MISSION VIEJO—On the eve of Germany’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide, Turkish Consul General of Los Angeles, Raife Gulru Gezer, continued Turkey’s campaign of denial during a presentation hosted by the World Affairs Council of Orange County (WACOC).
During her presentation, she discussed the Syrian refugee crisis and Turkey’s humanitarian efforts in the region, claiming Turkey was actually helping millions of Syrian refugees. She omitted discussing Turkey’s relations with ISIS (Dayesh), the strained relations with Russia and Israel and failed in her attempt to portray the Republic of Turkey and Erdogan as compassionate and caring champions of human rights.
At the end of the presentation, as is customary during WACOC event, attendees wrote their questions on cards and submitted them for the moderator to read aloud.
When asked about land records and deeds, and personal property belonging to Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians that had been lost during World War I and the Armenian Genocide, the Gezer’s response was dismissive: she simply stated that in times of war property is lost and gained by many people.
When asked about Turkey’s terrible record with countless journalists in jail, she reached for a handbook under the podium and read aloud the number of journalists in prison and arrogantly stated their incarceration is due to doing more than reporting facts as a journalist.
The Consul General was also asked how Turkey reconciles its position regarding the Armenian Genocide with the fact that the architects of the Genocide, Talaat, Enver and Jemal Pashas were tried and convicted in Turkey for war crimes and mass killing of Armenians, and sentenced to death in Absentia. Her response was that that the three pashas were acquitted of committing many crimes.
Finally, when asked about the Armenian Genocide and Turkey’s continued campaign of denial in light of world opinion and historical fact, she took a stern approach and restated the Republic of Turkey’s policy of denial as she stared down a few of the Armenians that were present. After which the Armenians left the event in protest.
Prior to the presentation, an Armenian woman was singled out by the numerous attendees of Turkish descent in an attempt to intimidate her and force her to leave. She was quietly seated at her table with the Orange County Board of Supervisors who passed a resolution designating April 24 as Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day when a Turkish woman started arguing about the resolution stating that it was offensive. The Armenian woman responded by saying Turkey’s denial of the Genocide is offensive and that it would be best for the two of them to not talk.
Soon after, others attempted to engage the Armenian woman in an aggressive manner. Some complained to the WACOC and venue’s management who came to her table to warn that police were on their way, suggesting she should leave. She was told it was a private event, and that the organizers had complained even though the Armenian woman was a member and purchased her ticket. WACOC board members, including the chairwoman, helped deescalate the situation while defending the Armenian woman’s right to be present and ask questions.
Unfortunately, the Armenian woman was a victim of ethnic persecution here in the United States just as Armenians continue to be victims in Turkey, where even members of parliament such as Garo Palyan are attacked simply for being Armenian.
The World Affairs Council of Orange County held an event in 2015 during the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide where the ANCA Orange County chapter was one of the sponsors.
Amnesty International Press Release from April 2016 about actual events occurring in Turkey which were omitted in Gezer’s presentation:
“TURKEY: ILLEGAL MASS RETURNS OF SYRIAN REFUGEES EXPOSE FATAL FLAWS IN EU-TURKEY DEAL.
New research carried out by the organization in Turkey’s southern border provinces suggests that Turkish authorities have been rounding up and expelling groups of around 100 Syrian men, women and children to Syria on a near-daily basis since mid-January. Over three days last week, Amnesty International researchers gathered multiple testimonies of large-scale returns from Hatay province, confirming a practice that is an open secret in the region.
It is reported that refugee “registration is required to access basic services. In Gaziantep, Amnesty International met with the son of a woman requiring emergency surgery to save her life but who was denied the ability to register – and therefore have the surgery. She eventually was able to register elsewhere and receive the life-saving treatment.
All forced returns to Syria are illegal under Turkish, EU and international law.”
For more information on Turkey’s human rights violations, visit:
Amnesty International: http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/countries/europe/turkey
Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/europe/central-asia/turkey
Reporters without Borders: https://rsf.org/en/turkey