YEREVAN—The Chairman of the Armenian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Thursday sent a letter to the chairman of the Council of Europe and the president of PACE regarding recent threats by the Turkish prime minister on deportation of Armenians.
The letter, signed by chairman Davit Harutunyan, urges the Council of Europe and PACE to, among other actions, warn Turkey about Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s threats to deport Armenians if a Congressional resolution recognizing the Genocide is passed.
“The Council of Europe should, therefore issue a clear and unambiguous warning to the Government of Turkey about the nature and content of statements made by its Prime Minister and impermissibility of using this issue for making pressure on foreign countries by discriminatory application of migration policies towards a particular national group. The Council should also remind strongly the Government of Turkey of its obligations and responsibilities under international human rights law to safeguard and protect migrants against illegal or violent acts,” said the letter.
Harutunyan also addressed a written question to PACE chairman Mevlut Cavusoglu on a double standard by the Assembly regarding recognition of the Genocide.
“Recently you have referred to the commemoration of the Katyn massacre as an event “about seeking historical justice and bringing about reconciliation”. This is most commendable indeed, especially hearing it from the President of PACE, but above all from a Founding Member and elected representative of Turkey’s ruling AK party. Incidentally on this occasion you do not insist that history should be left to historians. I hope you could live up to your views and join the Armenian people in commemorating the historical injustice perpetrated against them by the Ottoman rulers 95 years ago and defy the denialists of the Armenian genocide in Turkey,” said Harutunyan in his letter.
Below is the complete text of Harutunyan’s letter to the Council of Europe and PACE leadership regarding Erdogan’s comments.
MR. THORBJØRN JAGLAND
SECRETARY GENERAL OF
THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE
MR. MEVLÜT ÇAVUŞOĞLU
PRESIDENT OF THE
PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY OF THE
COUNCIL OF EUROPE
CC: Members of PACE National delegations
Over the past two weeks the Prime Minister of Turkey has twice explicitly stated his intention to deport Armenians who allegedly reside in Turkey illegally. Immediately after the US Congress Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution specifying “the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1,500,000 Armenians [in Ottoman Empire] as genocide” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told to BBC “We are turning a blind eye to the remaining 100,000 [Armenians, who are not citizens of Turkey]. Tomorrow, I may tell these 100,000 to go back to their country, if it becomes necessary”.
After the Swedish Parliament passed a decision recognising the Genocide of Armenians in 1915, the Prime Minister of Turkey in his interview to “Spiegel” told: “We turn to Armenian Diaspora and those countries that support the diaspora: there are Armenians in Turkey who are Turkish citizens, and there are those who live in our country illegally. So far we have not considered the question of deportation, but if the diaspora continues to exert pressure [to recognise the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Empire], we could imagine ourselves capable of doing that.”
These statements raised a wave of criticism even in Turkey. Nevertheless the Prime Minister of Turkey refused to apologise and to correct his mistake claiming only that he was misinterpreted and misunderstood. But later events clearly showed that the Prime Minister continues the same discriminatory approach.
These statements raise serious concerns in that a person who bears the responsibility for the policy of the Republic of Turkey singles out a particular group of national origin in a context totally unrelated to any objective of addressing the issue of illegal migration. They imply application of Turkey’s immigration laws and policies selectively and inconsistently, targeting a specific national group.
Such irresponsible statements flagrantly violate every international treaty and convention in the field of racism and discrimination and require urgent attention and prompt reaction by the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly in particular. It is regrettable that up to now neither the Secretary General of the Council of Europe nor the President of the PACE reacted to such irresponsible statements, which violate the principles and values of the Organization.
Particularly, the Prime Minister of Turkey must be reminded without ambiguity that persecution against any identifiable group on racial, national, ethnic or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law constitutes serious violations of human rights and, in some cases, qualifies as crimes against humanity.
It is particularly striking that such statements have been made by a high official representing a country of origin for millions of migrants, including illegal migrants in most parts of Europe.
Furthermore, the words uttered by the Prime Minister in his statements manifest negative stereotyping of a particular group, namely migrants of Armenian origin, and abuse a situation of vulnerability in which these migrants find themselves.
The Council of Europe should, therefore issue a clear and unambiguous warning to the Government of Turkey about the nature and content of statements made by its Prime Minister and impermissibility of using this issue for making pressure on foreign countries by discriminatory application of migration policies towards a particular national group. The Council should also remind strongly the Government of Turkey of its obligations and responsibilities under international human rights law to safeguard and protect migrants against illegal or violent acts.
It is noticeable that recognition and condemnation of the genocide by the international community is not only a tribute to the victims of the genocides, but also an important step towards prevention of the crime of genocide in the future. Yet, the statement of the Prime Minister of Turkey amounts to clear manifestation of hate speech and humiliation of a particular minority group, which may give rise to genocidal tendencies in Turkey. In this connection, it is important to consider what steps need to be taken to prevent development of such tendencies in Turkey as well as any manifestations of racism and discrimination in respect of any national or ethnic group.
It’s worth drawing attention to the fact that to date Turkey has not ratified Protocol N12 to the ECHR, which provides for a general prohibition of discrimination and has not signed and ratified the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
Based on his visit to Turkey in 2009, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe initiated a dialogue on the human rights of minorities and subsequently published his report on this issue. The Commissioner focused on and provided recommendations on a number of major issues, namely, he recommended the creation and implementation of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, the ratification of Protocol N12 to ECHR and Turkey’s accession to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
In its third Report on Turkey (adopted on 25 June 2004) the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) emphasised the need to reinforce respect for the rights of immigrants, irrespective of their legal status, asylum seekers and refugees.
ECRI also recommends that the Turkish authorities ratify Protocol N12 to the ECHR as soon as possible. It recommended to the Turkish authorities to:
1. make the declaration under Article 14 of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, empowering the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to receive individual communications,
2. consider withdrawing their reservations in respect of Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,
3. sign and ratify UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education, Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level and the European Convention on Nationality,
4. sign and ratify Convention on Cybercrime and its Additional Protocol on the criminalisation of acts of a racist or xenophobic nature committed through computer networks.
I believe that the Council of Europe should immediately take adequate steps to influence the Government of Turkey to abstain from public threats or actions of racist or discriminatory nature. For your information I’ve attached to this letter appendix, which contains the declarations and reservations of the Republic of Turkey to some of the most important international treaties dealing with the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination and rights of migrants.
Head of the PACE Armenian delegation
Visit www.parliament.am for appendix.