(RFE/RL) – Turkey’s Human Rights Organization has reportedly filed a lawsuit against the country’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and another senior official on the grounds of insulting Armenians.
Speaking in the city of Bingol in eastern Turkey on February 27, Davutoglu criticized the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, accusing it of collaborating with Russia like “the Armenian gangs collaborated with the Russians.”
Turkey and Russia have been at loggerheads of the situation in Syria. The relations between Ankara and Moscow have been particularly tense since last November when Turkish air forces downed a Russian military plane near the Syrian border.
In his statement Davutoglu implied an accusation against Ottoman Armenians that existed in Turkey during World War I and led to mass killings and deportations of Armenians that were later acknowledged by many historians and world governments as the first genocide of the 20th century.
On March 3, at a conference organized in Askale, Turkey’s Erzurum province, the city’s mayor Enver Basharan repeated Davutoglu’s remarks, thanking “the glorious ancestors who cleared this land and threw out the Armenians.”
According to Turkish media, before filing the lawsuit, human rights activists on Tuesday gathered near Istanbul’s Caglayan Justice Palace and issued a statement stressing that the actions of the Turkish Armed Forces that have been carried out in the Kurdish-populated regions of Turkey for months have been accompanied by racist rhetoric against Armenians.
“A genocide was perpetrated against Armenians, their wealth was confiscated, the cultural heritage of Armenians and other Christian nations was systematically destroyed. As if all this was not enough, the remaining handful of Armenians are being humiliated today, everything possible is being done to threaten their lives. All this has and will continue to be a crime against humanity in history. Upcoming generations will remember you for this. Discrimination in the highest level of the Turkish state continues and is encouraged. But there are those who will raise their voices against this crime until the end,” the members of the organization said, reports Armenia’s news agency Armenpress.
In an interview with Russia’s Kommersant Daily earlier this week Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian also addressed the Turkish prime minister’s remarks. He said that he had an impression that the Turkish leadership was “losing the sense of reality.”
“Such a statement is a very serious signal to the international community about what may happen to the Kurds,” said Nalbandian, drawing parallels between Davutoglu’s anti-Armenian rhetoric and the statements and actions of Talaat Pasha, one of the Ottoman Empire rulers at the beginning of the 20th century, who also blamed Armenians for collaborating with Russia.
Acting as the minister of interior, Talaat Pasha ordered on April 24, 1915 the arrest and deportation of Armenian intellectuals in Constantinople (now Istanbul), most of them being ultimately murdered. The event marked the beginning of large-scale persecutions and reprisals against Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as a result of which an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed or deported from their homes. Talaat Pasha is widely considered to be the main perpetrator of the Armenian Genocide.
“It is obvious that little has changed in the ruling clique of Turkey over 100 years,” Nalbandian concluded.