Former HDP executives indicted for referring to WWI killings of Armenians as ‘genocide’

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Eleven former executives from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have been indicted on charges of insulting the Turkish nation for referring to the killings of Armenians during World War I as “genocide” in a statement last year, Turkish Minute reported, citing the T24 news website.

The former HDP Central Executive Board (MYK) members are accused in the indictment drafted by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of insulting the Turkish nation, the Republic of Turkey, the Turkish Parliament and government and legal institutions of the state in a press statement they made on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day on April 24, 2021.

The charges are based on Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which stipulates a prison sentence of between six months and two years for insulting “Turkishness” and the Turkish state.

According to the indictment, the former HDP officials referred to the killings of Armenians during the final days of the Ottoman Empire as “genocide,” a term categorically rejected by Turkey, in the statement.

“Turkey hasn’t confronted the Armenian Genocide for 106 years. … The Armenian Genocide is, first and foremost, a humanitarian, legal and social issue that needs to be confronted and accepted fairly today. … The Armenian Genocide took place in these lands and justice for it must be provided here,” the defendants were quoted as saying in the indictment.

“The legal order does not protect the members of a political party … working against the interests of the Turkish Nation and the State of the Republic of Turkey. In this context, it is clear that the statements … are against the national interests of the Turkish Nation and historical facts,” the indictment said.

The Armenians — supported by historians and scholars — say 1.5 million of their people died in a genocide committed by the İttihat Terakki government of the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

Turkey accepts that both Armenians and Turks died in huge numbers as Ottoman forces fought czarist Russia. But Ankara vehemently denies a deliberate policy of genocide.

In 2021 US President Joe Biden became the first US leader to use the term “genocide” in an annual message on the anniversary of the 1915-1916 massacres, drawing criticism from Turkey.

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