Dutch MPs defend expelled Turkish-Belgian politician
Turkish-heritage MP Tunahan Kuzu claims Western Europe has double standards on freedom of expression

A Dutch MP has spoken out in support of a Belgian politician expelled from her party last week accused of genocide denial.

Mahinur Ozdemir, a Turkish-heritage member of the Brussels regional parliament, was thrown out from her Humanist Democratic Centre party (CDH) last Friday over her refusal to recognize the 1915 events during the Ottoman Empire period as ‘genocide’.

Ozdemir, the first woman sporting an Islamic headscarf to become a member of a Belgian assembly, had told Anadolu Agency that she was expelled by a HDC committee.

Now a Dutch MP of Turkish-origin – Tunahan Kuzu – has backed the Belgian politician.

"Political parties want everyone to think same way on specific issues. That does not accord with human rights and freedom," Kuzu told Anadolu Agency.

Kuzu claimed that Western Europe was practicing a double standard about freedom of expression, recalling his own expulsion – along with fellow MP Selcuk Ozturk – from the Dutch Labor Party in November 2014 in a dispute over integration policy.

He said that only historians and scientists could solve the Armenian issue.

Last week, CDH President Benoit Lutgen said that any member of the party who denied what he called "the Armenian genocide” would be expelled.

Ozdemir said there was no court order that could force one to recognize as genocide the events concerning Armenian deaths in 1915; she also claimed a European Parliament resolution in April recognizing the 1915 events as genocide was also non-binding.

The Belgian deputy told Anadolu Agency that CDH Secretary-General Eric Poncin wanted her to sign a statement recognizing the 1915 events as genocide. She claimed that she was told she would be expelled from the party if she refused.

She said her response to Poncin was: "I stand by my opinions on this issue. I will not give up. I stand up [for] freedom of expression."

Ozdemir said that she would continue to highlight issues of discrimination, poverty and unemployment in parliament.

Turkey and Armenia disagree on what happened during the events in Anatolia between 1915 and 1923. Armenia says that 1.5 million people were deliberately killed, while Turkey says the death toll is exaggerated and deaths were a result of relocations and civil strife.

Armenia has demanded an apology and compensation, while Turkey has officially refuted Armenian allegations over the incidents saying that, although Armenians died during the relocations, many Turks also lost their lives in attacks carried out by Armenian gangs in Anatolia.

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Last Modified: 2015-06-01 14:31:32
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