Taner Akcam: Turkey’s Human Rights Hypocrisy





Taner Akcam, a professor of history at Clark University, is the author of “The Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire.”

A NEW political order is emerging in the Middle East, and Turkey aspires to be its leader by taking a stand against authoritarian regimes. Earlier this week, Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, went so far as to denounce the Syrian government’s continuing massacres of civilians as “attempted genocide.”

Turkey’s desire to champion human rights in the region is a welcome development, but Mr. Erdogan’s condemnation of Syria is remarkably hypocritical. As long as Turkey continues to deny crimes committed against non-Turks in the early 1900s, during the final years of the Ottoman Empire, its calls for freedom, justice and humanitarian values will ring false.

Turkey’s attempt to cultivate an image as the global protector of Muslim rights is compromised by a legacy of ethnic cleansing and genocide against Christians and terror against Arabs and Kurds. Memories of these crimes are very much alive throughout former Ottoman territories. And Turkey cannot serve as a democratic model until it acknowledges that brutal violence, population transfers and genocide underlie the modern Turkish state....




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