Turkish politician expelled from Belgium party over 1915 events

Turkish politician expelled from Belgium party over 1915 events
08:37 30 May 2015
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A Turkish member of the Belgian parliament was expelled from her political party on Friday for not recognizing the 1915 events concerning Armenians Anadolu Agency reported

Mahinur Ozdemir, who is the first woman with a headscarf to become member of the Belgian parliament, told Anadolu Agency that she refused to recognize the 1915 events as “genocide” and was later expelled by a committee from her party, the Humanist Democratic Centre (CHD).

President of the CHD, Benoit Lutgen, said last week that any member of the CHD who denied what he called ‘the Armenian genocide’ would be expelled from the party.

Ozdemir, who did not attend a standing ovation to commemorate the 1915 events, said there is no court order that enforces one to recognize the events concerning Armenians and that the European Parliament’s resolution in April for recognition of the 1915 events is not binding.

Ozdemir told Anadolu Agency that CHD President Lutgen wanted her to sign a communique recognizing the 1915 events and told her she would be expelled from the party if she refused.

She said her response to Lutgen was: "I stand by my opinions on this issue. I will not give up. I stand upright [for the right to] freedom of expression."

"Unfortunately the Humanist Democratic Centre [Party] took a decision which is incompatible with humanism and democracy, and proved it does not harbor Europe’s fundamental value of freedom of expression," Ozdemir said.

Turkish nationals in Belgium say they experience rising intolerance against a different view of what happened in 1915.

In a rally event called "Listen to me also", around 3,000 Turkish nationals gathered in Brussels last week and protested the notion that parliamentarians from various countries -- rather than historians -- have voted to determine what is or what is not a genocide, in this case concerning the Armenian deaths in 1915.

Turkey and Armenia disagree on what happened during the events between 1915 and 1923. Armenia says that 1.5 million people were deliberately killed, while Turkey says the death toll is exaggerated and deaths were a result of relocations and civil strife.

Armenia has demanded an apology and compensation, while Turkey has officially refuted Armenian allegations over the incidents saying that, although Armenians died during the relocations, many Turks also lost their lives in attacks carried out by Armenian gangs in Anatolia.

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