Letter: Don’t tread on Turkey

As a Turkish American parent and a Michigan resident, I am concerned about a House bill’s erroneous characterization of the Armenian case as genocide.

H.B. 4493 would not be teaching our state’s children the history of the Ottoman-Armenian case accurately.

The crime of genocide was defined in reaction to the Holocaust. The 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention was drafted and adopted precisely to respond to the unique crime of killing a group of people solely because of their ethnic, racial and religious identity, and the definition provided by the Genocide Convention is the only definition of genocide that the United States accepts.

To date, no United States or foreign court has ever tried or found liable any person or state for the crime of genocide related to the Ottoman-Armenian tragedy.

Numerous times the UN declined to accept a report that characterized the Armenian case as genocide and spokespersons reiterated that the UN does not consider the case as genocide.

It is important to point out Turkey’s geostrategic position between Europe and the Middle East has made Turkey an important NATO ally and an essential partner in combating extremism and rising poverty rates in the region.

Turkey is an important trading partner as they are responsible for over $700 million to our economy and corresponding jobs. I commend Governor Snyder for working to attract investment and jobs from around the globe, but H.B. 4493 could be detrimental to the growing economic partnership between our two countries.

I urge the members of the Senate to amend H.B. 4493 in order to accurately reflect history and not tread on Turkey, an indispensable ally in the war on terror and important trade partner for our country and the state of Michigan.

Gokhan Ozalp, Walled Lake