By Emre Demir, Basri Doðan, Strasbourg, Amsterdam

Zaman Online, Turkey
Sept 28 2006

As the European Union presses Ankara for a revision of Article 301
of the Turkish Penal Code that limits free speech, Turks are facing
their own difficulties in the Netherlands.

Three Turkish-origin candidates were removed from their party lists in
the Netherlands for the Nov. 22 early parliamentary elections on the
pretext that they did not acknowledge the purported Armenian genocide.

Removing the Turkish-origin candidates from party lists was a result of
efforts of the Armenian lobby in the Netherlands, and the move provoked
angry responses from Turkish-origin citizens and Turks in the country.

The Christian Democrat Party received a letter last week from the
Armenian lobby that said there was a strong connection between the
ideas of the Turkish candidates and the policies of Turkish officials
in Ankara.

The three Turkish candidates were expected to win seats in the
parliament, but they were removed from their party lists because
they did not want to acknowledge that there was an Armenian genocide,
reporters said.

Leaders of the Turkish society in the Netherlands categorized the
decision to remove the three Turkish candidates from the election as
"'a shame" and "racist."

"Some of the young Turks wanting to be involved in politics here
faced a choice between politics and acknowledgment of the Armenian
genocide. This means that the notions of democracy and freedom
of thought are applicable only to the kind of people who are born
European; in other words, this is without doubt a double standard
and discrimination. What's more, this is racism," said Kasim Akdemir,
chairman of the Turkish Islamic Cultural Association Federation.

Officials from the parties that removed the Turkish candidates from
their candidate lists argue that the Dutch government officially
acknowledges the purported Armenian genocide, an argument based on
a recommendation that the Christian Union Party offered on Dec 21,
2004 for parliamentary discussions, and which also received complete
approval from other political parties.

Removal of the three Turkish candidates drew attention to other
Turkish-origin candidates.

The Social Democrat Labor Party has Nebahat Albayrak placed second
on its list, along with three more candidates on the list.

These three other candidates are Keklik Yucel, placed 48th, Ali Sarac,
placed 61st, and Huri Sahin, placed 76th.

Coskun Coruz is another Turkish candidate that the Christian Democrat
Party put on its list, placed 19th.

Derya Bulduk, a Belgian politician of Turkish origin, had to bow to
pressure from her own party when she "denied" the existence of the
Armenian genocide.

"This Incident Violates Freedom of Speech"

Some members from the European Parliament (EP) characterized the
removal of the three Turkish candidates as a violation of the freedom
of expression.

Vural Oger, a Turkish member of the EP, sharply condemned the decision
to stop the three Turks from running for elections. Joost Lagendijk,
chair of the Joint Parliamentary Committee with Turkey, expressed
unease with the kind of things happening in the Netherlands and further
said that denial of the right to run for elections because of different
ideas was a clear infringement of the freedom of expression.

Cem Ozdemir, another EP member, found neither the Turkish nor the
European approaches correct to the matter at hand and defied the
argument that prohibitions would not work.

News of the three Turkish candidates excluded from their party lists
came when the EP voted on a report regarding Turkey.

The EP has a report on Turkey that sharply criticizes the Turkish
government for allowing the freedom of expression to be violated by
keeping Article 301 in its Penal Code.

"Did the Netherlands account for what it did in Indonesia, Italy
in Libya, France in Algeria, and Spain in South America? Why is
it only Turkey that is pressed to account for what it did in the
past?" asked Oger.

Shocked, Lagendijk said that he had his own system of thinking about
this issue that neither went with Turkey nor Armenia, and backed up
Erdogan's recommendation to set up a joint commission.

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