Turkey Minorities and Democracy

Armenians in Turkey

Armenians in Turkey

The Armenians are a very culturally rich and ancient ethnic group. They originally come from the south of the Caucasus and eastern Anatolia. Its first own state, founded in 301 AD, was the first Christian state in the world. The ethnic group itself has existed since the 7th century BC. In the 11th century Armenia was conquered by the Turkic tribe of the Seljuks. The country was divided, Eastern Armenia is still independent today and is called the Republic of Armenia. But not all Armenians lived in this state from then on. Many Armenians spread across Europe and Asia and formed minorities there.

With their status as a minority, the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, for example, repeatedly fell victim to fanatical rulers. At the beginning of the First World War in 1914, the number of Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire was estimated at between one and almost two million people. Although the Armenians had spread out, their long history developed into a very unique and diverse culture.

This development was largely ended at the beginning of 1925 with the genocide of the Armenians. The Armenian genocide killed between 800,000 and 1.5 million people between 1915 and 1916. The mass murder began with the arrest of Armenian politicians and clergymen by the Turkish military. The Armenians were accused of supporting Russia, the enemy of the war. These arrests led to the murder of other members of the Armenian ruling class and, ultimately, to the displacement and murder of civilians.

For many historians, this mass murder was the first mass murder of the 20th century. Major Turkish politicians, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, do not recognize the event as mass murder. The whole thing is not only a historical, but also a political matter. Turkey feels attacked by the accusation that it has committed genocide. Germany, an important political partner, wants to do well with the country, but on the other hand does not want to ignore any historical facts. So the issue is politically very explosive.

Today around 70,000 Armenians live in Turkey, almost all of them in the city of Istanbul. In this progressive city, they have better opportunities to live out their own culture and language, for example in Armenian-speaking schools.

Armenians in Turkey

Kurds in Turkey

Actually, Kurds should be treated in the same way before the law in Turkey as all other people in the country. Unfortunately, that is not the case at all. It is more difficult for Kurds to find a job, and Kurdish children are repeatedly discriminated against at school. Some parents no longer teach their children the Kurdish language because they want to make life easier for them, so they speak Turkish instead. So, of course, a large part of Kurdish culture is lost. For more information about Turkey and Asia, please visit internetsailors.

The PKK, the Kurdish Workers’ Party, has been enemies with the ruling AKP party for a long time. In 2013, however, the two parties made advances and it should be made easier for the Kurds to live out their own culture in Turkey. These improvements in the Turkish-Kurdish relationship are progressing very slowly, however. They are made more difficult by terrorist attacks by the PKK and attacks on Kurdish fighters, for example in Syria by the Turkish military.

Freedom of expression and freedom of the press

Turkey is a candidate for EU membership. In order to actually achieve accession to the EU, however, many improvements still have to be made in the country. At the moment, however, the country is far from it, as democratic conditions have deteriorated considerably recently. Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are actually guaranteed in the constitution.

It happened more and more often that media companies were bought up by companies. Many of these companies are very close to the ruling AKP party. The government has achieved that through a few tricks in the legal formulations dissident journalists detained may be. The freedom of the press and freedom of expression is still very poor in Turkey.

The father of the Turks

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is a personality that is impossible to avoid in Turkey. The so-called “father of the Turks” is the country’s founder. You can read more about this at History.

There is not a single city in Turkey that does not have at least one monument to Ataturk. You can find pictures of the politician in every public institution and people hang pictures of him in private homes too.

A politician adored like a pop star

This worship can be described as a “personality cult”, because Ataturk is worshiped like a pop star. But that’s also how you can quickly make yourself unpopular if you criticize the popular founder of the state in Turkey.