Greens call for NZ Parliament to recognise Armenian genocide

Some of the many hundreds of thousands of Armenian victims of the Ottoman Empire.
Some of the many hundreds of thousands of Armenian victims of the Ottoman Empire. Photo credit: Getty

New Zealand's politicians will decide whether to recognise the deportation and killing of Armenians as genocide, a decision that could have diplomatic ramifications.

A campaign of mass killing and deportation of Armenian subjects by the Ottoman Empire during World War I is recognised as genocide by most historians - and by 29 countries.

In 1915, the Ottoman parliament formally authorised the deportation of Armenians. Nearly 1.5 million people were killed by Ottoman armies - many removed from their homes and marched to concentration camps in the Syrian Desert.

The Turkish government to this day insists there was no policy of extermination of the Armenian people, and therefore says it was not genocide. It says the killings were part of a collective tragedy in which Turks and Armenians died.

"The Turkish government for decades have been trying to downplay it," Green MP Gareth Hughes told Newshub,

"It's important we don't forget these crimes and atrocities have occurred in the past."

Mr Hughes said if Parliament voted to recognise the genocide, Turkey could respond.

"There could be some backlash from Turkey. I would point out, though, that in the last 10 years, the subject has become liberalised in Turkey itself. There's a lot more discussion."

When German MPs voted to recognise the genocide in 2016, the MPs were placed under 24-hour police protection and were warned not to visit Turkey. Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Berlin, and Turkey's presidentRecep Tayyip Erdoğan said the MPs have "impure blood" and described them as the "long arm of separatist terrorists".

The United Kingdom and the United States have not taken official positions on the events.

France, Italy, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Russia, Syria and Canada are among the 29 countries that recognise the deaths as genocide.