ALMELO, Netherlands—The Parliament of the Dutch province of Overijssel adopted on Wednesday a motion which condemned Turkish opposition to the presence of an Armenian Genocide memorial on the private property of an Armenian church in Almelo. During a protest rally by the Turkish community on Tuesday, insulting, threatening and hateful statements were made against Armenians.
The motion submitted by Christian Union (CU), the Reformed Political Party (SGP), Party for Freedom (PVV) and Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) refers to the period of 1915-1918 when millions of Armenians, Assyrians, and Pontic Greeks were brutally slaughtered in the former Ottoman Empire.
The motion dissociates the provincial parliament from the protest rally by genocide deniers and expresses the recognition of the Armenian Genocide with reference to a motion of the Dutch Parliament from 2004. The provincial parliament thereby reassured the Armenian community that it has the right to a dignified memorial place.
In connection with the statements during the Turkish demonstrations on June 1, the Joint Armenian Organizations filed a complaint last week.
The Joint Armenian Organizations, namely the Federation of Armenian Organizations in the Netherlands (FAON) and Dutch Armenian Committee for Justice and Democracy (ANC of the Netherlands), have reported the organizers, speakers and participants of a Turkish rally on Tuesday, June 1, in Almelo to the police, the Federation of Armenian Organisations in The Netherlands reported.
The rally was intended to be a demonstration against the Genocide memorial recently erected on the private grounds of the Armenian Church in Almelo, however, it turned into anti-Armenian chanting and denial of the Armenian Genocide. Roughly 3000 protestors gathered in Almelo from cities all over the Netherlands.
Member of the Dutch Parliament Pieter Omtzigt cited hateful Turkish chants during the rally, including examples such as “Karabakh will be the mass grave of Armenians.” Omzigt also said that members of a military band who wore Ottoman uniforms were a provocation in view of the fact that the genocide was carried out under Ottoman rule.
According to the Joint Armenian Organizations, the participants of the rally are guilty of group defamation, discrimination, and incitement of hatred toward the Armenian people and community, meaning that Article 137 of the Criminal Code of the Netherlands was violated. Written questions about the demonstration were submitted by Members of the Dutch Parliament Pieter Omtzigt (CDA – Christian Democratic Appeal), Harry Van Bommel (SP – Socialist Party), Joel Voordewind (CU – Christian Union), Kees van der Staaij (SGP – Reformed Political Party) and Raymond de Roon (PVV – Party for Freedom) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Social Affairs and Employment, and Minister of Security and Justice.
The questions included concerns about the organization of the rally, which, according to pamphlets distributed on the day, was in part organized by Diyanet, “The Ministry of Religious Affairs” of Turkey, which also offered free transportation by bus to the demonstration.