Marking the first time Sweden – the country – has ever lodged a complaint against a head-of-state, this week five members of parliament (MPs) from the Scandinavian country officially accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of genocide.
The MPs’ complaint alleges Erdogan has committed war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity against the Kurdish majority in Turkey’s southeast region since a truce between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and government forces fell apart in 2015.
The official complaint was filed in the Swedish International Public Prosecution Offices.
If that department decides to move forward with an investigation, warrants could be issued for the arrest of Erdogan and several other Turkish officials, such as Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.
MP Carl Schlyter says he likes the idea of Erdogan potentially having limited freedom of movement in his part of the world and hopes neighboring countries will follow suit:
“If [Mr Erdogan] is hindered from roaming around in Europe and influencing European countries the way he wants, then I hope that this will affect his politics.”
Such a move against President Erdogan was only made possible by a Swedish law passed in 2014 that allows the country to hold and judge its own court cases involving genocide and crimes against humanity, regardless of where those crimes took place.
“Anyone, who in order to completely or partially destroy a national or ethnic group of people” kills or causes serious pain or injury is “guilty of genocide,” the legislation reads.
The PKK, which originally sought an independent homeland for Turkey’s 15 million Kurds, launched its insurgency back in 1984. Since that time, an estimated 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have died in the conflict.