Asked on Scifi SE initially.

Based on Avatar The Last Airbender S01E17, Sokka is ostensibly a war criminal, at least based on our laws. See eg here and here.

From International Committee of the Red Cross - Practice Relating to Rule 62. Improper Use of Flags or Military Emblems, Insignia or Uniforms of the Adversary:

According to custom, it is permissible for a belligerent warship to use false colours and to disguise her outward appearance in other ways in order to deceive an enemy, provided that prior to going into action the warship shows her true colours. Aircraft are not, however, enentitled to use false markings.

From false flag Wikipedia page

In land warfare, such operations are generally deemed acceptable under certain circumstances, such as to deceive enemies, provided the deception is not perfidious and that all such deceptions are discarded before opening fire upon the enemy. Similarly, in naval warfare such a deception is considered permissible, provided the false flag is lowered and the true flag raised before engaging in battle.

What happened:

Sokka a member of the water nation defended against an attack by the fire nation. During such defense, Sokka was in a hot air balloon that had the fire nation insignia. Sokka did not change to water nation flag or anything before counter-attacking.


Did Sokka commit the war crime of false flag, assuming our laws applied? Or did Sokka commit some other war crime for such actions?

  • @Richard What if someone were to say...'oh but the fire nation were the aggressors. why would sokka have to fight fair?' ? (and then please consider composing reply as an answer.)
    – BCLC
    Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 23:02
  • 7
    Sokka, Katara and Aang are civilians and children. None of the statues mentioned would have any relevance to them. At best they could be considered partisan fighters
    – Richard
    Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 23:10
  • See semi-cross-posted answer
    – BCLC
    Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 15:04

1 Answer 1



Assuming both the Fire Nation and Water Tribes are signatories to the Geneva conventions, the rules only apply to uniformed members of the signatory member nations. Such as the water tribes have uniformed members, Sokka is not (at least not at this time, as its shown that Southern Water Tribe warriors use black and white face paint when in battle and Sokka does don this paint prior to going into key battles. Additionally, the Mechanist is more likely the "pilot" of the balloon and has no uniform that ties him to any Nation's military. Additionally, neither is acting under apparent orders from a higher ranking member of a foreign military. All involved look to be refugees and travelers trying to keep away from the military and would be subject to the Fire Nation Criminal Justice System

(In the Fire Nation Criminal Justice System, the people are represented by two separate but equal entities: The military, who capture enemies of the Fire Lord, and the Crematorium who prosecutes them. These are their stories DOING DOING).

  • hszmv what is DOING DOING ?
    – BCLC
    Commented Aug 26, 2022 at 4:51
  • 3
    @BCLC: An onomonopia of the distinctive chimes that play at the end of the opening narration in Law And Order franchise series which the parenthetical is parodying. . Can also be rendered as "CHONG CHONG"
    – hszmv
    Commented Aug 26, 2022 at 10:58
  • @BCLC: A) I've been away for two days, B) You are changing what I wrote.
    – hszmv
    Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 12:28
  • hszmv in what way?
    – BCLC
    Commented Apr 7 at 11:50
  • @BCLC when you edit my post to put in your own wording or phrasing. Edits should be used to change obvious grammar or spelling errors... but not even the order of the wording or the deletion of what the general message is trying to say, which changes the intended communication of an answer by the author. The only time doing so should be acceptable is when you are the original author and it's best practices to note the changes if you are adding, deleting, or correcting facts/figures cited.
    – hszmv
    Commented Apr 16 at 18:17

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