BERLIN — A group of German politicians and public figures have filed a lawsuit against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accusing him of war crimes in the Turkish military’s ongoing operations against Kurdish groups in the country’s southeast.
“Our clients consider it a moral duty to bring charges for systematic war crimes in Turkey here in the Federal Republic [Germany] as is possible according to the Code on International Criminal Law,” said lawyers for the group, Britta Eder and Petra Dervishaj, in the complaint filed with the Federal Prosecutor.
The suit claims that Turkey committed war crimes in Kurdish areas of the country, particularly in the city of Cizre where civilians taking shelter in basements were found burned, some perhaps burned alive.
In addition to Erdogan, the complaint also names former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Interior Minister Efkan Ala, other government officials as well as members of the military and police.
The group filing the suit includes actor Rolf Becker, songwriter Konstantin Wecker, Left Party lawmaker Ulla Jelpke as well as other members of the Left Party, lawyers and human rights representatives. Lawyers for the group say that two survivors of war crimes in Turkey and a Turkish MP from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) are also included in the suit.
Jelpke said Germany needs to put pressure on Erdogan rather than being afraid to jeopardize the EU-Turkey migrant deal.
Under German law, it is possible to file a suit in domestic courts for crimes committed outside of German territory. “The purpose of this principle is to prevent war crimes and crimes against humanity from going unpunished, no matter where the crime is committed,” the lawyers filing the suit stated.