By Hambersom Aghbashian

Akın Birdal (born 2 January 1948, Niğde Province, Turkey) is a Turkish human rights activist and politician. He was a member of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey for the Democratic Society Party (DTP) (2007 to 2009) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) from 2009 to 2011. He is an honorary President of the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD), having been its Chair from 1992 to 1998. He has published a number of essays and short stories. Birdal is an agricultural engineer by training, graduated from Ankara University Faculty of Agriculture, Soil Science Department. He went on to do a master’s degree in business at the University of Gazi. His academic career, begun in 1979, was cut short by the 1980 Turkish coup d’état. Birdal co-founded the Human Rights Association of Turkey in 1986, and became its Secretary-General. He was elected its Chairman in 1992. On 12 May 1998, Birdal barely survived an assassination attempt. The Turkish Revenge Brigade claimed responsibility. In 1999 he was sentenced to 20 months’ imprisonment under Article 312 (of which he served 14 months). He was adopted as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. In 2002 Birdal was one of the founders of the Socialist Democratic Party, becoming its chairman, but stepped down after becoming Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights. In July 2007, he stood as an independent candidate and entered the Turkish Parliament, representing Diyarbakır. He was awarded Jaime Brunet Prize for Human Rights (1999).

On February 9, 2001, “” posted its article “Turkey lashes out over genocide charges” where it was mentioned “The human rights activist, Akın Birdal, faces a possible sentence of six years in prison for the offense of “openly insulting and vilifying Turkishness” during a panel discussion in Germany last year. According to the Anatolia news agency, the Turkish prosecutor quoted Birdal as having said: “Everybody knows what was done to the Armenians. Turkey must apologize for what it did to the minorities.”(1)

In “A Handy List of Turkish Turncoats”, “”, ‘Akın Birdal, Writer, Honorary President of the Human Rights Association’ is listed with many other Turkish intellectuals as turncoats for supporting the Armenian cause, recognizing the Armenian Genocide and criticizing the Turkish government and the officials as they never seem to comprehend the importance of self-criticism concerning their past, and for Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide.(2)

According to a press release on March 2001, “The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) called on the U.S. State Department to protest the prosecution of a Turkish human rights activist on charges that he had called on Turkey to apologize for the Armenian Genocide. The activist, Akın Birdal, is the former president of the Istanbul-based Human Rights Association and Turkey’s leading human rights advocate,” it mentioned, and added “The Armenian Genocide-related charges currently against him carry a maximum prison sentence of six years. According to a March 1st Associated Press (AP) article, Birdal’s lawyer Sedat Aslantas said earlier that his client had made remarks about Turkey’s treatment of minorities in general and not particularly the Armenians.” The AP story also noted that “dozens of writers, journalists and intellectuals have been jailed under Turkish laws which limit freedom of speech.”(3)

In her article “They say ‘incident’. To me it’s genocide”, (The Guardian- February 27, 2005), Nouritza Matossian mentioned the following concerning Orhan Pamuk’s trial for his one sentence in an interview with the Swiss newspaper Tagesanzeiger as he mentioned that ‘Thirty thousand Kurds and a million Armenians were killed in Turkey.’ Matossian wrote “Akın Birdal, vice-president of the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, emphasizes: ‘No matter we have come to the 90th year of “incidents” Orhan Pamuk talked about, these will of course be discussed on domestic and international platforms. The aggressions carried out against Pamuk are those which have been carried out against thoughts. Pamuk is not alone.’ Pamuk has cut the Gordian knot. He has become the hero of every right-thinking person in Turkey and every Armenian worldwide.(4)

Edmond Y. Azadian wrote an article on March 20, 2014 in The Armenian Mirror- Spectator under the title “From Talat to Erdogan – The Same Old Racist Genocidal Policy,” the follwing are some abstracts: “On March 16, Erdogan gave an interview to the BBC threatening to expel “100,000 illegal migrant workers from Armenia. We close our eyes to their situation, but what am I going to do tomorrow? If necessary, I will tell them, ‘get out and go to your country.’ They are not my citizens; I am not obliged to keep them in our country.” He added “ Akın Birdal, representing the Peace and Democracy party in the parilament, has said that this blackmail raises the question whether we are returning to 1915.”(5)

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