Syrian Kurdish doctor Akram Naasan, residing in Germany, has formally filed a complaint urging the arrest of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his upcoming visit to Berlin. Naasan accuses Erdoğan of orchestrating Turkish forces’ violations of international law in the 2018 seizure of Afrin in Syria.
Akram Naasan, a Syrian Kurdish doctor living in Germany has filed a complaint calling for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to be arrested during his upcoming visit to Berlin. Naasan alleges that Erdogan’s Turkish forces have committed serious violations of international law after seizing Afrin (Efrîn) in northern Syria in 2018.
In a formal criminal complaint sent to the German Public Prosecutor General on Monday, Naasan said that hundreds of people lost their lives during the Turkish military campaign in Afrin, and his family, along with thousands of fellow citizens, were forced to flee, residing in dire conditions at the Shahba refugee camp near Aleppo.
As evidences of alleged international law violations, Naasan cited changes in town names, closure of Kurdish schools replaced by Turkish ones, and the establishment of illegal prisons where he said systematic torture occurs. He further recounted a personal tragedy, stating that during the Turkish operations, a 28-year-old woman related to him was kidnapped, raped, and taken to Turkey.
The doctor further accused Erdoğan of attempting to alter the region’s demography, asserting that only 20 percent of the Kurdish population remains in Afrin, down from 96 percent before 2018. As evidences of alleged international law violations, Naasan cited changes in town names, closure of Kurdish schools replaced by Turkish ones, and the establishment of illegal prisons where he said systematic torture occurs.
The complaint, endorsed by the Kurdish Community Association in Germany (Kurdische Gemeinde Deutschland) and the Society for Threatened Peoples (Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker), implores the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office to take action against Erdoğan during his scheduled state visit on Monday and hold him accountable for alleged crimes against international humanitarian law.
Erdoğan’s forthcoming visit has sparked controversy, not only for describing Hamas as “liberators fighting for their land”, but also for Turkey’s attacks on Kurdish areas in Syria. While Erdoğan has made accusations of war crimes against Israel in Gaza, Turkey has long been under scrutiny, facing allegations of war crimes for its ongoing attacks on the Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria (AANES), with a focus on civilian infrastructure.
Since Turkey’s takeover of Afrin in 2018, the once peaceful enclave controlled by Kurdish forces has come under the control of various armed groups affiliated with the Turkish army. Reports by international human rights organisations have documented serious violations, including the confiscation of crops, the looting of homes, forced displacement, abductions, and the establishment of military facilities on civilian property.
Turkish authorities continue to deport Syrian refugees from Turkey and resettle them in newly built housing in Syria, as part of what human rights groups say is a strategy to change the demographics of the area. In particular, this controversial strategy includes the Turkification of place names and changes to signage in formerly Kurdish areas under Turkish control.