On 20 July 2022 as a result of lethal artillery fire in Zakho district of the province of Dohuk within the boundaries of Iraqi Federal Kurdistan Region, 9 civilians including 2 children were killed and at least 22 people were injured. We deeply deplore the incident, remember the lost souls and wish quick recovery for the injured.
This massacre has once again laid bare the need to safeguard the fundamental principles enshrined in the humanitarian law regarding the protection of civilians. In this context we would like to once again remind Article 3 of the Geneva Convention which constitutes the essence of the humanitarian law. “In case of an armed conflict, all parties to the conflict, either a state or not, shall be bound by the provisions of international humanitarian law and are obligated to comply with these provisions.” “In view of protecting the civilians, parties to the conflict shall discriminate between the civilian people and the fighters at all times. Civilian population or civilian persons shall not be targeted.”
According to this principle frequently referred to also in Article 8 regulating war crimes in the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court and to which Turkey is still not a party, the aim is to prevent civilians from being harmed regardless of the status of the warring parties.
In the aftermath of this deplorable attack, we are following the official statement of the Republic of Iraq and its complaint to the United Nations Security Council against Turkey. We also observe the sensitivity in the Iraqi Government caused by the different ethnic origin of the incident victims. Based on the principle that the right to life of every human being should be defended regardless of the nationality and ethnic origin of the perpetrators or the victims, and unlike similar incidents such as the Roboski massacre, this incident should be addressed by all parties diligently and with sensitivity and those responsible must be held accountable by carrying out effective investigation and prosecution processes and sharing their results with the public opinion in a transparent manner.
We also condemn the lynching hate rhetoric directed at Diyarbakır Bar Association, which has shown the first democratic reaction from Turkey in the face of this incident and used their freedom of expression, and at the other regional bars as well as anyone of the same mentality.
It remains urgent that a swift and comprehensive investigation be undertaken as regards the incident in order to unearth the conditions encircling this attack and to ensure accountability. We call on international community to cooperate in the establishment of an independent investigation team and in bringing the perpetrators to light to prevent that no harm befalls on other civilians, and the United Nations to establish a mission to investigate the incident.
Human Rights Joint Platform (İHOP)