Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was harshly criticized by non-governmental organizations for his statement that the Armenian people in Turkey were going to be called to account for parliaments of other countries that recognize the Armenian genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire in 1915. On 11 March, the Swedish parliament decided by one majority vote to describe as genocide the killing in World War I.
In a joint press release, the NGOs reminded Erodoğan that he committed a hate crime. "It is unacceptable to make thousands of vulnerable people the subject of a bargain in order to dismiss the decision that might be taken by the parliaments of third countries".
The joint press release by the NGOs was signed by the following organizations:
SayStop Initiative, Amargi Women Co-operative, Anti-capitalistic Students, Women's Peace Initiative, Arts Peace Initiative, Conscientious Objectors' Platform for Peace, Solidarity Platform, Bosporus Performance Arts Society, Çiğli Women Solidarity House (ÇEKEV), Revolutionary Socialist Workers' Party (DSİP), Diyarbakir Communication Platform, Labour Party (EMEP) İstanbul Provincial Organization, Ev Eksenli Çalışanlar Sendikası, Young Civilian Population, Immigration Solidarity Network, Human Rights Association, Izmir Women Solidarity Association, Kaos GL, Kumbara Art Studio, Global BAK, Global Action Group, Lambdaistanbul, Nor Zartonk, Women's Initiative against Violence and Discrimination in Trade Unions, Social Transformation Association, Social Solidarity Association, Freedom on Earth Association, The Greens Party, Confrontation Association, 70 Million Steps Coalition and the 78'ers Initiative.
"Don't trade defenceless people"
In an interview on the Turkish BBC in London on 16 March, Erdoğan said:
"Look, there are 170,000 Armenian people in my country. 70,000 of them are my fellow-citizens. But we are tolerating another 100,000 people in our country. So, what am I going to do - I will tell them to go back to their country tomorrow if necessary. I am going to do that. Why? They are not my fellow-citizens... I do not have to keep them in my country. Unfortunately, with their attitude they have a negative effect on our current sincere approach and they are not aware of that".
The 31 NGOs described these words as a shame and criticized the Prime Minister for showing Armenian workers as a target, who lack any kind of protection, defence and social security. The organizations reminded Erdoğan of the following points:
* Nobody abandons the place where he/she was born for insignificant reasons; and nobody stays in a country where they cannot find work.
* The Armenian immigrant workers have the right to humane treatment just as anybody else.
* It is unacceptable to make thousands of defenseless people subject to bargaining in order to dismiss the decisions that might be taken by third countries parliaments.
* Erdoğan is the Prime Minister of a country that alleges to bring together civilizations, to sort out the quarrels and normalize relations with Armenia which are international demands. In these terms, Erdoğan's statement carved out a huge contrast.
The group of NGOs condemned a mentality which in the 21st century is still inclined to relocation. They demand to abandon this disgraceful bargain made upon defenseless people as soon as possible. (BÇ/VK)