[JURIST] The New York-based monitoring group Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] sent a letter Wednesday to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan urging Turkey to take steps to ensure that the human rights of the local Kurdish population are protected in the event of any Turkish military operations in northeastern Iraq:
Turkish government statements have made it clear that Turkish forces may be sent into Northern Iraq during the course of any conflict there, in order to ensure that the northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk remain part of the state of Iraq, to protect the Turkomen population in Kirkuk, and to prevent an influx of refugees into Turkey....During the conflict between Turkish security forces and the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) from 1984 to 1999 in southeastern Turkey, Human Rights Watch documented gross human rights violations committed by both sides against civilians and prisoners. State security forces detained thousands of citizens for interrogation under torture. Between 1980 and 2000, more than 400 prisoners died, apparently as a result of torture, at the hands of Turkish police or gendarmes. Security forces emptied large areas of the countryside in the southeast by bombing and burning unarmed peasant settlements. Hundreds of thousands are still displaced. In the early 1990s, the Turkish security forces are believed to have sponsored networks of killers to eliminate hundreds of suspected enemies of the state by gunning them down in the street or making them "disappear." Human Rights Watch is concerned about the potential risks to human rights if very large numbers of Turkish armed forces enter Northern Iraq....Read the complete text of the HRW letter.