Kurdish lawyers group investigated for pro-Armenian genocide statement

A Turkish prosecutor started an investigation into the Diyarbakır Bar Association for a statement it made on the Armenian genocide, news website Diken reported on Monday.

The prosecutor’s office in Diyarbakır, a predominantly ethnic Kurdish city in Turkey’s southeast, is probing the lawyers’ group on charges of insulting the Turkish nation, the Republic of Turkey and state bodies and institutions, Diken said.

The association issued a statement on April 24 saying: “We share the pain of the great calamity” and calling on Turkey to “confront the shame of the crime committed against Armenian society”.

The group published the statement on the day that U.S. President Joe Biden recognised the atrocities that began in 1915 as genocide. Armenians say around 1.5 million people were killed or died in forced marches in a planned and coordinated operation.

“Hundreds of thousands of Armenians - our friends, confidants, neighbours - were killed or left for dead… on their way to exile,” the lawyers said.

Turkey acknowledges that deaths and expulsions of Ottoman Armenians occurred between 1915 and 1923 but maintains that the killings were not organised and systematic. It says there were casualties on both sides after Armenians sided with Russia in World War I.

“Truth doesn’t change, whether we call what happened Medz Yeghern like its victims call it, or Fermana Fılla like our grandparents called it, or a genocide,” the lawyers said.

“The American people honour all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today,” Biden said in the statement on Saturday, which marked Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. He became the first American president to officially recognise the deaths as genocide.