‘We will look into it’: Amnesty on RT’s #JusticeForKurds petition after Moscow’s reproach

© Sertac Kayar
Amnesty International has promised to examine the facts outlined in RT’s petition calling for a probe into alleged mass killings of Kurdish civilians by the Turkish military after the NGO’s “selective” approach was criticized by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The global charity will “comment on this issue” once it obtains “more up-to-date research findings,” a spokesperson of the Amnesty International press officer Clarisse Douaud told RT in an emailed statement, adding that the organization “has not seen this petition” so far.

In the meantime, the NGO says that it actively monitors the situation in the field of human rights violations in Turkey’s southeast, and has repeatedly called on Ankara to stop the crackdown on Kurds in the region.

“Amnesty International actively looks into the worrying situation in the field of human rights in the southeastern Turkey and we speak audibly about it,” a spokesman for the organization told TASS on Friday.

“For several months, Amnesty International urged the Turkish government to lift disproportionate restrictions on freedom of movement, including 24 hour curfews and other arbitrary measures that deprived the [local] population of access to medical aid, food, water and electricity…” the spokesman added.

Meanwhile, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) said speaking publicly of "extreme acts of violence" is "not the primary mission of the organization."

"Regarding the situation in south east Turkey, MSF does not have a team in the area, thus do not have the capacity to assess the situation on the ground," the international humanitarian-aid NGO's representative in Turkey, Aitor Zabalgogeazkoa told RT in a written statement.

"MSF's principle is not to comment on any situation without directly bearing witness and MSF not being a human rights organization, does not conduct such investigation," its representative added, saying that the organization has received the reports of the situation in southeastern Turkey and "is concerned about the reports of population not being able to reach medical assistance."

The response from Amnesty International follows Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s harsh criticism of its inaction which she voiced earlier on Friday. She accused the charity of employing an “ambiguous and selective” policy in dealing with human rights violations.

READ MORE: Moscow slams ‘selective’ human rights approach, urges impartial probe of Kurds’ plight in Turkey

The Russian Foreign Ministry “took a close look at materials presented by RT channel” that demonstrate the aftermath of Turkey’s so-called anti-terrorist operation in the city of Cizre and the Sur district, Zakharova said in an official statement which insisted that “any documented reports about brutal and massive human rights and international law violations should be thoroughly investigated.”

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also called for an investigation into reports of massive human rights abuse in south-eastern Turkey against Kurdish nationals.

Before the ministry rebuked Amnesty International for inaction, on March 11, the charity simply refused to give any comments on the issue in response to another request from RT International. “We will not be able to comment on this at this time and must decline your offer,” a spokesperson from the organization replied to RT.

On March 17, RT launched a petition calling for a UNHRC-led investigation into claims of alleged massacre of Kurds by the Turkish military during Ankara’s crackdown in the country's southeast. It is based on materials that an RT crew recorded as it visited Cizre in Turkey’s Sirnak province following reports of a brutal military crackdown on the civilian population in the area.

According to the February reports, the crackdown involved murdering hundreds of civilians trapped in basements with some 150 people being burned to death.

Apart from Amnesty International and MSF, the footage shot by RT journalists in Cizre has been submitted to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The ICRC told RT they cannot investigate the issue as they do not have an office in Turkey while the OHCHR only offered a press-release from February 1.