ANKARA (Armenian Weekly)—The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) of Turkey released a statement on April 24 condemning the Turkish government’s denial of the Armenian Genocide and urging a full restoration of justice. Specifically, the HDP called for recognition of the genocide of Armenians and Syriacs (Assyrians), reparations for genocide victims, and the return of all seized and appropriated properties taken during and after the crime.
The statement also called for the lifting of the unilateral blockade imposed by Turkey on Armenia; the removal of genocide denial and hate speech from Turkish textbooks; an end to Turkey’s policy of racial and religious profiling; and the granting of citizenship to all those who trace their roots to the country.
Below is the HDP’s statement in its entirety:
One hundred and one years ago, on April 24, 1915, the [Armenian Genocide] began with the arrest of more than 200 Armenian intellectuals from their homes and their sentencing to death byIttihad and Terakki’s [the Committee of Union and Progress] Teşkilat-ı Mahsusa [Special Organization]. The process continued with the deportation and systematic killing of thousands of Armenians. April 24 is regarded as the start of the genocide perpetrated against the Armenian and Syriac peoples.
Even 101 years after the Great Catastrophe (Medz Yeghern, in Armenian), the planned genocide of an ethnicity and faith, the politics of denial continues on the lands that have witnessed this immense pain. Turkey’s peoples have not yet faced the hefty crimes that have rendered our geography infertile, and the price continues to be enormous for all of us. That is because the monistic state mentality that aims to wipe out our differences—and create in its place one race, one religion, and one language—has attacked the people of this region in the name of homogenization.
On the lands where different peoples and faiths co-exist, no ethnic identity, language, culture, or faith can be superior to others. The state’s policy that aims at forgetting that different peoples and faiths have lived on these lands, has destroyed much of the cemeteries, schools, and churches belonging to the Armenians and the Syriacs; has seized the ones that [it] could not destroy; and has changed place names. Profiling has taken place on a state level, with hateful and insulting discourse in school textbooks and control over schools and faith centers, which are blunt proof of the monistic and hegemonic state perspective. Hrant Dink and Sevag Şahin Balıkçı’s murders are the continuation of these state policies.
We know from examples around the world that condemning crimes against humanity, facing the truth, and apologizing are very important steps towards building public peace and developing feelings of conscience and justice. Sharing the pain is an element of thinking in partnership and being able to create a democratic, peaceful, and egalitarian future together. It is an obligation of the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crime of Genocide—to which Turkey is a signatory—to recognize the genocide, to apologize to the victims, to name the responsible perpetrators, and to sympathize with each other. Wounds have to heal and these are the first steps that must be taken.
The next steps should be the opening of the one-sided blockade of the Turkey-Armenia border; giving citizenship rights to the Armenians and Syriacs who trace their roots to these lands; ending profiling; clearing out hateful discourse from school textbooks; paying compensation to genocide victims; and returning and restoring the Armenian and Syriac peoples’ schools, churches, and other public properties.
In order to construct a just future, a united and decisive struggle by the people is necessary. As the grandchildren of the ancient peoples of Anatolia, we face the 101-year-old shame, share the pain, hear the tragedy in our deep heart, and commemorate all those who have fallen with grief and respect.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)
Central Executive Board
April 24, 2016
(Note: The statement has been edited for clarity and style)