BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
It seems Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not see the irony in his statement Tuesday, when he threatened to deport Armenians from Turkey if Congress passes the Armenian Genocide resolution.
For years, the Turkish government has used its “tolerance” toward undocumented Armenian immigrants, allegedly numbering 100,000, as a way to promote Turkey’s “good will” toward its neighbors.
Needless to say that a senior Armenian government official accused the Turks late last year of grossly inflating the number of illegal Armenians residing in Turkey, saying that it does not exceed 5,200. An Istanbul-born Armenian researcher who studied the issue last year came up with a similar estimate.
In this most recent iteration of Turkey’s anger toward the US, Erdogan effectively took a page from the playbook of his ancestors of the Ottoman Empire, whose systematic deportation of Armenians was part of the Turks’ genocidal plan.
Erdogan and the Turkish government have gone to great lengths to deny the Genocide, yet this latest threat, broadcast worldwide on the BBC, proves only one thing: state-sponsored persecution is not only part of Turkey’s history but it is also engrained in its society.
The Erdogan remarks should also raise red flags among those who invoke Turkey’s significance as an ally to rationalize their opposition to US recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Their steadfast perpetuation of the Turkish lie gives a green light to the Turkish prime minister to nonchalantly use the threat of deportation against Armenian living in Turkey today.
Just imagine the visuals: Turkish interior ministry forces rounding up the alleged 100,000 illegal Armenians from their homes and stuffing them into vehicles to be transported to their exile. Or will they want to them to walk to their exile?
The most shocking is the reaction of international leaders to this announcement. Instead of being admonished for his inhumane posturing, Erdogan, who is in London at the invitation of his British counterpart, Gordon Brown, was assured Wednesday by British officials that the Genocide bill pending in parliament would not pass.
While Armenia’s prime minister and justice minister were quick to criticize Erdogan’s latest desperate retort, they should have vocally stated that Armenia would welcome its own citizens back with open arms.
This statement should also send a clear signal to Armenia’s leadership that the protocols process, which was shortsighted to begin with, is, in fact, fraught with dangers for Armenians and their national security.