YouTube, one of the most visited websites in Turkey, has removed a video of a speech by Turkish Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun during an exhibition commemorating Turkish diplomats killed by Armenian militant groups in the 1970s and 1980s, for violating its hate speech policy, local media reported on Thursday.
Altun in late April spoke at the “Martyr Diplomats Exhibition” sponsored by the Directorate of Communications in İstanbul to commemorate 31 Turkish diplomats serving at diplomatic missions abroad who were murdered in attacks carried out by the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) and the Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide (JCAG).
The militants had targeted Turkish diplomats between 1973 and 1984 in revenge for the suffering of Armenians in mass expulsions from Ottoman territory during World War I.
Altun on Thursday announced on Twitter that YouTube had removed a video of him giving a speech at the exhibition, posted by the pro-government Ülke TV on the platform, because it included hate speech.
Üzülerek belirtmek istiyorum ki, Şehit Diplomatlar Sergisinde yaptığım şu konuşma YouTube tarafından sansürlendi.
Sözüm ona bu konuşma, nefret söylemi içeriyormuş. Lütfen kulak verin ve siz karar verin.
Bu çifte standarttır, bu riyakarlıktır. pic.twitter.com/xLFLF3TChM
— Fahrettin Altun (@fahrettinaltun) July 1, 2021
Posting the same video on Twitter, Altun said: “I’m sorry to say that the speech I gave at the Martyr Diplomats Exhibition has been censored by YouTube. It supposedly includes hate speech. Please listen to it and decide for yourself. This is a double standard, this is hypocrisy.”
“We have seen once again that we need domestic and national platforms in the field of media and communication, as in others. Long live the truth!” Altun added.
In response to Altun’s request, Ertuğrul Kürkçü, the honorary chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and a former lawmaker, said he listened to the speech and decided that Altun was in fact “spewing hatred towards the Armenian community.”
“[In the video], you were frequently saying ‘Armenian terrorist’ or ‘Armenian terrorism.’ You weren’t targeting the perpetrators who killed the diplomats, but their national identity,” Kürkçü said, addressing Altun.
The Armenians, supported by many historians and scholars, say 1.5 million of their people died in a genocide committed under the Ottoman Empire, which was fighting tsarist Russia in areas that include present-day Armenia.
Turkey accepts that both Armenians and Turks died in huge numbers during World War I but vehemently denies there was a deliberate policy of genocide — a term that had not been legally defined at the time.
Turkey puts the Armenian death toll at around 300,000.
On April 24 President Joe Biden became the first US leader to use the term genocide in an annual message on the anniversary of the 1915-1916 massacres.