1050) Dutch political parties scrap candidates who deny WWI massacre of Armenians was genocide

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands The two largest Dutch political parties have scrapped ethnic Turkish parliamentary candidates who refuse to acknowledge the mass killings of Armenians during World War I amounted to genocide.

The candidates include Ayhan Tonca of the governing Christian Democrat Party. Tonca is one of the country's most prominent Muslim politicians and is chairman of an umbrella organization of Islamic groups known as CMO.

The Christian Democrats also retracted the candidacy of Osman Elmaci, and the opposition Labor Party ended the candidacy of Erdinc Sacan. . .

In their platforms ahead of next month's election, both parties have staked out positions on Turkey's possible entry into the European Union, a divisive issue around the continent.

The Labor Party has adopted a view shared by others in Europe that Turkey should be required to recognize the killings as genocide before it can be allowed to join the EU.

Whether the mass killings of a million or more Armenians in the last years of the Ottoman Empire nearly a century ago constituted a genocide has been the subject of academic and political debate.

The Netherlands and most European governments consider it a genocide. Turkey and many Turkish scholars, and others, vehemently deny the deaths resulted from systematic slaughter, saying the death toll of 1.5 million is wildly inflated and that both Armenians and Turks were killed in fighting during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

The U.S. government has shied away from using the word "genocide" to define the killings.

Earlier this month the European Parliament voted for the inclusion of a clause requiring Turkey "to recognize the Armenian genocide as a condition for its EU accession."

Though their parliamentary runs were ended, the three politicians were not expelled from their parties. None could immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

Tonca and Elmaci had initially said they would assent to the Christian Democrat Party's official position acknowledging the killings as genocide, but both later denied they shared that view in an interview with a Turkish newspaper.

"As a result of an interview in the Turkish paper Sabah, a discussion took place between the party and Mr. Elmaci and Mr. Tonca," the CDA said in a statement. "In this discussion it was determined that there is a structural difference of opinion over recognition of the Armenian Genocide."

It said the men would not be candidates and thanked them for their services.

Labor's Sacan had never accepted his party's position accepting the genocide as a fact.

The Associated Press
September 27, 2006

Turkish candidate penalized for refusing to support Armenian claims

In the Netherlands, a Turkish candidate for MP status in the Social Democrat Workers' Party has been removed from the party's candidate list following his refusal to acknowledge Armenian claims of genocide by Turkey.

Ethnically Turkish Dutch citizen Erdinc Sacan was previously on the list for the upcoming November 22 elections in the Netherlands, this after being elected to a leadership position in 2003 in the Netherland's Brabant State. The leader of the Dutch Social Democrat Workers' Party commented on the situation, saying "It was a difficult decision. But there cannot be any ambiguity within our party with regards to our stance on this question. The fact that Sacan was not giving his support clearly to the party on this position left us with no other choice."

© Copyright 2006 Hürriyet

Armenian Genocide’ Hinders Turkish-Dutch Candidates
As the European Union presses Ankara for a revision of Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code that limits free speech, Turks are facing their own difficulties in the Netherlands.

Three Turkish-origin candidates were removed from their party lists in the Netherlands for the Nov. 22 early parliamentary elections on the pretext that they did not acknowledge the purported Armenian genocide.

Removing the Turkish-origin candidates from party lists was a result of efforts of the Armenian lobby in the Netherlands, and the move provoked angry responses from Turkish-origin citizens and Turks in the country.

The Christian Democrat Party received a letter last week from the Armenian lobby that said there was a strong connection between the ideas of the Turkish candidates and the policies of Turkish officials in Ankara.

The three Turkish candidates were expected to win seats in the parliament, but they were removed from their party lists because they did not want to acknowledge that there was an Armenian genocide, reporters said.

Leaders of the Turkish society in the Netherlands categorized the decision to remove the three Turkish candidates from the election as “‘a shame” and “racist.”

“Some of the young Turks wanting to be involved in politics here faced a choice between politics and acknowledgment of the Armenian genocide. This means that the notions of democracy and freedom of thought are applicable only to the kind of people who are born European; in other words, this is without doubt a double standard and discrimination. What’s more, this is racism,” said Kasim Akdemir, chairman of the Turkish Islamic Cultural Association Federation.

Officials from the parties that removed the Turkish candidates from their candidate lists argue that the Dutch government officially acknowledges the purported Armenian genocide, an argument based on a recommendation that the Christian Union Party offered on Dec 21, 2004 for parliamentary discussions, and which also received complete approval from other political parties.

Removal of the three Turkish candidates drew attention to other Turkish-origin candidates.

The Social Democrat Labor Party has Nebahat Albayrak placed second on its list, along with three more candidates on the list.

These three other candidates are Keklik Yucel, placed 48th, Ali Sarac, placed 61st, and Huri Sahin, placed 76th.

Coskun Coruz is another Turkish candidate that the Christian Democrat Party put on its list, placed 19th.

Derya Bulduk, a Belgian politician of Turkish origin, had to bow to pressure from her own party when she “denied” the existence of the Armenian genocide.

“This Incident Violates Freedom of Speech”

Some members from the European Parliament (EP) characterized the removal of the three Turkish candidates as a violation of the freedom of expression.

Vural Oger, a Turkish member of the EP, sharply condemned the decision to stop the three Turks from running for elections. Joost Lagendijk, chair of the Joint Parliamentary Committee with Turkey, expressed unease with the kind of things happening in the Netherlands and further said that denial of the right to run for elections because of different ideas was a clear infringement of the freedom of expression.

Cem Ozdemir, another EP member, found neither the Turkish nor the European approaches correct to the matter at hand and defied the argument that prohibitions would not work.

News of the three Turkish candidates excluded from their party lists came when the EP voted on a report regarding Turkey.

The EP has a report on Turkey that sharply criticizes the Turkish government for allowing the freedom of expression to be violated by keeping Article 301 in its Penal Code.

“Did the Netherlands account for what it did in Indonesia, Italy in Libya, France in Algeria, and Spain in South America? Why is it only Turkey that is pressed to account for what it did in the past?” asked Oger.

Shocked, Lagendijk said that he had his own system of thinking about this issue that neither went with Turkey nor Armenia, and backed up Erdogan’s recommendation to set up a joint commission.

By Emre Demir, Basri Doğan, Strasbourg, Amsterdam
September 28, 2006


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