Turk Bombings and Civilian Casualties in Northern Iraq

Hundreds of Iraqi Kurds hold up torches

Iraqi Kurds hold up torches as they protest to denounce Turkey's latest bombing campaign on Kurdish separatist bases in northern Iraq. (Shawn Mohammed/AFP/Getty Images)

In the early afternoon of August 21, 2011 Hussain Mostafa Hassan, a 61-year-old Kurdish farmer from the village of Bolle near Mount Qandil on the Iraq-Iran border, was heading to the town of Rania, accompanied by six members of his family, when the car he was driving was bombed, reportedly by a warplane belonging to the Turkish armed forces.

Hussain Mostafa Hassan, his 43-year-old wife, Mer Haci Mam Kak, his daughter Rezan Hussain Mostafa, aged 20, together with her two daughters Sonia Shamal Hassan, aged two, and Sholin Shamel Hassan, aged six months, his son Zana Hussain Mostafa, aged 11, and his niece Oskar Khuzer Hassan, aged 10, all died as a result. Later their burnt bodies were taken to a hospital in Rania and buried the same day.

The Turkish Kurdish separatist group the PKK, which has been labeled a terrorist organization by both the EU and the U.S., had killed 40 Turkish security force members in previous days, and the Turkish military was bombing them in retaliation.  On August 24th, the Iraqi government formally protested the seven civilian deaths and demanded an immediate halt to the air strikes along its northern border.

Amnesty International called on the Turkish authorities to open a prompt, thorough and independent investigation into the incident. Two days later, the Turkish military responded that not only were no civilians targeted, but, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the pictures showing the dead civilians “were made up for PKK propaganda.”

Despite the Turkish military’s denials, Amnesty International stands by its call for a thorough investigation.  Seven innocent people were blown apart during Turkey’s incursion into Iraq; someone has to be held responsible for this violation of humanitarian law.

AIUSA welcomes a lively and courteous discussion that follow our Community Guidelines. Comments are not pre-screened before they post but AIUSA reserves the right to remove any comments violating our guidelines.

12 thoughts on “Turk Bombings and Civilian Casualties in Northern Iraq

  1. William Jones, you wrote:

    "the Turkish Kurdish separatist group the PKK has been labeled a terrorist organization by both the EU and the U.S."

    How, I wonder, does attacking and killing 40 Turkish combat soldiers fall under the term "terrorism"? Amnesty has always held that in every other conflict such as Iraqi attacks against American Army, Kashmiri attacks against the Indian Army, Palestinian attacks against the Israeli Army that under International Laws of War during an armed conflict it is completely legal to attack armed combat soldiers on active duty of the opposing side and this does not in any way constitute terrorism. Why is it suddenly "terrorism" to kill armed combat soldiers only in the case of Kurdistan fight for freedom from Turkish oppression according to Amnesty International but not in any of the the other cases I mentioned? Why does Turkey deserve this special treatment?

    Does this designation of "terrorist" then bestow on, according to Amnesty International, the Turkish Air Forces the absolute right to invade sovereign Iraqi territory and indiscriminately with reckless indifference to innocent civilian casualties ( a war crime under the Geneva convention), bomb villages also full of Kurdish civilians at will any time. any where, just because they supposedly "suspect" PKK terrorists are hiding there?

    Does this mean, forgetting for the moment about the PKK and the fact that they are indeed horrific terrorists killers I fully agree, does this mean that the underlying cause of a free and independent Kurdistan on their ancestral homeland is invalid just because the PKK are in fact themselves barbaric terrorists?

    I remind you that the Kurds, irrespective of disgusting PKK terrorism, like all peoples have the inalienable right to self determination and to one day regain all their stolen property which includes hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of territory currently illegally occupied by Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. All of these countries according to extensive Amnesty International investigative reports have viciously cruelty oppressed the Kurdish people and made clear attempts of commit cultural genocide on the Kurds by attempting to wipe out their culture and language. Massacres even with chemical weapons on unarmed civilians, rapes, torture arrest and disappearances, all as punishment for crimes such as insisting to teaching their children Kurdish language or giving them Kurdish names, all this fully documented by Amnesty International.

    William Jones:
    You also realize of course that the European Union, the United States, Canada, Israel and Japan all also classify Hamas in Gaza as a terrorist organization. Yet Amnesty has repeatedly condemned any Israeli use of self defense against Hamas to defend Israeli civilians from 10s of thousands of random rocket terror attacks deliberately shot approximately towards civilian Israeli towns full of Israeli women and children.

    And how is this fair then that Amnesty on the one hand seems to totally excuse any and all Turkish Air Forces attack on PKK terrorists because the US and EU consider them terrorist, yet at the same time Amnesty always condemns Israel for exercising legitimate self defense of its citizens against Hamas terrorists, even a passive non-violent move like imposing a legal naval blockade to prevent this terror group from importing by sea heavy Iranian missiles, even though Hamas is also considered, exactly like the PKK, to be a terrorist group by the US, EU, Japan and Canada ?

    thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

  2. Thanks for the questions. Let me try and answer at least some of them.
    "Terrorist designation of PKK": Amnesty does not use the term "terrorist" in describing groups, and tries to comment on human rights violations committed by them–or by states and other actors. I had added the fact that the U.S. and EU have designated the PKK as a "terrorist" organization only for informational purposes–in retrospect, it might have been more effective to have left that piece of information out. (As well as the well-worn phrase "separatist group", again added for readers of the blog who have perhaps never heard of the PKK). I certainly had no intention of labeling the killing of Turkish soldiers as a "terrorist act"; the whole thrust of the blog (and Amnesty's public statement upon which it was based) was to call for an independent investigation of the killing of a family of innocent civilians. As for Amnesty totally excusing the Turkish air strikes inside Iraqi territory: Amnesty has not yet issued a statement on this incursion. How does this lead to the conclusion that "Amnesty totally excuses any and all Turkish Air forces attacks on PKK terrorists"? Amnesty has repeatedly campaigned against military violations of Kurdish human rights and will continue to do so. I find your conclusion rather ironic; every time I visit Turkey I am confronted with accusations that Amnesty is biased against the Turkish government and security forces and is obviously pro-Kurdish.

    Amnesty's purported bias against Israel: I am not a specialist on Israel and the Occupied Territories, but from the Amnesty statements I am familiar with, the organization attempts to condemn equally human rights violations by both sides in the conflict. Our Israeli and Occupied Territories Specialist at AIUSA at the time of Israel's incursion into Lebanon to stop the rocket attacks coming from their on Israeli cities went to Israel to document during the war to document the human rights violations caused by the rockets. Amnesty issued a report detailing both the use of cluster bombs by the Israelis and the human rights violations that took place in Israel. Those two reports were roundly condemned by both sides in the conflict as being biased. –Again, Israel is not part of my expertise; but if you wish I can put you in touch with our Country Specialist who works on Israel and the Occupied Territories.
    –I hope this answers at least some of your questions. Regards, Bill Jones, Turkey Coordination Group, AIUSA

  3. William Jones, you wrote:

    “the Turkish Kurdish separatist group the PKK has been labeled a terrorist organization by both the EU and the U.S.”

    How, I wonder, does attacking and killing 40 Turkish combat soldiers fall under the term “terrorism”? Amnesty has always held that in every other conflict such as Iraqi attacks against American Army, Kashmiri attacks against the Indian Army, Palestinian attacks against the Israeli Army that under International Laws of War during an armed conflict it is completely legal to attack armed combat soldiers on active duty of the opposing side and this does not in any way constitute terrorism. Why is it suddenly “terrorism” to kill armed combat soldiers only in the case of Kurdistan fight for freedom from Turkish oppression according to Amnesty International but not in any of the the other cases I mentioned? Why does Turkey deserve this special treatment?

    Does this designation of “terrorist” then bestow on, according to Amnesty International, the Turkish Air Forces the absolute right to invade sovereign Iraqi territory and indiscriminately with reckless indifference to innocent civilian casualties ( a war crime under the Geneva convention), bomb villages also full of Kurdish civilians at will any time. any where, just because they supposedly “suspect” PKK terrorists are hiding there?

    Does this mean, forgetting for the moment about the PKK and the fact that they are indeed horrific terrorists killers I fully agree, does this mean that the underlying cause of a free and independent Kurdistan on their ancestral homeland is invalid just because the PKK are in fact themselves barbaric terrorists?

    I remind you that the Kurds, irrespective of disgusting PKK terrorism, like all peoples have the inalienable right to self determination and to one day regain all their stolen property which includes hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of territory currently illegally occupied by Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. All of these countries according to extensive Amnesty International investigative reports have viciously cruelty oppressed the Kurdish people and made clear attempts of commit cultural genocide on the Kurds by attempting to wipe out their culture and language. Massacres even with chemical weapons on unarmed civilians, rapes, torture arrest and disappearances, all as punishment for crimes such as insisting to teaching their children Kurdish language or giving them Kurdish names, all this fully documented by Amnesty International.

    William Jones:
    You also realize of course that the European Union, the United States, Canada, Israel and Japan all also classify Hamas in Gaza as a terrorist organization. Yet Amnesty has repeatedly condemned any Israeli use of self defense against Hamas to defend Israeli civilians from 10s of thousands of random rocket terror attacks deliberately shot approximately towards civilian Israeli towns full of Israeli women and children.

    And how is this fair then that Amnesty on the one hand seems to totally excuse any and all Turkish Air Forces attack on PKK terrorists because the US and EU consider them terrorist, yet at the same time Amnesty always condemns Israel for exercising legitimate self defense of its citizens against Hamas terrorists, even a passive non-violent move like imposing a legal naval blockade to prevent this terror group from importing by sea heavy Iranian missiles, even though Hamas is also considered, exactly like the PKK, to be a terrorist group by the US, EU, Japan and Canada ?

    thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

  4. Thanks for the questions. Let me try and answer at least some of them.
    “Terrorist designation of PKK”: Amnesty does not use the term “terrorist” in describing groups, and tries to comment on human rights violations committed by them–or by states and other actors. I had added the fact that the U.S. and EU have designated the PKK as a “terrorist” organization only for informational purposes–in retrospect, it might have been more effective to have left that piece of information out. (As well as the well-worn phrase “separatist group”, again added for readers of the blog who have perhaps never heard of the PKK). I certainly had no intention of labeling the killing of Turkish soldiers as a “terrorist act”; the whole thrust of the blog (and Amnesty’s public statement upon which it was based) was to call for an independent investigation of the killing of a family of innocent civilians. As for Amnesty totally excusing the Turkish air strikes inside Iraqi territory: Amnesty has not yet issued a statement on this incursion. How does this lead to the conclusion that “Amnesty totally excuses any and all Turkish Air forces attacks on PKK terrorists”? Amnesty has repeatedly campaigned against military violations of Kurdish human rights and will continue to do so. I find your conclusion rather ironic; every time I visit Turkey I am confronted with accusations that Amnesty is biased against the Turkish government and security forces and is obviously pro-Kurdish.

    Amnesty’s purported bias against Israel: I am not a specialist on Israel and the Occupied Territories, but from the Amnesty statements I am familiar with, the organization attempts to condemn equally human rights violations by both sides in the conflict. Our Israeli and Occupied Territories Specialist at AIUSA at the time of Israel’s incursion into Lebanon to stop the rocket attacks coming from their on Israeli cities went to Israel to document during the war to document the human rights violations caused by the rockets. Amnesty issued a report detailing both the use of cluster bombs by the Israelis and the human rights violations that took place in Israel. Those two reports were roundly condemned by both sides in the conflict as being biased. –Again, Israel is not part of my expertise; but if you wish I can put you in touch with our Country Specialist who works on Israel and the Occupied Territories.
    –I hope this answers at least some of your questions. Regards, Bill Jones, Turkey Coordination Group, AIUSA

  5. & yet again Judonimh uses a completely DIFFERENT issue to raise Israel's agenda, Israel's cause, Israel's flag…. to attack countries on Israel's black list …. in this case Turkey.

    He uses Amnesty's reporting of a version of reality ( PKK called "terrorist" by EU, US ) to say AI subscribes to the version… NOT the SAME thing.

    AI is showing the story from both ends, to be balanced.

    Judonimh KNOWS this .. but still heats up the rhetorics just to wave the "Star of David" over Turkey & this blog.

    In fact Mr. Jones never uses "terrorism" labels to justify Turkey's attack …. which is what Israel ACTUALLY does when striking Gaza & the Occupied Territories.

    Judonimh becomes the Kurds' champion against Turkey .

    Why then his silence on Turkey's use against these same Kurds of lethal Heron aerial drones supplied to her by Israel ??

    Kurds are "great business" for Israel indeed !

    On the one hand, Israel can sell Herons to bomb 'em …

    On the other, Israel can USE 'em ( just as Judonimh does here ) to denounce Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran … all countries past or present targets in Israel's drive for MidEast dominance …

    Extra bonus —- Israel can even show herself to uphold ( wonder of wonders !! ) "the inalienable rights of all peoples to self determination" —-. Israel , the biggest continuous trampler & denier of that same Right in the MidEast !!

    Such bouts of geopolitical PR recall Britain & T. E. Lawrence's manipulation of the subjugated Arabs against Ottoman Turkey… a manipulation purely in the British Empire's own interests… a manipulation that resulted in today's divided, weak & corrupt Middle East.

    Beware of your newfound friends, ye oppressed, lest ye play their recurrent games !!

  6. Moral of the first stone caster :

    Blame not others for what you do yourselves.

    & why blame the bearer of the news, when it's not his place but your own that's among the condemned, in the eyes of the world ?

  7. Of course Savage rejects the right to self determination for the Kurds and nothing better exemplifies his massive hypocrisy and puts more to ridicule his positions.

    Because you see, Savage supports indigenous people's struggles only when he disapproves of the countries they are trying to liberate themselves from.

    When it comes for example to his favorite countries, all of whom happen to be the worst most racist bigoted offenders of human rights of minorities on earth , namely Iran and Syria et al, suddenly he oppose the rights of the Kurds to self determination on their ancestral homelands.

  8. & yet again Judonimh uses a completely DIFFERENT issue to raise Israel’s agenda, Israel’s cause, Israel’s flag…. to attack countries on Israel’s black list …. in this case Turkey.

    He uses Amnesty’s reporting of a version of reality ( PKK called “terrorist” by EU, US ) to say AI subscribes to the version… NOT the SAME thing.

    AI is showing the story from both ends, to be balanced.

    Judonimh KNOWS this .. but still heats up the rhetorics just to wave the “Star of David” over Turkey & this blog.

    In fact Mr. Jones never uses “terrorism” labels to justify Turkey’s attack …. which is what Israel ACTUALLY does when striking Gaza & the Occupied Territories.

    Judonimh becomes the Kurds’ champion against Turkey .

    Why then his silence on Turkey’s use against these same Kurds of lethal Heron aerial drones supplied to her by Israel ??

    Kurds are “great business” for Israel indeed !

    On the one hand, Israel can sell Herons to bomb ‘em …

    On the other, Israel can USE ‘em ( just as Judonimh does here ) to denounce Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran … all countries past or present targets in Israel’s drive for MidEast dominance …

    Extra bonus —- Israel can even show herself to uphold ( wonder of wonders !! ) “the inalienable rights of all peoples to self determination” —-. Israel , the biggest continuous trampler & denier of that same Right in the MidEast !!

    Such bouts of geopolitical PR recall Britain & T. E. Lawrence’s manipulation of the subjugated Arabs against Ottoman Turkey… a manipulation purely in the British Empire’s own interests… a manipulation that resulted in today’s divided, weak & corrupt Middle East.

    Beware of your newfound friends, ye oppressed, lest ye play their recurrent games !!

  9. Moral of the first stone caster :

    Blame not others for what you do yourselves.

    & why blame the bearer of the news, when it’s not his place but your own that’s among the condemned, in the eyes of the world ?

  10. Of course Savage rejects the right to self determination for the Kurds and nothing better exemplifies his massive hypocrisy and puts more to ridicule his positions.

    Because you see, Savage supports indigenous people’s struggles only when he disapproves of the countries they are trying to liberate themselves from.

    When it comes for example to his favorite countries, all of whom happen to be the worst most racist bigoted offenders of human rights of minorities on earth , namely Iran and Syria et al, suddenly he oppose the rights of the Kurds to self determination on their ancestral homelands.

  11. How does Judonimh conclude i DON'T support the Kurds' struggle in Syria or Iran ?

    i don't know …. for i NEVER said i DON'T.

    Let me say it clear — i wholeheartedly support the Kurds against Turkey, Iraq, Syria, & Iran.

    What i condemn here is Judonimh's USE of the Kurd issue to attack Syria & Iran BECAUSE these countries are on ISRAEL'S black list …. a DIFFERENT matter altogether.

    i condemn the above states on the Kurd issue ( among others ) because i support the KURDS THEMSELVES…. NOT because i'm playing a Big Power game in their region in the interests of any particular Power(s).

    Judonimh attacks Turkey, Syria & Iran PRECISELY BECAUSE they're on Israel's hit list today.

    He champions Kurd selfdetermination in these countries BECAUSE it suits Israel's strategic aims & interests to weaken or topple the regimes over there.

    To repeat : i support the Kurds for THEIR sake …. he, in ISRAEL'S interests .

    Is this true ?

    See the symptoms.

    ********

    1. Israel's relations with Turkey have reached their LOWEST ever.

    Because of Israel's Massacre of 9 Turkish civilian activists on the Turkish aid ship, the Mavi Marmara.And because Turkey JUSTLY demands that Israel apologize for this one- sided, unprovoked massacre. ( On the Mavi Marmara issue, i support Turkey — on the Kurd issue, i oppose Turkey. )

    2. Judonimh completely dodges my point about Israel's complicity ( before the breakup of relations ) in Turkey's war on the Kurds in supplying Israeli Heron drones used by Turkey in aerial strikes on the Kurds.

    Not a word from him on this.

    3. Judonimh a "supporter" of selfdetermination for MINORITIES ?? … when he's a complete & unconditional mouthpiece of the self – styled "JEWISH STATE OF ISRAEL" … a state of & for Jews alone ? ? ?

    4. Judonimh's silent about WHOM enables Turkey's bombardments of the Kurds….. Israel's own backer, the USA.

    American – made F – 14s & F – 16s packed to the teeth with ammo … that's what the Turks have been flying against the Kurds in Iraq.

    Conclusion : Support a People's struggle for liberation for THEIR OWN sake … NOT for the interests of any EXPANDING POWER which supports such a people solely to further its own designs in the region.

    Don't be a puppet in another's game.

    Free yourself … Free the People.

  12. How does Judonimh conclude i DON’T support the Kurds’ struggle in Syria or Iran ?

    i don’t know …. for i NEVER said i DON’T.

    Let me say it clear — i wholeheartedly support the Kurds against Turkey, Iraq, Syria, & Iran.

    What i condemn here is Judonimh’s USE of the Kurd issue to attack Syria & Iran BECAUSE these countries are on ISRAEL’S black list …. a DIFFERENT matter altogether.

    i condemn the above states on the Kurd issue ( among others ) because i support the KURDS THEMSELVES…. NOT because i’m playing a Big Power game in their region in the interests of any particular Power(s).

    Judonimh attacks Turkey, Syria & Iran PRECISELY BECAUSE they’re on Israel’s hit list today.

    He champions Kurd selfdetermination in these countries BECAUSE it suits Israel’s strategic aims & interests to weaken or topple the regimes over there.

    To repeat : i support the Kurds for THEIR sake …. he, in ISRAEL’S interests .

    Is this true ?

    See the symptoms.

    ********

    1. Israel’s relations with Turkey have reached their LOWEST ever.

    Because of Israel’s Massacre of 9 Turkish civilian activists on the Turkish aid ship, the Mavi Marmara.And because Turkey JUSTLY demands that Israel apologize for this one- sided, unprovoked massacre. ( On the Mavi Marmara issue, i support Turkey — on the Kurd issue, i oppose Turkey. )

    2. Judonimh completely dodges my point about Israel’s complicity ( before the breakup of relations ) in Turkey’s war on the Kurds in supplying Israeli Heron drones used by Turkey in aerial strikes on the Kurds.

    Not a word from him on this.

    3. Judonimh a “supporter” of selfdetermination for MINORITIES ?? … when he’s a complete & unconditional mouthpiece of the self – styled “JEWISH STATE OF ISRAEL” … a state of & for Jews alone ? ? ?

    4. Judonimh’s silent about WHOM enables Turkey’s bombardments of the Kurds….. Israel’s own backer, the USA.

    American – made F – 14s & F – 16s packed to the teeth with ammo … that’s what the Turks have been flying against the Kurds in Iraq.

    Conclusion : Support a People’s struggle for liberation for THEIR OWN sake … NOT for the interests of any EXPANDING POWER which supports such a people solely to further its own designs in the region.

    Don’t be a puppet in another’s game.

    Free yourself … Free the People.