Turkey rights group thanks Germany for Armenian Genocide recognition

Armenian Weekly – The Committee Against Racism and Discrimination of the Human Rights Association of Turkey, Istanbul branch, sent a letter to the Consul General of Germany in Istanbul, expressing gratitude regarding the German Parliament’s historic vote on June 2 recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The letter also denounces the racist announcements by Turkish government officials, the media, and members of society.

Below is the letter sent by the Committee Against Racism and Discrimination of the Human Rights Association of Turkey Istanbul branch:

Consulate General of the German Federal Republic İnönü Caddesi No. 10

June 8, 2016

Dear Dr. Georg Birgelen, Consul General of Germany,

As the Human Rights Association, Istanbul Branch, Committee Against Racism and Discrimination, we address you this letter to denounce and express shame for the extremely racist verbal and written attacks by the Turkish authorities, the media, and various nationalist elements of society, against Germany and the German people, following the German Parliamentary decision that recognizes the Armenian Genocide.

German Members of Parliament (MP) of Turkish origin have been labeled traitors following the vote, with some—including Cem Özdemir—receiving death threats.

As human rights defenders and activists against racism, we appreciate the fact that the German state has condemned the Holocaust by all means, created places for Holocaust memorialization in all areas of life, variously memorialized the crimes of the Nazi regime, established an educational system that insists on historical truth rather than denialist history, and made these permanent as state policy. On Dec. 7, 1970, German Chancellor Willy Brandt kneeled before the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial and apologized to the Jewish people, thereby vividly demonstrating to the world what states must do with regard to crimes against humanity. Without a doubt, Germany was able to arrive at this point as a result of the endless efforts of human rights defenders, thinkers and writers, politicians, and all influential individuals of the public sphere. For we see every single day how difficult it is both for the state and for society to rid themselves of all kinds of racism. It is moreover impossible for a crime against humanity such as genocide to be atoned for, restituted, or redressed; nevertheless, all steps in this direction are conditions of being a society, and being human.

A natural, if belated, consequence of this state policy, the German Parliamentary decision of June 2, 2016 is exemplary in showing the approach that the world must take with regard to crimes against humanity committed by states, in that in its decision to “remember and commemorate the genocide against Armenians and other Christians in the period 1915-16,” it has not only recognized the premeditated, systematic genocide perpetrated in Anatolia and Asia Minor, but also clearly stated that Germany was also responsible.

Opposed to this exemplary stance is the attitude in Turkey, which condones the crime. The insults and discourses of racial hatred directed toward Germany, German MPs, and the German people, as well as the actions in which such discourses were used, constitute crimes in the countries that enforce the standards of international law. Even more extreme racist insults and threats against German MPs of Turkish origin lay bare the dire situation in Turkey in terms of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

As human rights defenders in Turkey, we see these attacks by state authorities, the media, and nationalists as evidence that these crimes against humanity can always recur in this country. We believe that these discourses and actions are attacks on the will of elected representatives, on democracy, human rights, and universal law, not only in Germany but in all countries who have taken or will take a stance against the official view in Turkey.

We thus salute the German Parliament on the occasion of its decision and announce to the public opinion in your country that we deem the hatred and hostility against Germany and the German people to be hostility toward democracy and human rights.

Yours sincerely,

Human Rights Association, Istanbul Branch Committee Against Racism and Discrimination

The Human Rights Association (HRA) is a non-governmental and independent voluntary organization. Founded by 98 human rights activists in 1986. The Association today has 28 branches, 4 representation offices, and 10,938 members. The oldest and largest human rights association in Turkey, the HRA’s sole and explicit objective is to work for human rights and freedoms. 

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