Der Spiegel: A Mini-Halabja in Turkey?


The German newsweekly Der Spiegel claims to have obtained "shocking photos" that show the Turkish military using chemical weapons against the Kurdish militant group PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), though it doesn't appear that the images have yet been posted online. Here is Der Spiegel:

German experts have confirmed the authenticity of photographs that purport to show PKK fighters killed by chemical weapons. The evidence puts increasing pressure on the Turkish government, which has long been suspected of using such weapons against Kurdish rebels. German politicians are demanding an investigation.

The photos were obtained by a human rights group associated with Die Linke, the far-left party born out of the ashes of the East German communist party, SED. So skepticism is warranted, though I don't suspect Der Spiegel would run with this story unless it went through a pretty rigorous process of verification. Or at least one hopes.

It would be difficult to exceed the horror shown in the photos, which feature burned, maimed and scorched body parts. The victims are scarcely even recognizable as human beings. Turkish-Kurdish human rights activists believe the people in the photos are eight members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) underground movement, who are thought to have been killed in September 2009.

In March, the activists gave the photos to a German human rights delegation comprised of Turkey experts, journalists and politicians from the far-left Left Party, as SPIEGEL reported at the end of July. Now Hans Baumann, a German expert on photo forgeries has confirmed the authenticity of the photos, and a forensics report released by the Hamburg University Hospital has backed the initial suspicion, saying that it is highly probable that the eight Kurds died "due to the use of chemical substances."

If true, this certainly won't help British Prime Minister David Cameron's "fight" for Turkey's EU accession.