The government of Turkey has been shouting to whoever will listen for two weeks now about how its aid flotilla to Gaza was a humanitarian mission to an occupied people. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears quite concerned for the people of Gaza who are, he claims, suffering under occupation.
Indeed, we have been touched by Erdogan’s concern for people in occupied land, which is why we fully support the creation of a massive aid flotilla to a people who have lived under occupation for almost 40 years by a country that claims half of the indigenous people’s land as its own. We speak, of course, of the citizens of Cyprus, who have lived under Turkish occupation since 1974.
Only Turkey recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, created after that country invaded the Greek island and deposed its ruler, President and Archbishop Makarios III, and divided the Greek isle. The events that led to the invasion are, of course, more complicated than can be elaborated on here, but the short take is that Turkish forces declared themselves the independent rulers of part of the island.
Then there is the matter of Turkey’s bloody past: the Armenian genocide, long a taboo topic in American and Israeli political circles because of the delicate relationship with Turkey. Now that Turkey appears to have realigned itself with Iran – seemingly leaving the derech of westernization and its quest for membership in the European Union – we have seen American and Israeli leaders begin calling Turkey on its past crimes.
We want to see more.
In April of 1915, Ottoman authorities arrested more than 250 Armenians and then initiated a series of deportations, death marches, and massacres that resulted in the deaths of at least 500,000 Armenians.
Turkey, the successor to the Ottoman Empire, denies that the word genocide is appropriate to describe these events.
We urge the United States, Israel, and the international community to call Turkey to task for its crimes past and present. For Israel to be judged by countries with such horrific human rights records – need we even begin the list of Iran’s crimes? – is laughable at best and perverse at worst.