BERLIN, June 12 (UPI) — Eleven German MPs of Turkish origin are under police protection after voting in support of declaring the Turkish slaughter of Armenians a century ago a genocide.
The vote outraged the Turkish government, which doesn’t recognize the 1915 massacre on those terms and doesn’t agree with most estimates of the number of Armenians actually killed by the Ottoman Turks.
It’s the latest salvo in an increasing war of words between the governments in Berlin and Ankara, since the German parliament announced last month it would bring a resolution defining the 1915 massacre by the Ottoman Turks as a genocide.
The 11 MPs voting in support of the resolution have faced heavy criticism from Turkish officials as well as Turkish Germans. Ankara’s mayor tweeted the MPs “stabbed us in the back.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked “What sort of Turks are they?”
“The threats against lawmakers of Turkish origin are unacceptable,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told Frankfurt Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. He also said most of the 3.5 million Turkish Germans were “good neighbors.”
Germany’s Green Party leader, Cem Ozdemir – who initiated the resolution told a newspaper he had been sent emails saying things like: “We will find you anywhere.”
Armenians estimate as many as 1.5 million of their people were slaughtered in 1915, as the Ottoman Empire collapsed during World War I. However, the Turkish government has put the death toll much lower.