World Bulletin / News Desk
Some 10,000 Turkish immigrants rallied in the German capital Berlin on Saturday to protest a controversial parliamentary motion that labels the events of 1915 as “genocide.”
Bekir Yilmaz, director of the Turkish Community in Berlin, said the draft motion was “one-sided” and has tried to put all the blame on the Turkish side, ignoring thousands of Muslim victims during the events that took place during World War I.
“The great majority of the Turkish community members in Germany attach great importance to their history, their national and moral values,” Yilmaz told The Anadolu Agency, during the rally. “We believe that it should be historians who should pass judgment on history, not politicians.”
He also called on German lawmakers to stop their controversial initiative.
During World War I, the relocation by the Ottomans of Armenians in eastern Anatolia following the revolts resulted in numerous casualties, but the term “genocide” is disputed among historians and remains a source of tension between Turkey and Armenia.
Turkey objects to the presentation of the incidents as "genocide" and describes the 1915 events as a tragedy for both sides.
The German parliament has begun last week a discussion on a motion to describe the Armenian tragedy as “genocide” to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1915 events.
German President Joachim Gauck has used the term “genocide” last week at a memorial service at the historical Berlin Cathedral on the centenary of the events.
But German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed discomfort on Friday about the ongoing political debate, and said reducing the Armenian debate to the “genocide” label was not helping in reconciliation efforts between Turks and Armenians.
Yilmaz said that the politicization of the tragedies of 1915 may further alienate Germany’s three-million-strong ethnic Turks, who, he said, have already felt discriminated against by growing racism and Islamophobia.
“Nobody can impose anything on us by such motions, but these can further harm integration,” Yilmaz said. “Immigrants feel that they are not accepted in society, but are always blamed for something.”
Protesters rallied in central Berlin on Saturday with flags of Turkey, carrying posters reading, “Stop slandering Turkish history,” “Imperialism caused pain and sorrow,” “Peace at home, peace in the world.”
They shouted slogans such as, “We defended our homeland, but we did not commit genocide,” “Long live Turkey,” and “Parliaments are not courts, lawmakers are not judges.”
Protesters also carried a poster, which included the names and photos of 31 Turkish diplomats and family members, who were killed by the extremist Armenian terror organization ASALA between 1974 and 1984.
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