Sunday, April 18, 2010

Turkey / Armenian Genocide

Turkey's 95 Years of Denial
By Olivia Ward
The Toronto Star, April 18, 2010
"Some were thrown into the Black Sea and drowned, while thousands of other men, women and children were forced to march through the blistering Syrian desert without food or water, dying en route to concentration camps. The 1915 killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians by extremists in the Ottoman Empire's 'Young Turk' movement during the turmoil of World War I has been exhaustively documented by scholars, diplomats, journalists and the testimonies of survivors. Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. ambassador to the empire, cabled Washington about a 'systematic plan to crush the Armenian race.' After the war, a Turkish court held war crimes trials and concluded that the leaders of the massacre were guilty of murder -- though they were never jailed. Ninety-five years after the onset of what has been labelled the 20th century's first genocide, Turkey has not come to terms with the dark event, whose ghosts still haunt relations with neighbouring Armenia. The months-long massacre is marked on April 24, the date when hundreds of Armenian intellectual leaders were deported and killed.
'Turkey has a different perspective on history,' says Fadi Hakura, a Turkish expert at Chatham House in London. 'It believes no genocide took place: many Armenians were expelled for security reasons or killed by the ravages of war.' Turkey maintains that local Armenians supported the invading Russian army during the war, and rose up treasonously against Ottoman authorities. And many Christian Armenians were killed along with Muslims in what amounted to a civil war. Deportations occurred, but no organized attempt to destroy the Armenian population. Hence, no genocide. Nearly a century later, everyone linked with the massacres is dead, along with the Ottoman Empire. Turkey is an ally of the West, a global trading partner and a candidate for European Union membership. But Ankara's efforts to wall off the past run counter to those of other countries with clouded histories. A German president has apologized for the Holocaust to the Israeli parliament and a former South African leader asked forgiveness for the pain and suffering of the viciously racist apartheid system. Last week, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin acknowledged the Soviet role in the slaughter of 22,000 Poles at Katyn during World War II. But Turkey still considers the subject of Armenian genocide taboo. So international moves to recognize it continue to outrage Ankara. [...]"

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:12 AM

    The current Turkish government has been unique in trying to blame the victims by claiming that it was just war that Turks and Armenians just killed each other in roughly equal numbers. Most despicable have been recent claims that the Armenians committed the genocide on the Turks.

    I recently saw a BBC documentary where a Turkey's ambassador claimed that hundreds of thousands of Armenian women and children died when they were being "relocated" from their homes, where they had lived for centuries, to the Syrian desert. What did they epect to happen?

    It is ironic that the Turkish government persists in its denial when the word "Genocide" was created by Raphael Lemkin to describe what had happened to the Armenians in Turkey.


    It saddens and yes even sickens me when people with good intentions feel compelled to be evenhanded and give "both sides" of a genocide.


Please be constructive in your comments. - AJ