Is Turkey using chemical weapons against Kurdish rebels? German weekly Der Spiegel reported on its website Thursday that it had obtained photographs showing the bodies of fighters from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that had been killed by chemical weapons. The report, which is based on a report published over the weekend, claims German experts have examined and confirmed the photographs' authenticity.
According to the report, the horrifying images show burned, maimed and scorched body parts. Kurdish human rights activists believe the people in the photos are eight members of the PKK underground, who were killed in clashes with the Turkish military in September 2009.
The photographs were transferred to a human rights delegation including German activists, journalists, and far-Left Turkish politicians.
The report said the photographs were transferred to a forensics lab and were examined by experts from Hamburg University Hospital. Expert Hans Baumann confirmed the initial suspicion that it is highly probable the eight Kurds died "due to the use of chemical substances."
This is not the first time Turkey is suspected of using chemical weapons, in violation of the international treaty to which it is a signatory. Such suspicions have led German politicians to call for an independent international probe into the matter.
Gisela Penteker, a Turkey expert with the international medical organization International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, noted that Turkey has been suspected of using chemical weapons for years. "Local people have said that again and again," she explained. Finding proof is difficult, however, she said, because bodies were often released so late that it was hardly possible to carry out a thorough autopsy.
Meanwhile, Berlin daily newspaper Die Tageszeitung, also reported that it has obtained additional, shocking pictures, supposedly autopsy photographs of six other killed Kurds.
The paper also reported that the Turkish Foreign Ministry rejected the claims, saying, "Turkey is a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, and its armed forces do not possess any biological or chemical weapons."
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