Turks protest German government’s decision over 1915 events

Turks who live in Germany rally in Berlin against the government’s decision to call the events of 1915 “genocide”

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Around 10,000 Turks gathered on the central street of Berlin, Saturday, holding photos and posters with quotes saying, “Stop slandering Turkish history” and “Peace at home, peace in the world.”

Turkish people who live all around Germany gathered to participate in the protest. The protestors shouted slogans like “We defended our homeland, but we did not commit genocide.” Participants of the rally thought that the government’s decision could alienate three million ethnic Turks who lived in Germany from the rest of the society.

Organizers believed that the rally was one of the largest gatherings for Turkish immigrants in Germany. The director of the Turkish Community in Berlin, Bekir Yılmaz mentioned the meaning of the motion for Turks in Germany. He said, ones who decide the nature of the events of 1915 should be historians, not politicians. “Nobody can impose anything on us by such motions, but these can further harm integration, immigrants feel that they are not accepted in society, but are always blamed for something,” he said.

A 56-year-old man who participated in the rally said he has lived in Germany for 48 years. "I have not seen such a big disgrace. I believe that they are [making] such decisions, because they don’t like Turks, they do not want us here. But they also cannot do without us,” he said.

German President Joachim Gauck said the alleged death of 1.5 million Ottoman Armenians during the civil war in eastern Anatolia in 1915 was a “genocide” Thursday. His speech came on the 100th anniversary since the incidents, which saw scores of ethnic Armenians who lost their lives in the context of a war with ethnic Turks, who also suffered massacres at the hands of Russian-backed Armenian militias.

The Republic of Turkey, which was born out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire after its collapse in 1923, has refused to define the events a genocide, while acknowledging and expressing grief over the death of Armenians a century ago.

During World War I the Ottomans relocated the Armenian people from Eastern Anatolia. The relocation caused casualties on both sides, and defining the nature of those events has become a point of dispute between the Armenian and Turkish government.

TRTWorld and agencies