Armenian Apology Causes Brawl in Turkish Parliament

Turkish politicians from the Republican Peoples Party and the ruling Ak Party fight during a debate in the Turkish parliament in Ankara.

ISTANBUL (Marmara)–A Turkish parliament member’s request Sunday that the legislature apologize to Armenia’s for the “events of 1915” has caused an uproar in parliament, with members hurling personal insults at one another.

Democratic Society Party (DTP) member Osman Euzcelik brought the matter up during parliament’s discussion of the education ministry budget and went on to recall the Armenian massacres by using the Kurdish word that describes Genocide.

He also said that he had heard stories about the Armenian killings as child growing up in Turkey and added that the killings were planned by the sultan of the Ottoman Empire and were carried out by groups called Hamiddiye, which also had Kurdish members.

Euzcelik likened the campaign to kill Armenia’s to the current campaign waged against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

“These groups killed a large number of Armenia’s. A lot of times they would line up the Armenia’s and shoot them in the chest. All Armenia’s of Martin were killed and some fled to Syria,” said Euzcelik, who added that his grandfather’s family provided refuge for Genocide survivors.

Nevzad Pakdil, who was presiding over the parliament session, interrupted Euzcelik, blasting him for “insulting the society in which you live.”

Euzcelik said that he was apologizing to Armenia’s on his own behalf.

Pakdil intervened again attempting to stifle the parliament member. Members of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) applauded the Pakdil while another DTP member, Surru Saken directed his anger to Paktdil by saying, “Mr. Chairman, you represent the Marash district and you know full well the extent of the tragedy that unfolded there.”

This comment prompted a member of the AKP to walk toward DTP members and begin screaming at his fellow parliamentarians. Another parliament member intervened to stop what could have become a physical altercation.

“Should we not talk about the facts? There is not one Assyrian left,” screamed another DTP member during the commotion, which was followed by several DTP members leaving the parliament.

The unprecedented demonstration in Parliament came less one a week after 200 Turkish intellectuals launched an internet petition apologizing to the Armenia’s for what they called the "injustice" of the "Great Catastrophe" of 1915. The petition, which sparked controversy in Turkey, had garnered over 20,000 signatures by Monday, stirring a media storm on the topic and challenging long-held taboos on the Armenian Genocide. It has drawn the ire of Turkey’s ultra nationalists, provoking also Turkey’s powerful generals, former diplomats, the Foreign Minister, and the Prime Minister to denounce the campaign.

Earlier in October, DTP leader, Ahmet Turk, denounced the government’s policy regarding the Kurdish issue, describing it as “cultural and societal genocide."

"The policy of denial, assimilation and eradication has affected people. Only the Kurds resisted. They still resist," Turk told demonstrators in the south-eastern city of Diyarbakir on October 22.

DTP, the country’s main Kurdish party, has been under siege by the Turkish government, facing a possible ban by the constitutional court in what is widely recognized as being a politically charged case aimed at decapitating the party.

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