Warns of Turkey’s Efforts to Block Decisive International Action to Stop Darfur Genocide

February 20, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) alerted Members of Congress this week to the human costs of the emerging axis of genocide forming between the governments of Turkey and Sudan, warning that Ankara is playing an increasingly dangerous role in blocking decisive international action to end the genocide in Darfur.

The genocidal Ankara and Khartoum regimes have grown markedly closer over the past two years, driven by Turkey’s increasingly brazen efforts to undermine the international community’s efforts to end the cycle of genocide. The main three areas of cooperation between the two countries have been:

1) Turkey’s sale of lethal weaponry directly to Sudan.

2) Turkish diplomatic support for the Sudanese government’s genocide denials.

3) Turkey’s use of its UN Security Council seat to block anti-genocide efforts.

In recent weeks, Turkey came under considerable international scrutiny for hosting Sudanese Vice-President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha, who, during a meeting with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, asked Turkey to use its position on the UN Security Council to block any possible attempts to arrest Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir on charges of genocide. During his visit, Taha and his delegation also met with Turkish Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan and signed a cooperation protocol between their two parliaments, expanding the number of visits and improving ties between the legislative bodies.

Rep. Pallone Raises Concerns:

Speaking on the floor of the U.S. House on February 13th, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) sharply criticized Turkey for failing to stand up against, or even to recognize, the Darfur Genocide, noting that Ankara is actually strengthening its ties to Khartoum. “Last year,” he noted, “Turkish President Abdullah Gul warmly welcomed Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to Ankara. Yet, Al-Bashir continues to preside over a genocidal regime responsible for the deaths of 300,000 Sudanese people in the Darfur region of the country. Today, 2.7 million Darfuris have lost their homes since the conflict and now live in internally displaced persons camps. While all of this happens, President Gul of Turkey has said that the situation in Darfur adds up to a ‘humanitarian tragedy’ caused by economic difficulties.”

The New Jersey legislator, who co-chairs the Armenian Caucus, added that, “President Gul greeted the Sudanese leader with a military guard of honor only bestowed on Turkey’s closest allies. While the international community fiercely works to contain al-Bashir’s government, Turkey embraces it. Both governments have a long history of genocide denial.”

“One Would Think Turkey’s Leaders Would Be a Little More Careful”:

In commentaries published as far back as last January, foreign policy experts have been warning of the dangers of the Turkey-Sudan relationship. Writing about Sudanese President Al Bashir’s warm welcome during a recent trip to Ankara, (Bashir in Turkey: The Unanswered Questions, The Century Foundation), former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Morton Abramowitz, traditionally a reliable surrogate for Turkey’s interests in Washington, wrote in 2008 that, “One would think Turkey’s leaders would be a little more careful before laying down the red carpet for the likes of President Omar al Bashir of Sudan.” He added that, “Turkey has been trying to persuade the world, not very successfully, that there was no Armenian genocide in 1915. The picture of President Abdullah Gül smiling at a joint press conference is hardly going to convince skeptics that Turkey even knows what genocide means, and it will certainly raise doubts in supporters of Turkey.”

Additional points along the Axis of Genocide include:

— Sudan President al-Bashir’s first foreign visit after his indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on crimes of genocide was to Turkey.

— Sudan and Turkey have signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen military relations and are discussing cooperation on military technology transfers and training.

— Turkey’s Minister of Trade projects that Sudan will soon be Turkey’s largest trading partner in Africa.

— Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has vocally denied a genocide in Darfur.

— Despite calls from human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch, Turkish President Gul has not put pressure on Sudan to end the atrocities in Darfur, but instead claiming that the hundreds of thousands of deaths there were merely a “humanitarian tragedy” that “is not only a matter of politics, but also stems from poverty and environmental conditions.”

Click here to view the 3-page ANCA memo on the Turkey-Sudan axis of genocide, including a comparison of Turkish and Sudanese genocide denials.


For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Email / Tel: (202) 775-1918 / (703) 585-8254 cell
Armenian National Committee of America
1711 N Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036
Tel. (202) 775-1918 * Fax. (202) 775-5648 *
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