We Condemn Zaxo Perex Village Massacre!
21 July 2022
On 20 July 2022, 9 people lost their lives and 23 others were wounded as a result of artillery fire against civilians in a picnic area in Perex village of Zaxo district of Duhok province controlled by the Iraqi Federal Kurdistan Regional Government. We would like to extend our condolences to the families of the victims, the people of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government and wish a speedy recovery to the wounded. We condemn the attack and demand that those responsible be brought to account before the courts without delay.
There are statements by Iraqi government officials and the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government that the attack that led to the massacre in Zaxo’s Perex village was caused by artillery shelling from the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF). Further, the Iraqi government’s statement following an investigation at the scene indicates that the incident was caused by the TAF. At least no information has been disclosed to prove otherwise so far.
The statement released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry regarding this incident is far from reflecting the truth. Turkey consistently tries to gloss over such issues by stating that it does not carry out attacks against civilians in its military operations. Moreover, it is quite meaningful that the TAF, which is engaged in military activities in the region in question, and the Ministry of National Defense, with which it is affiliated, did not make any statements.
In our statement of 21 October 2021, we had stated that the parliament should not approve the Iraq and Syria motions and that the government should return to a policy of peace at home and peace in the world. On the occasion of the Zaxo Perex massacre, we would like to reiterate the following:
- We call for a comprehensive investigation into the civilian deaths as a result of aerial bombings, drone strikes and artillery shelling during Turkey’s military operations in the territory of the Federal Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq and in the areas controlled by the TAF in northern and northeastern Syria, and that this investigation can only be carried out by a parliamentary inquiry commission which must specifically investigate gross human rights and humanitarian law violations committed by paramilitary groups against civilians in regions controlled by the TAF in north and northeast Iraq.
- There are serious allegations about the military operations carried out in the territory of the Federal Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq on the border with Turkey since April 2022. One of the most serious allegations is that many settlements have been bombed and evacuated by intimidating the population, thereby forcibly displacing thousands of people. There are also serious allegations and images of the use of prohibited weapons and bombs. In addition, there are reports that the bodies of some of the TAF soldiers who lost their lives were left in the field and their fate is unknown. All these allegations are very serious. The parliamentary inquiry commission should also investigate these allegations.
- In addition to the commission, the competent chief public prosecutor’s offices in the border region and the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office should conduct effective investigations into the attacks against civilians during military operations, identify gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law and initiate the necessary prosecution processes.
- The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and international human rights organizations should conduct inquiries and fact-finding missions at the incident sites on the allegations of gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law.
- We call on Turkey to withdraw its military forces from Iraq and Syria to within Turkey’s borders by canceling the Iraqi and Syrian mandates adopted in October 2021, and to rebuild a peace process both with these countries and the Kurdish political movement by finding non-military solutions to solve the Kurdish issue through democratic and peaceful means.
We would like to emphasize that we condemn racist/hate speech against Diyarbakır Bar Association and other bar associations along with activists in the region who provided the first democratic response in Turkey based on the statements of Iraqi and Iraqi Federal Kurdistan Regional Government officials in relation to the Zaxo Perex massacre, that the perpetrators of hate attacks should be identified and effective investigation and prosecution processes should be initiated into them, that the Diyarbakır Bar Association is not alone and other bar associations and human rights organizations, especially the Union of Bar Associations, should stand in solidarity with Diyarbakır Bar Association.
The lack of coverage of the Zaxo Perex massacre in Turkey, except for a few dissident media outlets, shows that there is no freedom of the press in Turkey. The fact that the so-called mainstream media sided with the government demonstrates that the minimum principles of press morality and ethics are not functional. Just like in the Roboski Massacre, the Turkish media has once again failed badly by choosing to ignore the incidents and remain silent.
As human rights defenders, we would like to state once again that we are determined to continue our struggle for justice and peace so that gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law do not go unpunished, and that those who perpetrate massacres such as the Zaxo Perex massacre must be held accountable before justice.
Human Rights Association