blame the massacre and tried to shift the blame to Iran. Reagan himself blocked the congressional effort to protest it. I don't know what the US would say today. But I think the regional government is not in a position to do very much. It has to be one of the major states which could perhaps approach the UN, who would be a source of an investigation. Either the UN or one of its subsidiaries.”


Chomsky addressed the arrest of Şebnem Korur Fincancı who demanded an investigation into the chemical attacks.

"We don't really need more evidence that the Turkish government is a highly repressive and authoritarian government. Naturally, any decent person should strongly protest this. But an effective protest is going to have to come from some international organizations or states with enough credibility to reach the general public. I can protest, but that doesn't mean anything. So, I think that the most likely possibility is to have some state, maybe Sweden, approach the UN and call for an investigation of these extremely serious charges.”


Chomsky remarked that nobody should expect criminal states to investigate their own crimes. “They are not going to do it. They should also accept the investigation of the hideous crimes they committed in the 1990s and the more recent crimes and their invasion of Kurdish areas in Syria. A lot of things they should do. But you cannot expect criminal states to carry out investigations of their own crimes. The US does not investigate its own crimes. They call forth investigations of other crimes. And the Turkish state is not going to be more responsible than the USA, France or England…Unfortunately, that's not the way the world of power operates under pressure. There is a lot the powerful ought to do. But they won’t do it unless under severe pressure.”


Chomsky stressed that most of the Turkish atrocities against the Kurds were carried out with broad US support.

"The international community has the responsibility to bring to the general public severe violations of human rights to organize public efforts to compel state powers to respond to them. Sometimes this can be achieved. Often it is extremely difficult. We know what the responsibilities are. Then comes the task of trying to fulfil them, which takes extreme effort. I’ll just give an example: take the Turkish atrocities against Turkey’s Kurds in the 1990s. They were all carried out with extensive U.S. government support. In fact, the Clinton administration gave more aid to Turkey at the peak moment of the crimes in 1998, more than the entire period at the initiation of the Turkish counter-insurgency operations.”


Chomsky expressed his support to Prof. Şebnem Korur Fincancı and 9 Kurdish journalists who were recently arrested. “We support them. We wish them courage facing the hard circumstances to which they have been subjected. We will do everything we can to bring their brutal treatment to public attention to organize efforts to end these atrocities. So, be strong. Know that there are many people who greatly respect what you are doing and are dedicated to trying to give you whatever help they can,” Chomsky said.