Los Angeles Times
November 27, 2004
ANKARA, Turkey — The head of Turkey's parliamentary human rights group has accused Washington of genocide in Iraq and behaving worse than Adolf Hitler, in remarks that underscore the depth of Turkish opposition to U.S. policy in the region.
The U.S. Embassy rejected the comments and said they were potentially damaging to Turkish-U.S. relations.
"The occupation has turned into barbarism," the Friday edition of newspaper Yeni Safak quoted Mehmet Elkatmis, head of parliament's human rights commission, as saying. "The U.S. administration is committing genocide in Iraq.
"Never in human history have such genocide and cruelty been witnessed. Such a genocide was never seen in the time of the pharaohs nor of Hitler nor of [Benito] Mussolini," Italy's World War II-era fascist leader, Elkatmis said.
"This occupation has entirely imperialist aims," he was quoted as saying.
Elkatmis does not speak for Turkey's government but is a prominent member of the ruling Justice and Development Party, a center-right group with Islamist roots.
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul played down Elkatmis' comments but defended Turks' right to speak freely.
A diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara said, "Such unfounded, inaccurate, exaggerated claims are not good for relations, especially at a time of strain when Turkish public opinion is so critical of what the United States is trying to do in Iraq."
The diplomat said Elkatmis had overlooked the fact that insurgents like those in the Iraqi city of Fallouja had abducted and beheaded a number of Turkish truck drivers in recent months.
Elkatmis' comments drew barely a flicker of interest in Turkey, where polls point to growing anti-American sentiment.
Turkey has been especially disturbed by the recent U.S. offensive against insurgents in Fallouja in which civilians have died and mosques have been damaged.