New allegations on mine use by the Turkish armed forces suggests that independent verification missions are imperative
19 April 2010
Official Turkish documents published by the Turkish Newspaper Taraf daily confirm that the armed forces planted anti-personnel (AP) mines in South East Turkey in April 2009. The Turkish Government had previously accused the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK) of having planted these landmines. The PKK signed the Deed of Commitment under Geneva Call for a total ban on anti-personnel mines and for cooperation in mine action in 2006.
The mines caused the death of seven soldiers and injured eight others in May 2009. In December, a former Gendarmerie officer claimed that this incident has been caused by landmines planted by the Turkish armed forces and that he had been forced to attribute it to the PKK. In April 2010, after having conducted an investigation into the blast, the Van Chief Public Prosecutor’s office indeed concluded that the landmines had been planted by the Turkish armed forces.
In the face of the allegations against the PKK, Geneva Call has repeatedly proposed to conduct a verification mission, but this was always ignored by the authorities, whereas the PKK welcomed the offer.
Today Geneva Call reiterates its request that, when there are allegations of AP mine use by the PKK, an independent verification mission determine whether banned AP mines were indeed used, and if possible, to determine responsibilities.
In 2008, the Philippines government noted that devices, banned both by the Ottawa treaty and the Deed of Commitment, had been used in Mindanao, and alleged that these had been planted by the MILF. Both parties, the government and the MILF, welcomed an independent verification mission, led by Geneva Call.
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