ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on Wednesday released a statement on the 104th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, underlining that the victims deserve an apology.
The HDP’s Central Executive Board described the April 24, 1915, genocide as a “great catastrophe” which targeted “ethnicity and faith.”
The HDP said an apology is needed to restore justice to the communities of the victims. “Understanding each other and healing the wounds with a sincere approach are essential steps for a common future,” it added.
“Developing feelings of conscience and justice, and sharing this great pain is also the path to building a democratic, peaceful, and equal future together,” the HDP statement continued.
Giran Ozcan, the HDP’s representative in the United States, told Kurdistan 24 the party represents the transformation of Turkey into a real contemporary democratic republic.
“The first step to doing this is recognizing the dark pages of our own history,” he said. “This includes the massacre of over a million Armenians, the assimilation and oppression of the Kurds, and the suppression of religious freedoms.”
“Only when we as a country – just like many other countries with dark pages in their histories – confront our historical transgressions can we truly transcend them and their legacies.”
However, some believe the HDP’s position could hurt further support from voters of the Turkish middle-class who still deny the massacres were a genocide.
According to Rosa Burç, a Ph.D. researcher of the Center on Social Movement Studies (COSMOS) at Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence, Italy, the HDP has never been a pragmatic party about their principles.
“The party has a strong commitment to the values of multiculturalism, women’s emancipation, and peoples’ reconciliation,” Burç told Kurdistan 24. “The HDP has made clear that societal progress only comes by sharing the sorrow of the ‘other.’”
“The Armenians have been systematically marginalized and discriminated against in modern Turkish history [and] not least have been victims of hate crimes,” she added.
Burç also reminded of the murder of Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist whoa Turkish supremacist with alleged ties to the security forces had assassinated in 2007.
“HDP, as a left alliance, has seen itself as not only the representative of the most marginalized groups within Turkey’s society but also as an advocate for societal peace and reconciliation,” she explained.
“We can see this in both the multi-ethnic set-up of the list of candidates as well as in the party’s ideological point of departure.”
Last year, Istanbul-born Armenian HDP MP Garo Paylan called on Turkey to come to terms with the country’s past and recognize the systematic killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire over a century.
However, other Turkish parties such as the Justice and Development Party (AKP), its far-right opposition ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and the secularist opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), have called on Paylan to apologize for his remarks.
Despite other Armenian MPs within opposition parties, Paylan is the only onewho “brings the Armenian identity on the table and puts the Armenian issue on the agenda,” Burç stated.
The Turkish government refuses to acknowledge its dark past. Indeed, on Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denied a genocide even took place and said no group or state, was able to prove it, according to comments the pro-Turkish government Daily Sabah reported.
“Those who lecture Turkey on human rights, democracy, the Armenian issue, and the fight against terrorism all have a bloody history,” Erdogan said at a public event, in response to France which recognized the genocide this year.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany