The leader of Germany’s Green Party is under police protection following death threats received in the wake of the German parliament’s vote to recognize the World War I-era Ottoman Turk mass killings of ethnic Armenians as genocide.
Party leader Cem Ozdemir’s spokesman was quoted by Die Welt on June 5 as saying “we have never experienced such a high number of death threats.”
Germany’s Bundestag on June 2 nearly unanimously adopted a Green Party resolution to recognize the killings of some 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire as genocide.
Turkey, the Ottoman successor state, says that Armenians died in much smaller numbers and because of civil strife rather than a planned Ottoman government effort to annihilate the Christian minority.
On June 4, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that “the Armenian issue is used all over the world as a convenient instrument for blackmailing Turkey.”
“We will never accept the accusations of genocide,” he said. Erdogan added that, given Germany’s own record during World War II, it has no right to comment on the killings of Armenians.
With the June 2 vote, Germany became the 23rd country to label the mass killings as genocide.