Skip to main content

Turkey's Erdogan defends Rohingya to enhance image

Big political ambitions lurk behind Erdogan’s vocal defense of suffering Muslims in Myanmar, as Ankara’s own human rights record casts doubt on his credibility.

Genocide is not a word Turks like to remember or use much because it brings to mind the most controversial issue of the country's history. Discussion of the Armenian genocide, a characterization of the tragedy that befell the Ottoman Armenians in 1915, is blasphemous for many Turks and, above all, for nearly all of Turkey’s political leaders, irrespective of their political conviction.

However, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hasn't refrained from using the word “genocide” when he is outraged by calamities that befall Muslim peoples around the world. A couple of years ago, to the consternation of Chinese leaders, he used the word for the troubles taking place in Xinjiang, also known as East Turkestan. He had spoken of “genocide perpetrated against Uighurs,” referring to the Muslim Turkic community of China.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.