Ankara State Prosecution has prepared a summary of proceedings against 26 Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Central Executive Committee members for using the term “Armenian genocide” in a statement on 24 April, the anniversary of the start of the massacre. The prosecution is asking for approval to conduct an investigation under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which has been a matter of major controversy for many years.
Asking Turkey’s Minister of Justice to approve the launch of the investigations, the prosecution stated in its summary of proceedings that according to the UN Convention of 1948, “the term ‘genocide’ cannot be used for the painful incidents experienced before this date, the claim is untrue.”
The investigation is to be conducted on the grounds that the HDP MPs “insulted the Turkish state” as defined in Article 301.
The following sentences are included in the summary of proceedings: “The statements put the Turkish nation and the state of the Republic of Turkey, under suspicion. It is unacceptable for a person who is an MP in the Republic of Turkey to make statements that are contrary to the interests of the nation. It is understood that the HDP politicians publicly insulted the Turkish nation and the Republic of Turkey.”
The massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during World War I has been a matter heated debate in both domestic and international contexts. Although many European countries have recognised what happened in 1915 as genocide, Turkey has never accepted this.
US President Joe Biden made a statement officially recognising the Armenian Genocide on 24 April this year. “We remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring,” said Biden in the statement.
In their own statement, the HDP called on Turkey to recognise the Armenian Genocide, eliciting strong reactions from the government officials.
Although Turkey accepts that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces in World War One, it denies the systematic killings that constitute genocide.