“Universal law by tradition commands that the systematic crimes committed freely by Turkey and which undoubtedly fall under the category of crimes against humanity are not subject to a statute of limitations, and nor can they call for immunity against prosecution,” writes Ferda Çetin for Yeni Özgür Politika.
The Turkish state carried out simultaneous airstrikes in Rojava’s [northeast Syria] Derik, the mountain region of Sinjar in South Kurdistan [Iraqi Kurdistan], Serdest, Gelîye Kersê, Şilo, Çilmera and Barê [in Sinjar], and the Makhmur Refugee Camp, the night before last.
These attacks were in response to the defeat of ISIS [Islamic State] gangs, who are under Turkish protection and control, in Haseke. The Kurdish officials and politicians emphasised this widely after the attacks.
It’s not due to Turkey’s own capacity that it is able to use the Syrian and Iraqi airspace whenever it wishes. These attacks are carried out with the approval and support of the United Nations, the United States, Russia and the European Union.
These states are complicit, by their approval and silence, in Turkey’s cross border attacks conducted against the Kurdish people, in violation of other states’ sovereignty. This is the most important issue calling for attention.
Why and how do the United Nations, the United States, Iraq, Russia, Syria and the European Union give silent approval as Turkish war planes bomb Derik, Shengal and Makhmur in operations that constitute crimes against humanity?
The systematic Turkish attacks targeting Rojava, Makhmur and Shengal can be, without doubt, defined as ‘crimes against humanity.’
The term ‘crimes against humanity’ was first used as a legal term after the First World War in a joint declaration by Britain, France and Russia for the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and for incidents related to it in violation of international humanitarian law.
Crimes against humanity, alongside ‘war crimes’ and ‘crimes against peace’ (currently referred to as crimes of aggression) was later included in the sixth article of the Charter of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal established after the London Agreement.
According to the definition in the Rome Statute, an action needs only to be committed on a wide scale and systematically in order to be categorised as a crime against humanity.
The concept of such an action being committed systematically were defined in rulings by the Yugoslavian and Rwandan courts.
The concept ‘systematic’ is crucial in these definitions for its exclusion of similar actions of coincidental nature, and has been interpreted to define actions that follow a certain pattern and course.
In the light of these definitions, Turkey’s attacks targeting Rojava, Makhmur and Shengal fall under the category of wide scale and systematic attacks.
It is a historical tendency to avoid impunity for an international crime in cases when the interests of the whole international community are concerned. For this reason, it has been accepted that all states have the right to charge perpetrators of international crimes; in other words, the trials of such crimes call for a ‘universal judicial authority’.
The Yugoslavian and Rwandan International Criminal Courts, based on the seventh chapter of the United Nations Charter, by status, and the International Criminal Tribunal, based on the Rome Statute dated 1998, by principal, were established essentially to avoid impunity for international crimes.
Thus universal law by tradition commands that the systematic crimes committed freely by Turkey and which undoubtedly fall under the category of crimes against humanity are not subject to a statute of limitations, and nor can they call for immunity against prosecution.
The fact that Turkey has not signed the aforementioned agreements and statutes does not mean that it will not face trial over its crimes against humanity, or that the current ‘international impunity’ it’s been granted will continue forever.
The United Nations, the United States, Russia and the European Union who currently provide this impunity may tomorrow decide to lift it, and the rights of Iraq and Syria, who remain silent for the time being, may file legal complaints against Turkey and may place Turkey in the courtroom, indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
It is obvious that Tayyip Erdoğan [Turkish president], Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu [foreign minister], Hulusi Akar [defence minister] and Hakan Fidan [head of the Turkish national intelligence agency] are trying to fortify their authority on the bombs that they have been dropping on the Kurds.
Yet there is another fact: The dictators and their lackeys all over the world have always traded all their luxury and comfort for a single one-way ticket to the country where they will seek refuge.