Paterson (New Jersey) deputy mayor lobbies for Armenian Genocide denial

Paterson (New Jersey) deputy mayor lobbies for Armenian Genocide denial –

By Justin Zaremba – The current deputy mayor of Paterson, in addition to operating a local staffing agency, has another lesser known role — lobbying for the denial of the Armenian Genocide.

Derya Taskin, president of the Turkish Institute for Progress, helms a group whose top issue is denying the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians from 1915 to 1917 by the Ottoman Empire amounted to genocide.

Taskin, who also runs Derya Staffing & Consulting, was appointed to the unpaid position of deputy mayor in January to serve as a liaison between the mayor’s office and the local Turkish community, according to the Turkish newspaper, Daily Sabah.

On Monday, Taskin in an open letter on advocated against legislation seeking to include the Armenian Genocide in Michigan social studies and world history textbooks. 

“The disputed history of an international tragedy that took place over a hundred years ago should not be settled in Michigan schools,” she said. “While the Michigan Legislature is working to rewrite history, it is important to look back at history on the issue. Not one international court has recognized the 1915 tragedy was a ‘genocide.’ In fact, 173 countries, the United Nations, and the European Court on Human Rights High Commission agree with that the 1915 tragedy was not a ‘genocide.'”

Only two countries deny the Armenian Genocide — Turkey and its close ally, Azerbaijan — but the European Parliament and 29 countries including Canada, France, Germany and Russia recognize the systemic massacres by the Ottoman Empire as genocide. U.S. efforts to formally recognize the Armenian Genocidehave repeatedly fallen flat due in part to pro-Turkish opposition, but 44 states have recognized the atrocities as genocide including New Jersey.

Taskin’s letter on the Michigan school books issue was posted the day after the annual day of remembrance of the Armenian Genocide on April 24 and several days after recent pro-Turkey skywriting appeared over New York City. According to Vice News, that skywriting featured messages such as as “101 years of Geno-lie,” “Gr8 ally = Turkey,” “BFF = Russia + Armenia,” and “”

Taskin’s website for the Turkish Institute for Progress lists three issues as its top priorities: denying the killing of Armenians from 1915 to 1917 amounted to genocide; encouraging a reconciliation of Turkey and Armenia; and highlighting Turkey’s role in NATO and global security.

Taskin’s website also disputes the number of Armenians killed, saying only “600,000 Armenians died” and those killings were not “premeditated” or “systematic.” The website also states 2.5 million Turks, Kurds and Arabs also died.

According to an overview by the New York Times, Armenians mark April 24, 1915 as start of the genocide — the day Armenian intellectuals were rounded up, arrested and later executed. Figures compiled by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies by province and district show there were about 2.1 million Armenians in the empire in 1914 and only about 387,800 by 1922, according to the newspaper.

The overview states the Times “covered the issue extensively — 145 articles in 1915 alone by one count — with headlines like ‘Appeal to Turkey to Stop Massacres.’ The Times described the actions against the Armenians as ‘systematic,’ ‘authorized,’ and ‘organized by the government.'”

Messages placed to Taskin Thursday have not yet been returned. Paterson Mayor Jose Torres referred comment on the issue to Taskin herself.

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