The Turkish Parliament’s Human Rights Investigation Committee has announced that it will closely monitor extreme right and Islamophobic movements in Europe, including hatred and hostility toward European residents of Turkish origin.
Committee president and a deputy of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Ayhan Sefer Üstün said it has launched a program to monitor the course of the investigation into the Oslo massacre. Üstün further stated that they were in contact with Dutch authorities regarding an investigation of police officers thought to be responsible for the death of Turkish immigrant İhsan Gürz in a Dutch prison on July 2.
Speaking to Today’s Zaman, Üstün said European politicians should start questioning themselves and their immigration policies in the aftermath of the Oslo massacre, and also in light of a sharp increase in the number of reports of Turks and other nationals of Muslim background being killed in prison due to alleged police brutally.
According to Üstün, the committee was planning to send a delegation to various European countries. “As the Turkish Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, we are drafting a report on the reasons for increasing hostility toward Turks in Europe and on the possible measures that can be taken to combat it. We will meet with European parliamentary officials and get involved in the efforts to curb increasing racism in Europe.”
Üstün believes that European politicians, in a simple bid for votes, had fanned the flame of xenophobia in Europe by staying silent in the face of developments that have turned innocent foreigners into outsiders in European societies, failing to see that far right and racist movements had turned monstrous.
The committee president went on to explain that European bureaucrats and administrators were no more rational in assessing the right-wing threat than the politicians.
“They went so overboard with measures to protect their countries from outside attacks that they were completely intolerant to the distressed people fleeing Libya. Treating the most innocent foreigner as a potential aggressor, they failed to see what the bred and raised racist in Europe was capable of. Did such a huge price have to be paid to understand that violence and terror have no nationality or color?”
Üstün described racism as a disease that would take at least one generation to treat, stating again that the price paid in Oslo was the cost of policies promoting xenophobia instead of preventing dangerous far-right movements.
Üstün said he had no doubt that the obstacles Turkey has faced in its application for EU membership are due to this racist subconscious. “Particularly the French and German politicians have a huge responsibility in this. The came up with double-standards and unimaginably irrational obstacles to block Turkey’s membership in order to maintain the dual-hegemony they enjoy [over the EU]. These irrational efforts and attitudes of politicians secretly feed racist violence and hostility against Turks. The increasing number of attacks targeting Muslims, particularly Turks, including setting homes on fire and murdering innocent people, are all happening because of these damaging policies.”
He said the Human Rights Investigation Committee was profoundly saddened by the massacre in Oslo, recalling that one among the dead is a Turkish youth. He also recalled the case of Gürz, an alleged torture victim who died in a Dutch prison earlier in July, saying: “Wherever there is a violation of human rights, we will use the authority vested in us by the law to conduct an investigation. As the Parliamentary Human Rights Investigation Committee, we have asked the Foreign Ministry to inform us on the İhsan Gürz case. We will present a comprehensive report after examining the case on site when we visit the Netherlands.”
Abuse of a detainee at a police station is a shame for humanity. “Unfortunately, such things have happened in our country in the past. But Turkey is rapidly moving away from this shame. Our police stations are becoming increasingly transparent. It is the subject of a profound investigation that as Turkey progresses so rapidly in this department, people are subject to torture in European police stations. We truly hope that our European friends will also make the necessary effort to rid themselves of this shame and make a sincere contribution to the investigation we will be conducting.”
İhsan Gürz, the 22-year-old victim of the alleged police brutality, was detained by Dutch police on July 2. Gürz was found dead in his cell 12 hours later. Dutch media remained indifferent to his death, until Today’s Zaman and other Turkish newspapers provided extensive coverage. This shines in stark contrast to Turkish newspapers reporting the death of a Nigerian immigrant at a police station in İstanbul on their front pages for days and continuing to follow the trial of the suspected police officers, which is still underway.
Üstün said that measures have to be taken immediately to prevent racist violence and terrorism from causing new anguish. European countries that had to endure tremendous grief due to racism in World Wars I & II had taken important legal measures to prevent future racist acts. “However, these measures have been relaxed in later years. Racism, that was once thought would never return, has come back in the form of Islamophobia. The cost of negligence is too high. Our prime minister has many times in the past called for measures against growing racism and Islamophobia, but unfortunately, Europe has failed to take any steps. To the contrary, they took steps that covertly encouraged extremism, such as changing Schengen rules to keep out 3,000 terrified Libyans fleeing violence in their country.”
Üstün said terrorism and racism do not come in “international” and “domestic” forms. Regarding Norway he stated, “They should do the same thing they would do if an attack of this kind had happened in a Muslim country. They should question themselves as rigorously as they question Muslim countries. There is now consideration of 21 years in jail [for the Norway gunman]. This would further injure society’s conscience. This would be a punishment that violates the logic of criminal law.”