The Permanent Peoples' Tribunal, which met in Paris on the 15th and 16th of March, to oversee a symbolic indictment against the state of Turkey released its verdict on Thursday. "The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is directly responsible for the war crimes and the state crimes committed, particularly, in the cities of the southeast of Anatolia", Philippe Texier, vice president of the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal said to the European Parliament in Brussels. The panel of judges also invited the ambassador of Turkey to Paris to hear the indictment, but he ignored the request.
Established in Bologna in 1979 upon the request of Senator Lelio Basso, the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal seeks to be an instrument and platform for human rights violations committed against groups, and peoples seen to be marginalized by international law mechanisms. It is made up of experts, scholars and judges from Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. Thus far, since its inception in 1979, it has had less than 50 sessions.
According to the PPT, "From the 1st of January 2015 to the 1st of June 2017", the period of which the tribunal paid significant attention to, "war crimes were perpetrated by the Turkish state during confrontations in the cities of southeast Anatolia, including assassinations, the permanent displacement of Kurdish people, and also, the attempted killings on the part of the Kurdish people."
The Permanent Peoples' Tribunal collected its evidence for the tribunal over the course of two days in Paris, where survivors, families of the killed, academics, and politicians all proposed evidence of wrongdoing by Turkey over the course of decades, in particular against the Kurds.
The judges who oversaw the proceedings included Mr Philippe Texier, a former leading member of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights from 1987 to 2008, Mr Domenico Galo, a former senator in Italy, where he served on the Secretary of Defence Committee, Mr. Norman Peach, emeritus professer of political science and public law at the University of Hamburg, Mr Denis J. Halliday, former United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, Luciana Castellina, a former member of the Italian and European parliaments, and finally Majid Benchikh, the founder of Amnesty International Algeria.
"The state crimes include targetted assassinations, extrajudicial executions, the forced disappearing of dissidents, all of which were committed by different branches of the state's security forces and secret services, in Turkey and abroad, particularly in France with the assassination of three Kurdish activists in 2013" Mr Texier said in front of EU officials in Brussels.
In May 2016, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein, produced a public statement detailing "reports quoting witnesses and relatives in Cizre which suggest that more than 100 people were burned to death ... by security forces". Turkey refused to respond to the statement.
As a follow up to their verdict, blaming President Recep Tayyip Erdogan directly for war crimes, the Tribunal provided 5 recommendations to the Turkish State. Firstly that Turkey withdraw from Afrin and other areas it has occupied, secondly that Turkey investigate allegations of war crimes in southeast Anatolia from June 2015 to January 2017, thirdly that Turkey end its state of emergency and its purges in the public and private sectors, fourthly that it ends the war and restarts the peace process with the PKK, and finally that it grant amnesty to perpetrators of crimes on both sides, and release all political prisoners.
The tribunal ended its verdict by condemning Turkey of still holding a "nationalism which in the past provoked the Armenian genocide."
"The Turkish and Kurdish people can avoid a similar fate," Mr Texier concluded.