Belgian CDH Party Expells Deputy Denying Armenian Genocide
BELGIUM—Member of the Belgian Parliament Mahinur Özdemir was excluded from her party on May 29, after she refused to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Özdemir refused to acknowledge the genocide during a Belgian TV program aired by RTL-TVi on May 28. Her political party, the Humanist Democratic Center (CDH), decided to expel her from the party, explaining that she does not share the values of CDH. Özdemir received the support of the office of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development (AKP) Party in Brussels.
A statement by the AKP office in Brussels was released on May 30, which read: “The AKP Brussels supports Deputy Mahinur Özdemir. No one should have to express a specific point of view about an event in history to have the right to serve their fellow countrymen in Parliament. The actions of CDH raise the sufferings of a religious and ethnic group above the sufferings of others and silence the ones who have a different point of view.”
The statement further claimed that the decision was an affront to freedom of expression: “By trying to push Ms. Özdemir to sign a document of recognition of the ‘Genocide,’ and by kicking her out of the party after she refused, the CDH simply shows that it does not respect the freedom of conscience and expression in its ranks.” The AKP statement also added, “In Turkey, all opinions about 1915 events are free. The AKP believes that all citizens—especially members of Parliament and politicians—should be able to express themselves freely on these historical issues.”
The Turkish European Democratic Union organized on May 30 a demonstration in support of Özdemir in front of the CDH headquarters in Brussels. A funeral wreath was placed in front of the CDH office. “CDH killed freedom of expression and the fundamental rights of Mahinur Özdemir,” read the words on the wreath.
Özdemir reacted by issuing a statement. “My position has always been to recognize all human tragedies and I respect the memory of all persons who lost their lives,” read the statement, which did not use the word “Genocide.” She also added that even the Belgian government has not recognized the genocide.
In 2009, Özdemir became the first woman wearing a headscarf to be seated at a Belgian Parliamentary Assembly. In 2010, she married a Turkish Parliamentary attaché of the AKP, the Islamic party in power in Turkey. Erdogan, Prime Minister at the time, attended the ceremony.
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