As we have reported in Massispost On Wednesday January 12 Turkish-German political figure was forced to recognize the Armenian Genocide so that he can win the nomination of The Left party in Hamburg State Parliament. Following are more details about this news story:
The socialist-leaning opposition party, Die Linke (The Left), entered the Hamburg state parliament for the first time in August 2008. One of their eight elected representatives was Mehmat Yildiz, an immigrant from Turkey. A week before the election, candidate Yildiz was asked if he considered the [World War I period] crimes against Armenians as genocide. The question was published on a website, where citizens could ask politicians questions and they could answer. Yildiz left the question on genocide unanswered. Almost three years have passed since then.
After the coalition government of Christian Democrats and Greens ended prematurely at the close of 2010, a new election for Hamburg was scheduled for February 20, 2011. In August, it became known that the Turkish representative intended to run for re-election. Toros Sarian, the Hamburg-based publisher of the online magazine, Hayastaninfo.net, who had posed the question back in 2008, repeated his question on December 16, 2010 and demanded a clear answer.
In early January, Sarian decided to run as an independent candidate against Yildiz, during the party congress on January 8-9, 2011. At the same time, the refusal of the representative to acknowledge the genocide was criticized on the internet. The growing pressure finally led to Yildiz’s decision on January 7, — that is, a day before the party congress opened, — to issue a statement reflecting his position on the internet. In it, he wrote: “The crime of the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians in 1915 during the imperialist First World War is a dark chapter in Turkey’s history. In my understanding, Armenians were victims of state terror and were forced to endure great suffering. I am very shocked by this great suffering and condemn the state-organized violence and massacres against the Armenians and their systematic expulsion from Anatolia. For me it was ethnic cleansing, which should be clearly condemned.” The crime was thus not classified as genocide.
Some groups and associations issued a call to the delegates at the party congress. It mentioned that earlier during the election for the Berlin parliament, a well-known Turkish genocide denier had been elected as a candidate of the Left Party. The appeal called on the party not to accept anyone in its ranks who did not recognize the genocide. On January 8, young members of the Armenian community in Hamburg distributed this leaflet to the delegates of the party congress. Two prominent members of the party leadership from Berlin, who were guests at the Hamburg congress, also received the leaflet.
The groups and associations who signed the call announced in its conclusion that they would launch protests in the event Yildiz was to continue to refuse to recognize the genocide. It was recalled that there had been a campaign back at the end of 2006 against genocide denier Hakki Keskin. At that time, the leadership of the party’s Bundestag faction came under considerable public pressure.
On January 9, 2011, the candidates for the February 20 election were nominated. In his speech, independent candidate Sarian criticized the Turkish candidate Yildiz for refusing to acknowledge the genocide. The combination of the leaflet distribution a day earlier and Sarian’s speech led to the desired result: Yildiz, who two days earlier did not want to speak of genocide, declared before television cameras, Turkish journalists, and the delegates, that he and his party did recognize the genocide against the Armenians.
Apparently, significant pressure had been brought to bear on him by the party leadership, for, how could one otherwise explain such a sudden change of heart? For three years he had remained silent, then, a day before the party congress, he had issued a statement in which he avoided the use of the term genocide. This apparently was not sufficient for the party leadership. They then prevailed on him to give a clear answer to the genocide question. Only in this way could the feared protests of the Armenians be averted.
A day after the party congress had ended, a report appeared in the big Turkish daily newspaper, Sabah. In it, one could read that Mehmet Yildiz had recognized the genocide. The newspaper also carried this surprising statement by Yildiz: “Germany has acknowledged the Second World War elimination of the Jews and has made reparations. If the genocide against the Armenians is proven, then Turkey will also have to be punished” (Sabah, January 10, 2011).
For the first time, a Turkish politician abroad has acknowledged that Turkey must make reparations to the descendants of the survivors of the crime, just as Germany had done in the case of the Jews. In letters to the editor, his position came under heavy criticism. One reader wrote: “If that’s what he believes, then he should pay the Armenians the required reparations out of his own pocket!”
The well-known Turkish newspapers Hürriyet and Cumhuriyet also carried the news that Mehmet Yildiz had recognized the genocide. Some Turkish media merely reported on the nomination of the Turkish candidate at the party congress. They did not go into the statement he had made about genocide.