The government of the Netherlands has granted asylum to a former Turkish judge who claimed he was persecuted over his views on the treatment of Armenians and Kurds.
Cagatay Cetin, who arrived in Holland in January 2010, was facing criminal charges in Turkey including forging documents and making false accusations.
According to De Volkskrant, a Dutch newspaper, in February 2010, Cetin was sentenced in absentia to 17 years in prison by a Turkish court for, among other things, “insulting” the Turkish nation.
Cetin reportedly had escaped Turkey with a fake Bulgarian passport.
Cetin is of Armenian-Kurdish descent himself.
The Dutch government did not explain why it granted Cetin asylum, citing it does not comment on individual cases.
Turkey has long denied that its government sanctioned the mass murder of up to 2-million Armenians during the First World War. Ankara has prosecuted people who have described the deaths of Armenians and others as “genocide.”
In an article from last year published in a Russian/Armenian publication, Cetin explained how his life was in danger in Turkey and how he had no recourse under the law.
“[The Turkish legal system] is subjected to ongoing oppression and threats,” he said. “The judges pray so that they never have to deal with a political case. And if you express an opinion or make a decision in relation to the [ruling] Justice and Development Party, the Justice Ministry inspectors are immediately sent to you.”
He added that should his application for asylum be successful, many other judges in Turkey might seek to follow his example.
“If the answer is positive, others will come here too. The condition of Kurd judges and prosecutors in Turkey is very critical,” he said.