Gul Entangled in Controversy, Sues MP for Armenian Ancestry Allegation

ANKARA (Combined Sources)–The growing controversy surrounding allegations that Turkey’s President is Armenia have taken a new turn as President Abdullah Gul filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Canan Aritman for claiming that his mother is of Armenian origin.

The lawsuit, filed by the president’s lawyer Omer Kucukozcan on Monday, said Aritman’s allegations were an “assault on the client’s personal and family values, honor and reputation.”

Aritman’s allegations had come in response to a statement by the Turkish President Thursday regarding an online petition initiated by a group of about 200 prominent Turkish intellectuals, academics and newspaper columnists apologizing to the Armenia’s for their suffering during the "Great Catastrophe" of 1915.

Gul, who visited Armenia in September, said “the fact that the issue is discussed freely in academic and public circles is proof of the presence of democratic discussion in Turkey."

She denounced Gul for supporting the campaign, saying “he should be the president of the entire Turkish nation and not of his ethnic origin,” which she claimed were Armenian. “Investigate the ethnic origins of the president’s mother and you will see.”

The allegations the lawsuit said, were “based on racism and discrimination,” and are a politically motivated attempt to “cause doubts about the performance of the president, who has non-political responsibilities.”

"My client’s views have been distorted and it was suggested that he has ethnic ties on his mother’s side, as if he stands closer to a part of society because of that," the lawsuit said.

"It would be impossible to compensate for the damages that occurred because of this issue,” the lawsuit said, demanding instead that the courts acknowledge the “injustice” Aritman had committed.

The lawsuit came days after the Gul family threated to file their own lawsuit against the CHP deputy. Meanwhile, Gul released a statement Wednesday dispelling the allegations, saying that his ancestry was, in fact, Turkish and Muslim. He said that his mother’s side, the Satoglu family from Kayseri, and his father’s side, the Gul family also from Kayseri, are Muslim and Turkish, according to centuries of written genealogy records.

"I respect the ethnic background, different beliefs and family ties of all my citizens and see this as a reality and also the wealth of our country with its imperial history. I also would like to emphasize that all my citizens are equal to one another regardless of any differences. No one has any superiority whatsoever over another one. Everybody has the equal and same rights under the guarantee of our Constitution," Gul’s statement read.

"I am proud of our country, which has reached this level of understanding," Gul said.

Aritman immediately responded to Gul’s statement. Speaking at a CHP congress Sunday she said: "I never asked the president to announce his genealogical background. I just wanted him to protect his nation and state, the duty assigned to him by the Constitution."

"Why doesn’t the president show the principled stance shown by the prime minister?" she asked. Erdogan earlier last week bashed the apology campaign, saying there was nothing to apologize for.

"It is wrong for the president not to demonstrate the same stance. How can a president not protect the rights and pride of his state and nation?" she asked, telling the Milliyet newspaper that the campaign had worked to create the impression in the international community that Turkey had accepted the allegations of genocide.

According to media reports, CHP head Deniz Baykal has been uneasy about Aritman’s statemen’s. Meanwhile, the CHP administration issued a warning to Aritman after she appeared on two TV news shows about her allegations about Gul without the CHP administration’s permission.

The controversy surrounding her statement’s were further heightened by an interview published in the Milliyet daily Sunday, where she said she would like to throw a shoe at the president when she sees him in the same way an Iraqi journalist last week hurled a shoe at visiting US President George W. Bush.

Aritman on Monday demanded that Gul have a DNA test performed to prove his ethnic origins.

"Today, ethnic origin does not gain legal and scientific validity through family trees, but through DNA tests," Aritman’said in her written statement late Monday. "Birth records during the Ottomans were based on declarations and while recording non-Muslims, the state used to write a Muslim name as the father’s name. Thus, nobody can prove their ethic identity through a family tree."

She said it was Gul’s prerogative to file a suit against her and that she was not after anyone’s DNA results, but in the event of a judicial process, she would have to produce documen’s and witnesses.

Aritman’said she expected the president to say the Turkish nation had not committed any crime of genocide.

"Many nations owe an apology to our nation, but we do not owe an apology to anybody," she said. "I do not think I have requested a difficult thing. This is the president’s constitutional duty. If he does not perform this task, he commits a crime against the Constitution and he should resign."


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