Protecting civilians in armed conflict
< Back to the other News

Turkey: The Kongra Gel/HPG – also known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – pledges to renounce the use of anti-personnel mines

18th July 2006 | Turkey - Landmine ban

The Kongra-Gel/HPG Pledges to Renounce the Use of Anti-personnel Mines

Geneva – 18 July 2006

The Kurdistan People’s Congress (Kongra Gel)/People’s Defence Forces (HPG), also known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has committed to a total ban on antipersonnel (AP) mines in signing the Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment.

“Our organization has been discussing the issue of landmines for several years. We have now decided to stop using AP mines because we realized that this coward weapon is against our struggle and principles” said Zubeyir Aydar, President of the Kongra-Gel. “AP mines affect civilians and cause irreparable damage, often long after fighting is over” added Fehman Hüseyin, HPG Commander. “Our strategy is to employ discriminate weapons only. This is why we use command-detonated devices, no longer AP mines.”

Several thousands of people have been killed or injured by mines.The Kongra-Gel/HPG, (also known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) ) has been waging an armed struggle against the Turkish State since 1984. Both parties used mines, particularly in the predominantly Kurdish areas in the southeast of the country. In addition, borders with Syria, Iraq, Iran and Armenia have also been mined by the Turkish army. The Republic of Turkey acceded to the Ottawa Convention in 2003.

“Given the current situation of active fighting and no prospect of peace, this decision from the Kongra-Gel/HPG to renounce the use of AP mines is significant” said Geneva Call President, Elisabeth Reusse-Decrey. “It reflects the will of the Kongra-Gel/HPG to commit itself to respect certain rules of behaviour during warfare and to spare civilians from the effects of landmines. We will follow up the implementation of this humanitarian commitment and we call upon the Government of Turkey to facilitate our work on the ground.”

Geneva Call is an international humanitarian organisation dedicated to engaging non-state armed groups in mine action. It provides a mechanism, complementary to the Ottawa Convention, by which these groups can adhere to the ban on AP mines through their signature of the Deed of Commitment. Anti-vehicle mines are not banned under the Deed of Commitment, provided they are not victim-activated. To date, with the Kongra-Gel/HPG, 29 armed groups have signed the
Deed of Commitment.