A contentious message, alleging that Turkey of betraying India and supporting Pakistan over the issue of ‘Jammu and Kashmir’ after India extended humanitarian aide following the devastating earthquake has been doing the rounds of the internet.

“Breaking! Turkey supports Pakistan on #Kashmir. Says ‘India has been doing Human riot violations in Kashmir. India carried out Project Dost & sent NDRF team, relief material to Turkey. But in return Turkey betrayed India & supported Pak in UNHRC. Muslim Ummah wins, Modi failed,” a viral WhatsApp message read.

Screengrab of the presumably fake/misleading WhatsApp message

And while Turkey has indeed taken stand for Pakistan over Kashmir issue, the above message is misleading.

The Statement of Turkey In UNHRC

Turkey has supported Pakistan in the past and even engaged in anti-India propaganda by internationalising the so-called ‘Kashmir Issue’. However, the transcontinental nation has not made any such comment in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake at the UNHRC.

On February 27 this year, the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Mehmet Kemal Bozay, spoke at the United Nations Human Rights Council and thanked the world for their continued support of the country at the time of crisis.

Turkey also expressed its commitment to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, the disputed Palestinian State and Crimea. It called upon the nations to protect Afghanistan, migrants and refugees in Syria and the Mediterranean.

Having said that, Bozay did not make any reference to Jammu and Kashmir in his address. The remarks of the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey are reproduced in their entirety below:

MEHMET KEMAL BOZAY, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Türkiye, said the Turkish nation mourned its losses following the largest natural disaster of this century; 40,000 lives had been lost and 100,000 people injured. Türkiye expressed deep gratitude for the profound international solidarity received, which reconfirmed that the international community should adopt a “one humanity one world” approach in tackling problems. Türkiye would continue to engage with the Human Rights Council for the protection and promotion of human rights for all, and was committed to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, including Crimea, and to a just peace.

Pushbacks and systemic violations of rights of migrants and refugees continued to cause major concern as well. States should not let desperate human beings die neither in Mediterranean nor at their borders. In Syria, Türkiye was trying to revitalise the political process, enable safe returns, and eliminate terrorist threats. The international community should not allow the situation in Afghanistan to deteriorate further. The establishment of a sovereign Palestinian State based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital, was the only way for a just peace. In Libya, free elections under United Nations’ guidance were key to stability and peace. The situation of the Turkish Cypriot people should be addressed by the Council.

The Bone of Contention And India’s Right of Reply

On Thursday (March 2), the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) raked up the Kashmir issue at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

Its Secretary General Hissein Brahim Taha reportedly referred to “developments in Afghanistan, the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, the situation of the Rohingya Muslim community and the damage to the cultural and religious heritage in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan.”

India was miffed with the vicious attempt of OIC, which had been prodded to make remarks on Kashmir by Turkey and Pakistan in the past. It must be mentioned that both Turkey and Pakistan are member States of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation since 1969.

To make the situation worse, Pakistan used the platform of UNHRC to peddle malicious propaganda against India. As such, on Saturday (March 4), India used its ‘Right of Reply’ and slammed the neighbouring country for its sinister agenda.

India also made references to Turkey in the context of the OIC’s statement and asked the transcontinental country to refrain from interfering in India’s internal affairs. India was at the forefront of the evacuation mission under ‘Operation Dost’ after a devastating earthquake hit Turkey and claimed over 40,000 lives.

While fake news peddlers on Whatsapp are suggesting that Turkey backstabbed India despite his help, the statement of Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister at UNHRC says otherwise. He only mentioned Jammu and Kashmir in his speech, saying that the matter should be resolved as per the UNSC resolution on it.

Despite differences on multiple issues with Turkey, India carried out its humanitarian obligation as a true leader. OIC’s unsolicited remarks and India’s stern response cannot be seen as a failure of PM Modi for extending the olive branch.

Turkey Stood By Pakistan Over Kashmir Issue In The Past

Having said that, Turkey has indeed tried to meddle in India’s internal affairs in the past. In February 2020, while addressing a joint session of Pakistan’s Parliament, Erdogan voiced his support to Pakistan on its stand on Kashmir, claiming that the issue of Kashmir cannot be solved through oppression or conflict but through justice and fairness. The Turkish President’s remarks had come 7 months after the revocation of Article 370 and Article 35A that had given a separate status to Jammu and Kashmir.

Prior to that, in UN General Assembly in October 2019, Recep Tayyip Erdogan had made a strident speech, supporting Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir while exhorting the world to focus on an issue that has not received adequate attention from the international community.

India had sharply reacted to Erdogan’s statement in the UN assembly, and expressed “deep regret” over Turkish president’s remarks and categorically asked it to refrain from making statements on India’s “internal matters”. Turkey is among the very few countries that have been supporting Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, while most other nations agree with India’s stand in the matter.

To conclude, India called out Turkey’s interference and extending support to Pakistan in Kashmir matter. Turkey had raked up Kashmir issue in the past, not at UNHRC recently after the earthquake after India extended humanitarian aide to Turkey. The two are separate incidents and mixed up to further a misleading narrative. While the minister did mention Jammu and Kashmir in his speech, he didn’t accuse India of human rights violations in the region, as the viral messages are claiming.