Turkey to recognize killing of Native Americans as ‘genocide’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan participates in a round-table meeting during a NATO leaders meeting, in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, on December 4, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Turkey to recognize killing of Native Americans as ‘genocide’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara will proceed to recognize the killing of millions of indigenous Americans as “genocide” in response to a recent move by the United States government to define the massacre of Armenians by the former Ottoman Empire as such.

The US Senate unanimously voted in favor of recognizing as “genocide” the mass killing of Armenians during World War One in the early 20th century.

Speaking on the official Haber news channel on Monday, Erdogan said Turkey “should oppose [the US] by reciprocating such decisions in parliament. And that is what we will do.”

“Can we speak about America without mentioning [Native Americans]? It is a shameful moment in US history,” he added, referring to the killing of millions of indigenous people at the end of the 15th century.

According to a team at University College London, back then, some 55 million indigenous people died during the European conquest of America.

The US Senate has formally recognized the killings of Armenians a century ago as “genocide.”

The majority of the deaths occurred by diseases brought over from Europe. War, slavery, and displacement also contributed to the decline of the populations of the indigenous community.

Armenia says 1.5 million people were massacred, imprisoned, or faced forced deportation by the Ottoman Empire during WWI.

Ankara denies that “genocide” took place at the time, arguing that 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks were killed in a civil strife when Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers of the time.

Earlier, Democratic US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who declined to back the bill over the massacre of Armenians, said any “true acknowledgement” of such crimes must include other historical “mass slaughters” as well.

“A true acknowledgement of historical crimes against humanity must include both the heinous genocides of the 20th century, along with earlier mass slaughters like the transatlantic slave trade and Native American genocide,” said Omar.