Minorities skeptical over call to join Turkish police forces

Minority communities have expressed skepticism at the Police Department’s recent Twitter call for minority youth to apply to join the force, saying authorities must take more measures to prove their sincerity.The directorate wrote on its Twitter account that all Turkish citizens could become police officers regardless of their religion, race, or sect in response to Syriac Orthodox Church Metropolitan Patriarchal Vicar Mor Filüksinos Yusuf Çetin’s interview with a Turkish daily.

Istanbul-based Armenian-Turkish weekly Agos columnist Zakarya Mildano?lu voiced skepticism over the call, saying more would be needed to prove their sincerity over the issue.

“This call is a positive development. But this issue cannot be solved with just a call. They must show their sincerity,” Mildano?lu told Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.

He also said he wondered how the background and identity checks would be done for minorities if they applied for a police posting. While noting that there were obstacles for minorities in Turkey to become pilots, prosecutors, judges, deputies or commissioned officer, Mildano?lu said the call was still significant.

“Even if this call is not realized immediately, it will certainly smooth the hate speech and increase the perception of [equal] citizenship. This is not an easy process. Despite living together, there is rupture of 100 years,” said Mildano?lu referring to the 1915 incidents during which many Armenians were killed.

Sabo Boyac?, the founder of the suryaniler.com [syriacs.com] said the call was important, but also voiced concern over the realization of the project.

“The call is important, but what about its content? I’d like to ask whether they are really ready to realize this call,” said Boyac?.

“Although there are no legal obstacles before us becoming police, unwritten laws stand before us like the sword of Damocles. When will these unwritten laws be abolished,” Boyac? told the Daily News yesterday.

Boyac? also said it would not be easy for the Syriac community’s young members to reply positively to the call after having not been accepted for over 100 years.

But Yeni Yüzy?l University’s Health Sciences dean, Professor Ersi Abac?-Kalfao?lu, said on behalf of the Greek minority community living in Turkey that the minority communities must do some soul-searching over the issue.

“I had encountered no obstacle during my profession. We must do self-criticism over why we have not applied to be police officers,” she said.

Çetin told daily Milliyet on Oct. 14 that minorities were not given posts in the judiciary, military or police departments in Turkey, prompting the Police Department to write four tweets on its official account in response.

“Every Turkish citizen can become a police officer in Turkey regardless of religion, race or sect. We invite our Syriac citizens to apply for the exams selecting police officers and become a police officer,” it said Oct. 14.