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Campaigners launch week of action demanding freedom of Kurds held after chemical weapons protest in Netherlands

CAMPAIGNERS began a week of action today for the release of protesters held in the Netherlands after they occupied the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) building briefly in December.

About 50 people staged a sit-in at the end of the chemical watchdog’s annual conference in The Hague last month, in protest against its failure to investigate the alleged use of banned munitions by Turkey in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Police responded with violence, allegedly breaking the arm of one of the protesters while another was left with a broken nose. 

At least four people were hospitalised as a result of the attempts to remove them from the conference floor.

A total of 44 people were hauled into custody and held for several days and will appear before a judge next month. At least one person has been deported from the Netherlands.

But four protesters, who are Kurdish, remain behind bars in detention centres across the Netherlands and will remain there until the court hearing opens on February 23.

“This says everything about the systematic racism of the Dutch state — white activists are generally quickly released after similar actions,” organisers Radical Solidarity told the Morning Star.

“We condemn the excessive police violence in the name of the Dutch state and oppose these ridiculous legal cases.”

Dutch authorities are accused of criminalising the just cause while the OPCW continues to ignore demands for an investigation into Turkey’s actions in Iraqi Kurdistan.

“This is a political case,” campaigners insisted as they highlighted the OPCW’s role as an instrument of state power.

The Star first reported on the alleged use of chemical weapons in May, which led to calls for a commission of inquiry in Turkey’s Grand Assembly.

Ankara denies the use of banned munitions during its illegal war and occupation of Iraqi sovereign territory, which has entered its ninth month.

But the Star has visited the affected region and interviewed dozens of people displaying symptoms that could be attributed to exposure to chemicals.

Medics claim that local security forces seized an initial report that said patients had been treated for symptoms resulting from a chemical attack amid accusations of a cover-up. 

Radical Solidarity backed the calls for an investigation and called on the European Union, the Netherlands and the OPCW to break their silence.

“We demand release of all political prisoners and support the OPCW protesters’ demand for an independent investigation into the use of chemical weapons by Turkey,” it said.

The group called for banner drops, protests at Dutch embassies and for people to write letters of solidarity to the detainees, which can be sent via [email protected]


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