The Sabah newspaper, owned by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s close allies the Kalyon group and run by his in-laws the Albayrak family, accused the leader of the Netherlands’ People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) of terrorism in a video published on Wednesday.
VVD’s new leader Dilan Yeşilgöz, born in Turkey to Kurdish-Alevi parents who sought asylum in the Netherlands, currently serves as the Justice Minister in her adopted homeland and has a strong chance of being elected Prime Minister in the November elections.
According to the pro-Erdoğan newspaper, Yeşilgöz is “known for her animosity against Turks”, and her father is a member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Yeşilgöz “continues the mission of her terror supporting father and is at the same time a strong supporter of the LGBT”, Sabah said.
The Turkish government and pro-government media have been targeting the LGBT community in Turkey for a long time, saying they were “deviants” and threatening to cull the already limited rights non-heterosexual, non-cis persons hold in the country.
“Yeşilgöz claims to fight for the freedom of everybody, including homosexuals. But her promise of freedom for all doesn’t include Muslims, let us remind you,” the newspaper said. “When she was made justice minister, the first thing she did was to ban headscarves for police officers.”
Last year, with Yeşilgöz at the helm, the Dutch ministry banned all religious symbols, including hijabs, yarmulkes and crucifixes, from the uniforms of patrolling officers. The officers are still able to wear their religious items in non-public facing roles.
“You can say many things about Yeşilgöz, but ‘enemy of Turks’ is not one of them. The Armenian Genocide did happen of course. Her father was a unionist, not a PKK member,” Dutch journalist and Medya News contributor Frederike Geerdink said in a tweet.
In 2018, Yeşilgöz voted in favour of the Netherlands recognising the 1915 Armenian Genocide, and was seen posing in front of a photo of an elderly Armenian woman taken in the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which Armenians call Artsakh. Sabah said the photo hanged in Yeşilgöz’s office.
The minister’s father Yücel Yeşilgöz was an active member of the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK), the largest workers’ organisation in Turkey’s private sector. He is a lawyer and an academic, who has taught Turkish literature and criminology in Dutch universities since 1984, when the family sought asylum following the military coup in Turkey.
“What Yeşilgöz means when she says ‘everybody’ is this: Those who think like her, and those who live like her,” Sabah said, with images of dancing PKK guerrillas and an LGBT pride parade in the background.
Yeşilgöz started her political career in the Netherlands in the Socialist Party (SP), followed by the social-democratic Labour Party (PvdA) and the Greens, before settling in the centre-right VVD. She identifies as a liberal, and says she believes in “the power of the individual and personal responsibility”, and criticises the left as forcing a “victim-mentality” on individuals.
The Kurdish-Dutch minister is also known for her anti-migration policies. If her party wins, she will be the first female prime minister in the country.