Kurdish protesters storm chemical weapons body’s HQ

Published December 4, 2021
Policemen detain a man after a group of protesters, some of them carrying flags of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, demonstrated near the premises of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on Friday.—AFP
Policemen detain a man after a group of protesters, some of them carrying flags of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, demonstrated near the premises of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on Friday.—AFP

THE HAGUE: Dutch police arrested 50 people on Friday after Kurdish demonstrators alleging that Turkey is using chemical weapons in northern Iraq broke into the headquarters of the global toxic arms watchdog. Protesters got past security to enter the grounds of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague and staged a noisy rally outside the building’s front doors.

Police dragged the demonstrators off one by one, put them on the ground and handcuffed them. Some were bundled into waiting vans, but the large number meant many were taken away in a hired bus.

At least a dozen police vehicles sealed off the road outside the OPCW, which is opposite Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s official residence. Several ambulances and a medical helicopter were also at the scene.

“Around 50 demonstrators have been arrested and transferred to a police location,” a spokesman for The Hague police said.

Britain’s delegation at the body said it was “deeply concerned to see protesters break into (the) OPCW” and thanked police for the “swift response”.

It said evidence on chemical weapons used “should be submitted to OPCW through appropriate channels.” Turkey denies using chemical weapons in its conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2021

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