The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accused the Dutch of contributing to a massacre of Muslim men at Srebrenica, Bosnia, in 1995. Erdogan stated that Dutch UN peacekeepers failed to protect the men from Bosnian Serb forces. The Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, stated that the remarks are a vile falsification.
Rutte said Erdogan was becoming more hysterical and he wants him to calm down. The BBC reports that Turkey is furious because the Dutch government barred two Turkish ministers from entering Netherlands. In retaliation, the Turkish government accused the Dutch of using Nazi tactics. The rallies were called to encourage Turks living in the European Union to vote Yes in a referendum on 16 April.
The purpose of the referendum is give more powers to the Turkish president. The Dutch government blocked the rallies, stating that they are risks to public order and security. About 5.5 million Turks live outside the country, an estimated 400,000 Turks live in the Netherlands.
Srebrenica massacre and Dutch election
Erdogan's invocation of the Srebrenica massacre showed he has no intention of calming the rhetoric against the Dutch. Erdogan stated: "The Netherlands and the Dutch, we know them from the Srebrenica massacre. We know how much their morality, their character is broken from the eight thousand Bosnians that were massacred." His comments touch a raw nerve in the Netherlands. Erdogan also caused shock and outrage after likening the Dutch to Nazis. He has also called the Netherlands a banana republic.
The latest development comes a day before voters go to the polls for a general election dominated by concerns about immigration and Islamic radicalism. The anti-Islam Freedom Party of Geert Wilders has been benefiting from the anti-establishment sentiment which fuelled the victories of Brexit in UK and Donald Trump in US. Rutte's handling of the Turkish rallies may benefit his centre-right People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD).