Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Armenian genocide

I found this link http://www.washingtontimes.com where the writer is a Turk and denies Armenian genocide.I found interesting the comment that 'Manuel' posted in regards to the article.

Read it here:

"oplu. I do know the background of the writer, she has written articles on this site as well as her Turkish Digest website as well having her articles printed in blatantly nationalist websites.
I am sorry you feel that way about Armenians, in my first comment I did not make any comments about Turks as a whole but only regarding the writer and the Turkish government. I am well aware of the fact that Turks helped save thousands of Armenians during the Genocide and they are risking their lives today by daring to talk about it and raising the issue in public. Your comments regarding all Armenians are blatantly racist - please read them again yourself.
The writer tries to use a quote by Winston Churchill regarding what constitutes a fanatic. If she had researched the subject properly she would have known that Winston Churchill referred to what happened to the Armenians as 'administrative Holocaust'.
The reason why Armenians are not warm to the subject of a joint commission is that only a handful of historians and the Turkish government believe it was not Genocide, but mainly because while it has suggested the commission it has quashed any debate on the subject in Turkey - Why - let there be open, honest, full debate on the subject in Turkey first - without the hatred and death threats towards those Turks speaking their minds? After over 90 years of distortion of facts in Turkey - it is only now that the debate has begun, Turkey should find out for itself what happened in 1915 openly and honestly - before suggesting a 'joint commission' .
Every time this debate is raised the question of Nagorno Kharabagh is raised - as if somehow the present has a hand in the past. Nachichevan and areas including Kharabagh were annexed to Azerbaijan from Armenia by Russia, thats why the population of kharabagh was predominantly Armenian ( and yes there were ethnic Azeris, and yes they were forced out and they should ultimately be given the right to return).
I agree there should be understanding and peace between the two neighbours, but it can only be done with acceptance of the truth. The book for which the Turkish publisher was imprisoned was called ' The truth will set us free' - about how the writers family was saved by a Turkish family it was a book on understanding and reconciliation, but as I said 301 was used to imprison the publisher. I don't believe the Turkish population is racist, just the Nationalists as well as prominent politicians, these are the people who sadly still control Turkey, and before you get angry at this comment let me quote you the Turkish Defense ministers statement made in a speech in Brussels last month (the heart of Europe) 'Turkey would not have been the country it is had the Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians....been allowed to stay' what does that say about the willingness of a 21 century modern country leadership say about that countries present ideology and willingness to look at history objectively?

Understandably being a Turk, the writer of this article would not like to admit that what happened in 1915 was Genocide.
No other choice has been left to Armenians around the world, but to ask the governments of the countries they live to recognize the Genocide, up until now there has been no debate on the subject in Turkey, the term 'Armenian' is still an insult of the highest order even used by politicians (used recently as last week against the president of Turkey). Sadly article 301 in Turkey is still used to prosecute anyone who uses the words Armenian Genocide, one assistant publisher has just been imprisoned for having published a book by an Armenian writer.
One myth I keep hearing especially in Turkish newspapers etc. is that the Armenian lobby group is very powerful, to put matters straight - compared to the tens of millions spent on US lobby groups by Turkey and the fact that any high ranking Turkish minister can pick up the phone and call his/her counterpart in the US ( as happened with Clinton at a previous vote) the Armenian lobby groups are no match. Instead of suggesting Mr. Obama should look into what happened in 1915, the writer should be advised to go back to Turkey and find out the facts for themselves, it is only now that they can research the subject there more freely. One of the reasons why debate has sprung up is because the Armenian diaspora has pushed the issue, if not Turkey would have buried the issue long ago just as it buried the million plus Armenians in 1915."
December 24, 2008 at 11:39 a.m.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Online apology for the Armenian genocide

After more than 90 years, Turkey is about to breaking a long-held taboo. An online petition, apologizing for the killing of Armenians in 1915, has been issued by prominent Turkish academics.

Watch the video here:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Convince Raphael Lemkin Otherwise!

Dec 10 2008

The Armenian Genocide has been officially recognized by Turkey,
United States, Great Britain, Israel and many more countries, but we
just couldn't see it.

By Vicken Babkenian, an independent researcher for the Australian
Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Sydney, Australia,
3 December 2008

It all began when I was cutting an Orange for my niece when she asked
me why the name Orange is both a color and a fruit. After doing some
research, I discovered that the root of the word Orange in the English
language is derived from the fruit. In other words the Etymology of
the color and the fruit is interconnected. No one can argue that the
fruit Orange is not Orange.

As someone who has studied the Armenian Genocide over a number of
years, I could not help but familiarize myself with the etymology of
the word Genocide. I discovered that the word genocide is from the
roots genos (Greek for family, tribe, race, a people, a nation) and
-cide (Latin - occidere or cideo - to Massacre, Kill, exterminate). I
looked up the word in the Oxford dictionary and found the definition to
be "the extermination of a race". I then recalled that this definition
of the word 'genocide' had been used by contemporary eyewitnesses,
diplomats, historians, journalists to describe what was happening to
the Armenians during WWI. Lord James Bryce in 1915 called it "the
Extermination of a Race" in a New York Times article. If the word
'genocide' had been coined before WWI, then that one word would have
been used, instead of the five words which mean the same thing.

I then conducted some research on Raphael Lemkin, "The founder of the
genocide convention" and on the genesis of the word 'genocide' which
he coined in 1944. In his manuscript titled "Totally unofficial",
Lemkin wrote:

"In 1915 . . . I began . . . to read more history to study whether
national, religious, or racial groups as such were being destroyed. The
truth came out after the war. In Turkey, more than 1,200,000 Armenians
were put to death . . . After the end of the war, some 150 Turkish
war criminals were arrested and interned by the British Government
on the island of Malta . . . Then one day, I read in the newspapers
that all Turkish war criminals were to be released. I was shocked. A
nation that killed and the guilty persons were set free . . . I felt
that a law against this type of racial or religious murder must be
adopted by the world"

I soon reached the conclusion that the word genocide is etymologically
interconnected with the tragedy of the Armenians, just like the word
Orange is to the fruit of the same name. The man who coined the word
genocide had in large part based it on the Armenian catastrophe. He
even stated on national television "that it happened to the
Armenians." I further realized that the legal term "Crimes against
humanity" which is affirmed by the U.N general Assembly was in the
main, derived and adopted from a declaration made by the Allies on
24 May 1915 with respect to the initiation of the wartime Armenian
Genocide, which they branded as a "crime against humanity." This
fact is acknowledged by the authoritative UN War Crimes Commission,
History of the United Nations War Crimes Commission and the Development
of the Laws of War.

I searched online to learn which countries had actually signed and
ratified the Genocide Convention. I discovered that most countries
in the world had done so, including the United States, Great Britain,
Turkey, Israel and so on. I concluded that by ratifying the convention
they had in fact recognized that the Armenian holocaust was in fact
a genocide.

Yes, I use the word 'holocaust' because that word was used to
describe what was happening to the Armenians during the Abdul Hamid
Massacres, Adana Massacres and the Armenian genocide by contemporary
writers. William Walker Rockwell in an article titled "the Total
of Armenian and Syrian Dead" in the New York Times Current History
February 1916, wrote "If the ghosts of the Christian civilians who
have perished miserably in Turkey since the commencement of the great
holocaust should march down Fifth Avenue twenty abreast there might
be a million of them ... for most of them will be women and children".

The Armenian genocide has been recognized by the majority of the
nations of the world and we didn't even know it. If those countries
who have ratified the genocide convention deny that the Armenians
were victims of genocide, then they should either terminate their
participation to the convention, or have the convention change the word
'genocide' to something else which is not intrinsically connected to
the Armenian slaughter.

Denying that Armenians were victims of genocide is akin to denying
that an Orange is Orange. It is insane and illogical. For those who
believe that what happened to the Armenians should not be termed a
'genocide', should have convinced Raphael Lemkin not to base the
word on what had happened to the Armenians. Unfortunately for them,
it is too late, by signing the genocide convention; most of the world
has already recognized the Armenian genocide.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Turkish intellectuals give personal apology for 1915 events

A group of Turkish intellectuals have apologized for the “great disaster that Ottoman Armenians suffered in 1915” but have fallen short of calling on the state to do the same.

A petition initiated by a group of intellectuals, including professors Baskın Oran and Ahmet İnsel, journalists Ali Bayramoğlu and Cengiz Aktar, personally apologizes for the events.

The group is asking other people to sign the petition, which reads as follows: “I cannot conscientiously accept the indifference to the great disaster that Ottoman Armenians suffered in 1915, and its denial. I reject this injustice and acting of my own will, I share the feelings and pains of my Armenian brothers and sisters, and I apologize to them.”

The organizers of the campaign have underlined that first they will collect signatures from intellectuals and they will then open a secure Web site to collect signatures.

Oran pointed out that they had written the text for individuals since the tragedy was very human. “We are searching for human beings. We thought about urging the state to apologize but we decided to let individuals act according to their conscience. This call is for everybody,” he said.

The petition, which has already become the target of nationalists, has led to criticism from other intellectuals.

Aytekin Yıldız, the coordinator of the Confrontation Association (Yüzleşme Derneği), pointed out that the Armenian community was already aware of the fact that there are many people in Turkey of conscience, and the important thing was not to declare what is already known. “It is a good starting point, but not enough. Firstly, what do they mean by ‘great disaster’? Let’s name it, it is genocide. Secondly, the state has to apologize,” Yıldız pointed out.

Historian Ayşe Hür said apologizing is the duty of those who were responsible for the act, or for those who share their arguments. “It seems that a very elite group discussed that petition, because I learnt about this petition from the media and I was surprised,” she said, and added: “I approach these types of events as a scientist, as a historian, not as a member of the Turkish nation. For me, all these events were the fault of Turkish nationalism flourishing at that time, and personally, I don’t identify with it, so I do not feel the need to apologize personally.”

She also pointed out that the petitioners are concentrating only on 1915; however, she says there were events after and before. “There is a state tradition which legitimizes all these events and prevents any discussion about them. Firstly, the state has to ensure a suitable atmosphere to discuss all these things; then it has to apologize on behalf of the perpetrators and for itself, because it has legitimized their actions through the years.”

Another figure, a prominent intellectual who wanted to remain anonymous, said to apologize is not the responsibility of the individual but that of the state. He said Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül’s remarks at a speech he gave in November were not acceptable.

In that speech, the minister suggested that the “success” of the republic lay in the nation-building process. “If there were Greeks in the Aegean and Armenians in most places in Turkey today, would it be the same nation-state? I don’t know what words I can use to explain the importance of the population exchange, but if you look at the former state of affairs, its importance will become very clear,” Gönül said. He added that in those days, Ankara was composed of four neighborhoods -- Armenian, Jewish, Greek and Muslim -- and claimed that after the nation-building process, it became possible to establish a national bourgeoisie.

The Lausanne Treaty, signed in 1923, set in motion a population exchange between Greek Orthodox citizens of the young Turkish Republic and Muslim citizens of Greece, which resulted in the displacement of approximately 2 million people. The Armenian population that was in Turkey before the establishment of Turkish Republic was forced to emigrate in 1915, and, according to some, the conditions of this expulsion are the basis of Armenian claims of genocide.

05 December 2008, Friday

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Vatican: "Unspeakable" Armenian Suffering

ANSA English Media Service

November 24, 2008 Monday 1:09 PM CET

(ANSA) - Vatican City, November 24 - Pope Benedict XVI on Monday spoke
of the "unspeakable suffering" of the Armenian people but did not
use the word "genocide", a term rejected by Turkey but widely used by
historians. Meeting with the religious head of the Armenian diaspora
in Lebanon, Aram I, the pope said the Armenians had experienced a
"period of unspeakable suffering" during the last century. In Aram's
previous visit to Rome in 1997, Pope John Paul II spoke openly of the
Armenian "genocide". On Monday Aram urged all states to recognise
"all genocides, including that of the Armenians". The use of the
word is strongly contested by Turkey and is one of the stumbling
blocks to Turkey's bid to join the European Union. France passed a
bill two years ago making it an offence to deny that Armenia suffered
"genocide" at the hands of the Turks, but the bill was subsequently
buried in the French Senate after furious Turkish reactions. Armenia
says Ottoman Turks killed 1.5 million people systematically in 1915 -
a claim strongly denied by Turkey.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Scores of highly sympathetic articles about the Armenian Genocide have appeared in the Turkish press in recent months, despite Turkey’s repressive laws that make it a crime to discuss this taboo subject.

One such article appeared in the October 30 issue of the liberal newspaper Taraf. It was authored by a very unlikely writer -- Judge Faruk Ozsu from Odemish, near Izmir. This is probably the first time that a sitting Turkish judge publicly expresses such daring thoughts in violation of article 301 of the penal code. He criticizes and mocks the Turkish government’s distorted version of the Armenian Genocide that has been fed to the public for decades.

Judge Ozsu asserts that Turkish denialists contradict themselves by first denying that anything happened in 1915 and then stating that those killings were committed "in defense of the homeland."

Referring to the three Turks, recently sentenced by a Swiss Court for denying the Armenian Genocide, Judge Ozsu writes that contrary to widespread Turkish misrepresentation Switzerland did not restrict freedom of expression, but in fact upheld human dignity. Moreover, he ridicules all those who claim that "from the point of view of freedom of expression, Turkey is more advanced that Switzerland" -- a statement he characterizes as a hilarious comedy! In his judgment, those toeing the official Turkish line on the Armenian Genocide are "blind patriots" who accuse of treason anyone expressing the slightest human sensibility on this subject.

Judge Ozsu describes himself as "a simple man who has not lost his conscience, despite his nationalistic education." He explains that since Switzerland has acknowledged 1915 as genocide, everyone in that country is obliged to obey the law of the land. He goes on to quote Elie Wiesel as saying that the denial of genocide is the continuation of genocide. That is why, the Judge writes, "it is mandatory that denial be deemed a crime."

The Honorable Judge further contends that the denial of genocide is unrelated to the scholarly investigation of facts. He condemns French historian Gilles Weinstein and Turkish Professor Baskin Oran for claiming that "there are no documents proving that the killings were committed according to a government plan, therefore it is not possible to qualify these events as genocide." In the Judge’s view, those making such comments are simply trying to save their necks from "the claws of article 301."

In a direct reference to Dogu Perincek who was convicted by the Swiss Supreme Court last year for denying the Armenian Genocide, Judge Ozsu made the following observations:

- "Perincek’s association bears the name of Talaat Pasha who is viewed as a ‘Turkish Hitler.’"

- "Those who declare that the Armenian Genocide is ‘an imperialist lie,’ show no respect for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, but exclaim: ‘Long live the Ittihadists; we were right [to kill the Armenians] and we can do the same thing now,’ then the only person who will pay attention to them is a Swiss judge."

- "Disputing the genocide, making racist statements, and praising the commission of a crime is now a legal issue in Switzerland, and not an attempt to seek the truth through scientific inquiry."

To be sure, the Judge takes a dim view of his country’s educational system which keeps Turks in a state of ignorance about 1915, while people outside Turkey, who have not had a "Turkish education," view things differently. Explaining that the term genocide was coined by a Polish-Jewish attorney named Raphael Lemkin in 1933, in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide, and before the Holocaust had taken place, which means that "the Genocide Convention signed by Turkey was inspired by the Armenian Genocide."

The Judge is particularly irate at the Turkish government’s insensitivity toward the mass killings of Armenians. He states: "The official Turkish position is that during the war Armenians from certain regions were temporarily sent to the Southern region and during that period about 300,000 Armenians perished due to different circumstances. Any Turk who has not been through ‘Turkish education’ and has kept his conscience intact, upon hearing the 300,000 figure, would say, ‘Oh My God’ and will start thinking about that number."

Consequently, the Judge suggests that the first thing Turks should do is "to state that we feel terrible regarding these events…. Those who died at that time were not our enemies, but our citizens. Some of those who died were children. No one can speak of children as enemies."

Judge Ozsu concludes: "The Swiss Court’s verdict is neither against democracy nor freedom of expression. Switzerland simply does not allow the events leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people to be characterized by racist and insensitive words that insult people’s dignity. Switzerland simply does not allow that the victim be victimized for a second time!"

Given the Turkish government’s well-established record of punishing all factual references to the Armenian Genocide, we fear that this righteous judge may be dismissed from his job and even get imprisoned for simply telling the truth!

By Harut Sassounian, Publisher, The California Courier

Tuesday, November 04, 2008



The US Department of State recently discovered a document proving
that over 1934 the Turkish government continued its genocide policy
towards the Armenian population.

In a letter sent from the US Embassy in Ankara, Ambassador Robert
P. Skinner summarizes the way in which the Turkish government
constrained the remaining Armenians living in Anatolia, to give up
their properties before being exiled from their hearths, independent
correspondent Jean Eckian informed.

Robert P. Skinner indicates that: "It is probable, that their expulsion
is quite simply a step moreover of the Turkish government in its
policy stated to make of Anatolia a space purely inhabited by Turks."

Moreover, the dating of this letter shows that the crime committed
against the Armenians is not something which can simply be relegated
to the Ottoman time.

The full text of Ambassador Robert P. Skinner's letter, dated March 2,
1934, is presented below:

"I have the honor to bring to the Department's attention such details
as have reached the Embassy from several sources concerning the recent
deportations of Armenians from the interior of Anatolia to Istanbul.

The deportees began to arrive at Istanbul some six weeks ago and
they are quartered by the Armenian Church and its auxiliary relief
organizations in Churches, school houses and abandoned buildings in
the villages of Oteköy and Yeniköy. About 600 Armenians are now being
taken care of. They are from various towns and villages of Anatolia.

It is assumed by most of the deportees that their expulsion from
their homes in Anatolia is a part of the Government's program of
making Anatolia a pure Turkish district.

They relate that the Turkish police, in towns and villages where
Armenians lived, attempted to instigate local Moslem people to drive
the Armenians away. These efforts failed completely. The authorities
then brought in Turks from Rumeli and intimated to them that they
could take over the Armenian possessions. This new element, however,
instead of taking a hostile attitude toward the Armenians became
most congenial with them. These two means failing, the Armenians
were told that they had to leave at once for Istanbul. They sold
their possessions receiving for them ruinous price. I have been told
that cattle worth several hundred liras a head had been sold for as
little as five liras a head. My informant stated that the Armenians
were permitted to sell their property in order that no one of them
could say that they were forced to abandon it. However, the sale
under these conditions amounted to a practical abandonment.

The Armenians were obliged to walk from their villages to the
railways and then they were shipped by train to Istanbul. Local relief
organizations are doing their best to attempt to find employment is
found. However, the size of the task is staggering. Local sympathetic
people have been canvassed to contribute money for their relief.

The real reasons for the deportations are unknown. A few Armenians
believe that it is due to their superior business methods which
arouses jealousy among certain Turkish elements. The Armenians are
know for their energy and thoroughness in business and many of them
believe that they suffering now for these qualities. It is likely,
though, that their removal is simply one step in the government's
avowed policy of making Anatolia purely Turkish."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Corpses of Armenian children left in gutter - Photo Collection of Armin Wegner

Photo Collection of Armin T. Wegner
Caption: "Abandoned and murdered small children of the (Armenian) deportees, "according to the photographer, 1915-1916. Three are dead including stripped boy in gutter. Location: Ottoman empire, region Syria.


What are your thoughts when you look at this picture?

When I see that man walking away in a suit, shows how indifferent a human being can be to the sufferings of others.
Children are dying and some already dead he walks away.

These children parents are murdered in the hands of Turks because they were Armenians. Now they are orphans.

Indifference is one of the greatest sins.

The Bible tells us:

James 2:13 "For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy"


As a result of the Genocide of the Armenians in 1915, the deportation from Cilicia (1921) and the disaster of Izmir (1922), more than 1.5 million Western Armenians were exterminated in the hands of Turks, while those who were rescued and miraculously survived, remained homeless and deprived of their motherland; they were forced to migrate and to settle in different countries of the world, creating the Armenian Diaspora as a historical reality.

I would like to warn you, after reading these testimonies you might "lose" your mind thinking how a human being can do such a cruel thing to another human being.


Monday, October 27, 2008

About The Turkish Denial

Research on the Armenian Genocide has experienced a remarkable growth in recent years. Survivors' memoirs, editions of diplomatic documents, eyewitness accounts by missionaries and others, case studies, and monographic research on various aspects of the Genocide provide informed insights into the nature of the crime.

A considerable number of the available studies on the subject have involved the denial of this genocide. Deniers allege that the Ottoman government never persecuted systematically or attempted to exterminate the empire's Armenian population. On the contrary, one is asked to believe that it was the Armenians who killed a substantial part of the Muslim population in what is presented as a "civil war". Moreover Armenians are blamed for having started this civil war in order to assist the Russian army's advance on the Eastern front and to bring down the Ottoman government. Deniers maintain that relatively few Armenians died in connection with what they claim to have been a legitimate act of Ottoman government self-defense.

Denial of genocide is not unique to the Armenian case. As with other crimes, perpetrators try to avoid punishment by obstructing investigation and research. Those engaged in denial employ a multitude of techniques. These methods cover a wide range of activities, from simply ignoring the established historical record to the intimidation of scholars.

Denial of both the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide was initiated by the perpetrators immediately upon commencement of the extermination of their targeted victims. However, denial of the Armenian Genocide differs significantly from that of the Holocaust. Whereas the Nazi Germans were permanently crippled by their defeat in World War II, the Ottoman government was able to reorganize itself following defeat. With slightly altered personnel, the government that had been the "Committee of Union and Progress" (CUP), which was responsible for the Armenian Genocide, was able to reemerge by way of the nationalist movement, ostensibly led by Mustafa Kemal Pasha. Thus, the CUP cadres managed to keep control to Turkish politics for many years to come and were able to perpetuate their denial propaganda as the official Turkish historical thesis on the Armenian Genocide. This denial was, and today still is, formulated in official Turkish government publications and distributed worldwide.

Hilmar Kaiser
German research scholar and historian from
the European University Institute in Florence, Italy

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Those who want to shield today’s Turkey from responsibility for the Armenian Genocide have sought to blame the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire rather than the Republic of Turkey which was not established until 1923.

One wonders then why Turkish officials, who have tried every trick to deny the facts of the Armenian Genocide, have not taken the easy way out by shifting the blame for the Genocide to the long defunct Ottoman Empire.

A frequently advanced explanation is that Turks, as a proud people, cannot accept that their ancestors committed the heinous crime of seeking to eliminate an entire nation. Others have argued that should the Republic of Turkey blame the Ottomans for the Armenian Genocide, it could be held legally liable as the successor state to the Ottoman Empire.

In recent years, however, it has become clear, particularly through the painstaking research conducted by Turkish scholar Taner Akcam, that a key reason why today’s Turkish officials are not prepared to face their history honestly and blame their Ottoman ancestors is that the Republic of Turkey is actually the continuation of the Ottoman state. Indeed, many of the early leaders of the Turkish Republic had been high-ranking Ottoman officials personally involved in the implementation of the Armenian Genocide. Such an unbroken transition in leadership assured the continuity of the Ottomans’ anti-Armenian policies.

In retrospect, it has become apparent that these genocidal policies stretched over a half century, starting with Sultan Abdul Hamid’s massacre of 300,000 Armenians in 1894-96, followed by the killings of 30,000 Armenians in Adana by the Young Turk regime in 1909, culminating in the Genocide of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915-23, and the subsequent policies of forced Turkification and deportation of tens of thousands of Armenians by the Republic of Turkey.

An important document from the U.S. archives, known until now to a handful of scholars, was recently posted on an Armenian/Turkish website. It provides incontestable evidence that Armenians continued to be uprooted from their native lands and deported by the Republic of Turkey well into the 1930’s for purely racial reasons.

The document in question is a "Strictly Confidential" cable dated March 2, 1934, sent by U.S. Ambassador Robert P. Skinner from Ankara to the Secretary of State in Washington, reporting the deportation of 600 Armenians from "the interior of Anatolia to Istanbul."

The Ambassador wrote: "It is assumed by most of the deportees that their expulsion from their homes in Anatolia is a part of the Government’s program of making Anatolia a pure Turkish district. They relate that the Turkish police, in towns and villages where Armenians lived, attempted to instigate local Moslem people to drive the Armenians away. … The Armenians were told that they had to leave at once for Istanbul. They sold their possessions receiving for them ruinous prices. I have been told that cattle worth several hundred liras a head had been sold for as little as five liras a head. My informant stated that the Armenians were permitted to sell their property in order that no one of them could say that they were forced to abandon it. However, the sale under these conditions amounted to a practical abandonment." Sass

The Ambassador further reported: "The Armenians were obliged to walk from their villages to the railways and then they were shipped by train to Istanbul. … The real reason for the deportations is unknown…. It is likely, though, that their removal is simply one step in the government’s avowed policy of making Anatolia purely Turkish."

Top be sure, in the 1920’s and 30’s thousands of Armenian survivors of the Genocide were forced out from their homes in Anatolia to other locations in Turkey or neighboring countries. These racist policies were followed in the 1940’s by Varlik Vergisi, the imposition of exorbitant wealth taxes on Armenians, Greeks and Jews, and the 1955 Istanbul pogroms during which many Greeks and some Armenians and Jews were killed and their properties destroyed.

This barbaric continuum of massacre, genocide and deportation highlights the existence of a long-term stratagem implemented by successive Turkish regimes from the 1890’s to recent times in order to solve the Armenian Question with finality.

Consequently, the Republic of Turkey is legally responsible for its own crimes as well as those committed by its Ottoman predecessors.

By Harut Sassounian, Publisher, The California Courier

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Turkey scared to admit Armenian genocide, says historian

  • The Guardian,
  • Monday September 22 2008
Members of the Armenian community join a demonstration march in London

Members of the Armenian community join a demonstration march in London in 2005. Photograph: Edmond Terakopian/PA

Turkey risks a collapse of its secular political system akin to that of the Soviet Union if it bows to international pressure to recognise the 1915-22 Armenian genocide, the head of Armenia's state memorial to the event has told the Guardian.

Hayk Demoyan said Ankara could not acknowledge the systematic killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman troops during the first world war because it would lead to a wholesale re-writing of history and undermine the ideological basis of the Turkish state.

In remarks that will cast a shadow over attempts to forge a new Turkish-Armenian rapprochement, he said those implicated included Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of modern Turkey and a figure Turks are taught to revere. Historical documents proved Atatürk committed "war crimes" against Armenians and other groups in his drive to create an ethnically homogeneous Turkish state, Demoyan insisted. "Fear of rewriting history is the main fear of modern Turkey," said Demoyan, director of The Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute in Yerevan, Armenia's capital.

"It is a fear of facing historical reality and causing a total collapse of the ideological axis that modern republican Turkey was formed around. Turks get panicked when you compare Atatürk's legacy to Lenin.

Atatürk was sentenced to death in absentia by a military judge to punish war crimes during the first world war. There are documents from non-Armenian sources listing him as a war criminal ."

Demoyan's remarks come amid fledgling attempts to re-establish links between two countries which have not had diplomatic relations since 1994, following a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Turkey's ally.

Tentative efforts towards normalising ties occurred this month when the Turkish president, Abdullah Gül, visited Yerevan to attend a World Cup football match between Turkey and Armenia at the invitation of his Armenian counterpart, Serge Sarkisian.

Unlike most visiting heads of state, Gül did not visit the genocide museum, which displays documentary and photographic exhibits proving, Armenian officials say, that their ethnic brethren were subjected to deliberate genocide. Turkey vehemently denies this and has jailed Turkish citizens who argued otherwise. However, rising numbers of Turkish tourists and journalists have visited the museum recently.

"More than 500 Turks have visited this year. They've come in unprecedented numbers," Demoyan said. "Their reaction is one of shock. At first there is denial. Sometimes they ask: 'What is our sin?' or 'How can we be responsible for this?'. It's not taught in Turkish schools, so we understand their reaction."

Turkey claims the Armenian death toll has been exaggerated and that most victims died from starvation or disease. It also argues that many Turks were killed by Armenian groups.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

126 Holocaust Scholars Affirm The Incontestable Fact Of The Armenian Genocide And Urge Western Democracies To Officially Recognise It As Such

Statement by 126 Holocaust Scholars, Holders of Academic Chairs, and Directors of Holocaust Research and Studies Centers – March 7th, 2000

At the Thirtieth Anniversary of the Scholar’s Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches Convening at St. Joseph University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 3-7, 2000, one hundred and twenty-six Holocaust Scholars, holders of Academic Chairs and Directors of Holocaust Research and Studies Centers, participants of the Conference, signed a statement affirming that the World War I Armenian Genocide is an incontestable historical fact and accordingly urge the governments of Western democracies to likewise recognize it as such.

The petitioners, among whom is Nobel Laureate for Peace Elie Wiesel, who was the keynote speaker at the conference, also asked the Western Democracies to urge the Government and Parliament of Turkey to finally come to terms with a dark chapter of Ottoman-Turkish history and to recognize the Armenian Genocide. This would provide an invaluable impetus to the process of the democratization of Turkey.

Below is a partial list of the signatories:

Prof. Yehuda Bauer Distinguished Professor, Hebrew University; Director, The International Institute of Holocaust Research,Yad Vashem, Jerusalem

Prof. Israel Charny, Director Institute of the Holocaust and Genocide, Jerusalem; Professor at the Hebrew University; Editor-in-Chief of The

Encyclopedia of Genocide

Prof. Ward Churchill – Ethnic Studies, The University of Colorado, Boulder

Prof. Stephen Feinstein – Director, Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Minnesota

Prof. Saul Friedman – Director, Holocaust and Jewish Studies, Youngston State University, Ohio

Prof. Edward Gaffney – Valparaiso University Law School

Prof. Zev Garber Los Angeles Valley College

Prof. Dorota Glowacka University of King’s College, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Dr. Irving Greenberg, – President, Jewish Life Network

Prof. Herbert Hirsch – Virginia Commonwealth University

Prof. Irving L. Horowitz – Hannah Arendt Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University, NJ

Rabbi Dr. Steve Jacobs – Temple Sinai Shalom, Huntsville, Alabama; Associate Editor of The Encyclopedia of Genocide

Prof. Steven Katz – Distinguish Professor, Director, Center for Judaic Studies, Boston University

Prof. Richard Libowitz – Temple University

Dr. Elizabeth Maxwell – Executive Director of the International Scholarly, Conference on the Holocaust, London, England

Prof. Erik Markusen – Southwest State University, MN

Prof. Saul Mendlowitz – Dag Hammerskjold Distinguished Professor of International Law, Rutgers University

Prof. Jack Needle – Director, Center for Holocaust Studies, Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, NJ

Dr. Philip Rosen – Director, Holocaust Education Center of the Delaware Valley

Prof. Alan S, Rosenbaum – Dept. of Philosophy, Cleveland State University

William L. Shulman – President, Association of Holocaust Organizations City University of New York

Prof. Samuel Totten – The University of Arkansas; Assoc. Editor of The Encyclopedia of Genocide

Prof. Elie Wiesel – Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities, Boston University; Founding Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial

Council; Nobel Laureate for Peace

I hereby declare that the originals of these one hundred and twenty-six signatories are on file in my office. All affiliations supplied are for identification purposes only.

Dr. Stephen Feinstein,

Director, Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Minnesota

Monday, July 14, 2008

A landmark Armenian-Kurdish Conference held in the UK parliament.

Armenian Solidarity with the Victims of all Genocides
Centre of Halabja against the Anfalization and Genocide of Kurdish People
Seyfo Centre
c/o The Temple of Peace, Cardiff, Wales 07718982732

A landmark Armenian-Kurdish Conference held in the UK parliament.
Establishment of a permanent Kurdish-Armenian dialogue

This week marked a development in Armeno-Kurdish relations with a major
Conference held in the UK parliament. Nearly all of the UK Kurdish
organisations were represented.
On tuesday, in the House of Commons, Prof Kamal Mazhar Ahmad, former
Professor of history at Baghdad University gave a presentatiion based on
his book on the Kurds in World War 1 and the Armenian Genocide. He had
quoted from witnessess such as Faez Al-Ghosain who was in Turkey at the
time of the Genocide. He maintained that the killings were premeditated
by the Turkish state, rather than being outbursts of violence at local
level. His presentation (delivered in Arabic and translated) was well
received and several Kurds in the audience rose at the end to say that
Kurds should apologise for the involvement of many of them in the
Genocide. Several expressed their desire to become involved in the work
for Recognition of this Genocide .
It was decided unanimously, at the suggestion of Adnan Kochar,
director of CHAK, that we should write to the KRG government to ask for
official recognition of the 1915 Genocide of the Armenians and the
Assyrians, and also to the Armenian Government to ask for official
recognition of the Anfal Genocide
The other speaker, eminent Kurdish writer Rebwar Fatah concentrated
on issues of Human Rights related to Genocide.

On wednesday in the House of Lords, the issue of the betrayal of
Armenians, Kurds and Assyrians by the Great Powers in the Treaty of
Lausanne was addressed (close to its 85th anniversary). The speakers
were researcher Tony Kahve, writer Dr Kemal Miredali and researcher Ms
Soma Mallzada. The legitimacy of the Lausanne Treaty was challanged and
questioned from the perspective of the three nations which were not
allowed to participate in its creation.It was noted that Turkey has
continually broken the terms of the treaty, rendering it even more
invalid. The speeches will be ready for distribution soon.
One valuable contribution was sent to the Conference by Haydar Issik
a Kurdish writer now in Germany. (below)



BY HAYDAR ISIK (trans. Tony Kahve)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I greet you sincerely and would like to begin by an extract from
David Kherdian's book called "In the Shadow of the Crescent." It was
published in Germany by the Peri publishing house. It reads as follows:

"Even if we are divided by force, we still remain one family. If one of
us dies, undoubtedly something dies in all of us. But if only one of us
survives then we will all live through that survivor. No happiness
emanates from disaster. What the Turk does is insanity. You may get
serenity one day followed by disaster the next.

We must wait and see as to which gate God will reveal to us.

I hope that the avenue which is about to open in front of us will also
bring us back. Whatever happens you must return."

These are the words of a grandmother of a large and prosperous
Armenian family in the Anatolian town of Afyon, before she was deported
to the Syrian desert.

Firstly, the young men were conscripted into the army, shortly after the
deportations begun.

At this point, I would like to note that the only survivor of the
family in the desert town of Deir Zor was a child called Veron. Indeed,
under these circumstances, even if he could return to Afyon, there was
no longer any one there to greet him. The land of Anatolia and the
Syrian deserts became the grave of 1.5 million Armenians. Incredibly,
even their graves could not be in their motherland. Their remains merely
gained the attention of scavenging animals. This is the greatest
humanitarian crime committed against the Armenian nation during the
first quarter of the twentieth century. It is a Genocide. Consequently,
the mass barbarism must be seriously questioned. The responsible element
must face its history. Bypassing the issue is sanctioning Genocide, thus
opening the gates of new Genocides. Claiming that we committed no such
crime and that they committed such crimes against us does not hide the

Anatolia's ancient people have felt the death of 1.5 million
Armenians, thus something has also died within those Turks and Kurds who
consider themselves human beings. Anatolia was a land populated with
Armenians at every sunrise, with them it was a beautiful land. Where are
our Armenian neighbours today? Why can't these ancient people of
Anatolia return to their country? Why shouldn't the present day sunrise
greet them as it used to? Previously, despite religious differences, the
Turk, the Armenian, the Assyrian and the Syrian as well as the Kurd were
one family. The Armenian man was enriching Anatolia with art and
culture. You have to think for a moment that if this Genocide had not
taken place couldn't all Anatolians still pursue a prosperous life
jointly? Doesn't the answer to this question reflect the words of the
old women that: "What the Turk does is insanity"? Indeed if this
insanity had not been committed the peoples of Anatolia today would
still have coexisted prosperously.

The Armenian people were the true owners of certain regions of
Anatolia and were the true wealth of those regions. What did the
destroyers of this wealth truly gain in their single-minded disease
incorporating a frenzy of Pan Islam and racist Pan-Turkism? The reality
is that now they are unable to wipe away the Armenian blood which stains
their foreheads permanently. Now, which ever door Turkey knocks on there
appears the Armenian Genocide.

The Kurds also became the triggers and revolvers of this genocide. I
never forget the statement made in 1956 by a Muslim called Sofu Hasan
from the town of Mush. "We were told that the Armenians were to attack
the mosque. We, however, acted rapidly and quickly gathered them. I know
that I killed five Armenians with one bullet".

Sofu Hasan believed he was conducting the orders of former Caliphs.
He would pray profoundly for the day when he would be received by God.
The important point to comprehend here is that the spirit of Sofu Hasan
has now entered the AKP the ruling party in Turkey. AKP believes that it
has inherited the Ottoman past, and does not recognise the Genocide,
this means that it is sanctioning it.

During the late nineteenth century, 36 Kurdish clans were organised
into special brigades by Sultan Abdul Hamid in order to eliminate the
Armenians. Thus the Kurds became the instruments of that government.
Today, however, 75 members of the Grand National/Assembly fortified with
a number of ministers have become the triggers against the Kurds. The
Kurdish brigades of the past are the shame of the Kurdish people.

One Armenian survivor of the Genocide describes his experience as
such: "Our deportation column gradually got smaller, partly because
numerous children were killed or kidnapped. One night we were
approaching a caravanserai, fifteen of the surviving children rushed to
a well next to the buildings in order to drink water. The officer in
charge believed that their true intention was to escape. Consequently,
two gendarmes were sent after them. They were promptly put in a line and
shot. They were between 8 and 12 years old.(Erlebnisse, Therese Lehmann
Haupt p8 Donat & Temman Veslag)

Unfortunately, the nature of these events is most heart breaking.
Sadly, even today we live in a state that the Turkish police, in front
of the TV cameras, will break the arm of a child and viciously beat
women and children. The Turkish soldier will happily decimate the bodies
of the guerrillas he has killed. Such violence demonstrates once again
the murderous continuity emanating from the Committee of Union and
Progress and its extension the Kemalist regime.

This ideology [based on Turkism] incorporates cultural elimination,
thus Armenians are unable to survive in Anatolia. Murder of Hrant Dink
was also committed by the same insane psyche. The same insanity is now
attempting to eliminate the Kurds. AKP and its generals have spread
their war throughout Kurdistan. The Turkish regime is racist and
ideologically lives in the past. Turkey must apologise to the Armenians
and promote the principles of peace and equality with the Kurds;
otherwise it cannot survive by a policy of permanent murder. Turkish
politicians should get on their knees at the Genocide Monument in
Yerevan and ask for forgiveness. Just as Willy Brandt did in Warsaw for
the Second World War crimes.

What has happened to the Armenians should never be forgotten.
Anatolian people must be told the truth. Personally I have been
threatened numerous times due to the articles I have written about the
Armenians. But as a human being it is my duty to acknowledge the
Armenian Genocide. At every opportunity, I present articles and continue
to make speeches. Thus, I convey my support to the Armenian people and
wish them all the success

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Armenian Genocide in History

The Armenian Genocide in History

For decades before they were the victims of genocide, Armenians living as a Christian minority in the Muslim-dominated Ottoman Empire were accorded second-class citizenship. It was against the law for them to carry weapons or ride horses. Their houses could not overlook those of Muslims. Testimony from Armenians was not admissible in courts of law — just as slaves and even freedmen in the 19th-century American South were barred from testifying against whites.

This official state discrimination opened the door to massive violence preceding the ultimate genocide. Between 100,000 and 300,000 Armenians were massacred in 1895. Another 15,000 to 30,000 were killed on a single day in 1909. When the Ottoman Empire entered World War I in 1914 on the side of Central Powers, its military and political leaders feared the oppressed Armenians would form a fifth column and collaborate with the Russians, who were pressing hard at the collapsing empire's eastern edges. There is strong evidence that some Armenian men of fighting age did in fact take up arms against Turkish troops, fighting as pro-Russian guerrillas.

Armenian men enlisted in the Turkish army were disarmed and reassigned to labor battalions, and widespread propaganda began depicting Armenians as a collective threat to national security. On April 24, 1915, the Ottoman government imprisoned around 250 Armenian intellectuals and leaders. This marked the beginning of the genocide, which eventually resulted in the deaths of between 1 million and 1.5 million people. During the next six months, by government order, more than a million Armenians were forcibly deported and marched through the desert into Syria with little or no food, water or shelter. Others were herded into concentration camps and drowned, poisoned, burned to death or shot.

Armenian slaughter

The documentary evidence of the genocide includes a 1915 telegram to a Turkish provincial official from Behaeddin Shakir, one of the leaders of the secret organization created to plan and carry out the genocide, which included death squads staffed by criminals released from prison for that purpose. "Are the Armenians, who are being dispatched from there, being liquidated?" Shakir wrote. "Are those harmful persons being exterminated, or are they merely being dispatched and exiled? Answer explicitly."

Eyewitnesses to the genocide included Henry Morgenthau, the American ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at the time. "When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were simply giving the death warrant to a whole race," he said. "They understood this well, and in their conversations they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact."

— David Holthouse

State of Denial

Turkey Spends Millions to Cover Up Armenian Genocide

By David Holthouse
Early this year, the Toronto District School Board voted to require all public high school students in Canada's largest city to complete a new course titled "Genocide: Historical and Contemporary Implications." It includes a unit on the Armenian genocide, in which more than a million Armenians perished in a methodical and premeditated scheme of annihilation orchestrated by the rulers of Turkey during and just after World War I.

The school board members each soon received a letter from Guenter Lewy, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts, rebuking them for classifying the Armenian genocide in the same category as the Holocaust. "The tragic fate of the Armenian community during World War I," Lewy wrote, is best understood as "a badly mismanaged war-time security measure," rather than a carefully plotted genocide.

Turkish president Abdullah Gul warns of severe repercussions to the relations between the United States and Turkey if the "Armenian allegations are accepted."

Lewy is one of the most active members of a network of American scholars, influence peddlers and website operators, financed by hundreds of thousands of dollars each year from the government of Turkey, who promote the denial of the Armenian genocide — a network so influential that it was able last fall to defy both historical truth and enormous political pressure to convince America's lawmakers and even its president to reverse long-held policy positions.

Lewy makes similar revisionist claims in his 2005 book The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide and in frequent lectures at university campuses across the country. Speaking at Harvard University in March 2007, he chalked up the ghastly Armenian death toll to "bungling misrule," and stressed that "it is important to bear in mind the enormous difference between ineptness, even ineptness that had tragic consequences" and deliberate mass murder.

"Armenians call the calamitous events of 1915-1916 in the Ottoman Empire the first genocide of the twentieth century," he said. "Most Turks refer to this episode as war time relocation made necessary by the treasonous conduct of the Armenian minority. The debate on what actually happened has been going on for almost 100 years and shows no signs of resolution."

But it's not only Armenians calling the slaughter a genocide, and there is no real debate about its essential details, according to the vast majority of credible historians. Although Lewy's brand of genocide denial is subtler than that of Holocaust deniers who declare there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz, it's no less an attempt to rewrite history.

"The overwhelming opinion of scholars who study genocide — hundreds of independent scholars, who have no affiliations with governments, and whose work spans many countries and nationalities and the course of decades — is consistent," the International Association of Genocide Scholars stated in a 2005 letter to the Turkish government.

"The scholarly evidence reveals the following: On April 24, 1915, under cover of World War I, the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire began a systematic genocide of its Armenian citizens — an unarmed Christian minority population. More than a million Armenians were exterminated through direct killing, starvation, torture, and forced death marches. The rest of the Armenian population fled into permanent exile. Thus an ancient civilization was expunged from its homeland of 2,500 years."

Double Killing
Despite this clear consensus of experts, Turkey exerts political leverage and spends millions of dollars in the United States to obfuscate the Armenian genocide, with alarming success even at the highest levels of government. Lobbyists on the Turkish payroll stymied a Congressional resolution commemorating the genocide last fall by convincing lawmakers to reverse their stated positions. Even President Bush flip-flopped.

Revisionist historians who conjure doubt about the Armenian genocide and are paid by the Turkish government provided the politicians with the intellectual cover they needed to claim they were refusing to dictate history rather than caving in to a foreign government's present-day interests.

"This all happened a long time ago, and I don't know if we can know whether it was a massacre or a genocide or what," said U.S. Rep. John Murtha (D-Penn.) after changing his vote.

"The last thing Congress should be doing is deciding the history of an empire [the Ottoman empire] that doesn't even exist any more," said President Bush.

But experts in genocide saw things quite differently.

"Denial is the final stage of genocide," says Gregory Stanton, president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars. "It is a continuing attempt to destroy the victim group psychologically and culturally, to deny its members even the memory of the murders of their relatives. That is what the Turkish government today is doing to Armenians around the world."

Last year, the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity issued a letter condemning Armenian genocide denial that was signed by 53 Nobel laureates including Wiesel, the famous Holocaust survivor and political activist. Wiesel has repeatedly called Turkey's 90-year-old campaign to cover up the Armenian genocide a double killing, since it strives to kill the memory of the original atrocities.

He was hardly the first. As long ago as 1943, law professor Raphael Lemkin, who would later serve as an advisor to Nuremburg chief counsel Robert Jackson, coined the term "genocide" with the Armenians in mind.

Stanton, a former U.S. State Department official who drafted the United Nations Security Council resolutions that created the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, spoke this April at a United States Capitol ceremony honoring victims of the Armenian genocide — a ceremony held four months after the bill to commemorate the slaughter was shot down.

"The U.S. government should not be party to efforts to kill the memory of a historical fact as profound and important as the genocide of the Armenians, which Hitler used as an example in his plan for the Holocaust," Stanton said before an audience that included three survivors of the Armenian genocide and more than 100 representatives and senators.

Infiltrating the Academy
Efforts to kill the memory of the Armenian genocide began while carrion birds were still picking over corpses in their desert boneyards, with Turkey issuing a first official statement assuring the world at large that no atrocities had occurred. Turkey's primary strategy for denying the Armenian genocide since then has shifted from blanket denial to disputing the death toll to blaming the massacres on Kurdish bandits and a few rogue officials to claiming the Armenians who died were enemy combatants in a civil war.
Turkish ambassador Nuzhet Kandemir

Turkey began intervening in the U.S. on behalf of denying the genocide in the 1930s, when Turkish leaders convinced the U.S. State Department to prevent MGM studios from making a movie based on the book The Forty Days of the Musa Dagh because it depicted aspects of the Armenian genocide.

In 1982, the government of Turkey donated $3 million to create the Institute for Turkish Studies, a nonprofit organization housed at Georgetown University that pushes a pro-Turkey agenda, including denial of the Armenian genocide. Three years later, in 1985, Turkey bought full-page advertisements in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Washington Times to publish a letter questioning the Armenian genocide that was signed by 69 American scholars. All 69 had received funding that year from the Institute for Turkish Studies or another of Turkey's surrogates like the Ankara Chamber of Commerce, a quasi-governmental agency in Turkey's capital city.

The Institute for Turkish Studies has since received sizable donations from American defense contractors that sell arms to Turkey, including General Dynamics and Westinghouse. Turkey continues to provide an annual subsidy to support the institute. In 2006, the most recent year for which tax records are available, the institute awarded $85,000 in grants to scholars. Its chairman is the current Turkish ambassador to the U.S., Nabi Sensoy.

Robert Jay Lifton

The first unassailable evidence of the extent of the Armenian genocide denial industry's reach in academic circles arrived in 1990 in an envelope addressed to Robert Jay Lifton, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the City University of New York's Graduate Center and John Jay College. It contained a letter signed by Nuzhet Kandemir, who was then Turkey's ambassador to the United States, protesting Lifton's inclusion of several passing references to the Armenian genocide in his prize-winning book The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide.

"It is particularly disturbing to see a major scholar on the holocaust, a tragedy whose enormity and barbarity must never be forgotten, so careless in his references to a field outside his own area of expertise," Kandemir wrote. "To compare a tragic civil war perpetrated by misguided Armenian nationalists, and the human suffering it wrought on both Muslim and Christian populations, with the horrors of a premeditated attempt to systematically eradicate a people is, to anyone familiar with the history in question, simply ludicrous."

There was nothing out of the ordinary about Kandemir's letter. Academics who write about the Armenian genocide were then and still are routinely castigated by Turkish authorities.

What Lifton found intriguing, however, was a second letter in the envelope, which the Turkish ambassador had included quite by accident. It was a memo to Kandemir from Near East historian Heath Lowry, in which Lowry provided Kandemir with a point-by-point cheat sheet on how to attack Lifton's book, which Lowry chummily referred to as "our problem."

Lowry at the time was the founding director of the Institute for Turkish Studies. He resigned that position in 1996 when he was selected from a field of 20 candidates to fill the Ataturk Chair of Turkish Studies at Princeton University, a new position in the Near Eastern Studies department that was created with a $750,000 matching grant from the government of Turkey.

Prior to joining the Princeton faculty, Lowry had never held a full-time teaching position and had not published a single work of scholarship through a major publishing house. As a result of that and of what The Boston Globe described in 1995 as his work as "a long-time lobbyist for the Turkish government," his appointment sparked a firestorm of controversy. A protest group called Princeton Alumni for Credibility published a petition decrying Lowry's appointment that was signed by more than 80 leading scholars and writers, including Kurt Vonnegut, Arthur Miller, Cornel West, Joyce Carol Oates and many historians and experts in genocide.

Peter Balakian, the director of Colgate University's Center for the Study of Ethics and World Societies and the author of The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response, called Lowry "a propagandist for a foreign government."

Speaking at a 2005 symposium at Princeton commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, Balakian posed a rhetorical question: "Would a university want someone who worked with a neo-Nazi group to cover up the Holocaust on their faculty?"

The relationship of Turkey to U.S. scholars promoting Armenian genocide denial is similar to that of the oil industry to fringe climatologists who dispute the reality of global warming. The cause and effect relationship is murky. It's impossible to know for sure if they're making the claims to get the money or getting the money because they make the claims. And many of those who receive money from the Institute of Turkish Studies do little or nothing to support the government's version of what happened to its Armenian minority.

But a number of them certainly seem to, including Justin A. McCarthy, a professor of history at the University of Louisville. McCarthy claims that death tolls attributed to what he calls "this imaginary Turkish plan" are grossly exaggerated and resulted from justifiable wartime self-defense actions triggered by traitorous Armenians conspiring with Turkey's enemies.

McCarthy also points out that Armenians massacred Turks on at least one occasion before the "so-called Armenian genocide." In other words, they had it coming. "The question of who started the conflicts is important, both historically and morally important," McCarthy declared in a 2005 speech before the Turkish Grand National Assembly. "In more than 100 years of warfare, Turks and Armenians killed each other. The question of who began the killing must be understood, because it is seldom justifiable to be the aggressor, but is always justifiable to defend yourself."

He continued: "If those who defend themselves go beyond defense and exact revenge, as always happens in war, they should be identified and criticized. But those who should be most blamed are those who began the wars, those who committed the first evil deeds, and those who caused the bloodshed. Those who began the conflict were the Armenian nationalists, the Armenian revolutionaries. The guilt is on their heads."

Enforcing the Turkish View
Dink murder
Hrant Dink (Corbis)
In France and Switzerland, it's a crime to deny the Armenian genocide. In Turkey, it's a crime to affirm it.

Enacted in 2005, Article 301 of the Turkish penal code makes it illegal for any citizen or resident of Turkey to give credence to the Armenian genocide. Numerous journalists and scholars have been prosecuted for "denigrating Turkishness" under that statute, beginning with Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, who was charged for stating, "A million Armenians were killed in these lands." Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor Hrant Dink was prosecuted three times for criticizing the Turkish government's longstanding policy of denying the Armenian genocide.

Where the law failed to silence Dink, bullets succeeded. He was gunned down in front of his central Istanbul office last January by a Turkish ultranationalist. Footage and photos later surfaced of the assassin celebrating in front of a Turkish flag with grinning policemen.

Dink murder
The assassination last year of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink (above), an outspoken critic of Armenian genocide denial, sparked protests throughout Turkey. (Corbis)

Dink's friend and ideological ally Tanner Ackam, a distinguished Turkish historian and sociologist on the faculty of the University of Minnesota's Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, attended Dink's funeral in Turkey, despite the considerable risk to his own life. Ackam, a leading international authority on the Armenian genocide, was marked for death by Turkish ultranationalists following the November 2006 publication of his book, A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and The Question of Turkish Responsibility. The book is a definitive history based in large part on official documents from Turkish government archives.

"It would be better for world peace and truth if sewer germs like you were taken off the planet," went one of the dozens of anonymous threats Ackam continues to receive in Minnesota. "Pray that the devil takes you away soon because otherwise you'll be living a hell on earth. … Who am I? You're going to find out, Tanner, you're going to find out."

Turkish ultranationalists have, in effect, targeted many other people who, like Ackam, affirm the genocide. Several of their websites include home addresses, phone numbers and photos of these scholars.

Genocide deniers often disrupt Ackam's lectures. In November 2006, a gang of Turkish ultranationalists attacked him at a book signing at City University of New York.

"Denial of the Armenian genocide has developed over the decades to become a complex and far-reaching machine that rivals the Nazi Germany propaganda ministry," says Ackam. "This machine runs on academic dishonesty, fabricated information, political pressure, intimidation and threats, all funded or supported, directly or indirectly, by the Turkish state. It has become a huge industry."

Convincing Congress
Academia is one of two major American fronts in Turkey's campaign to kill the memory of the Armenian genocide. The other is Congress.

As the only Muslim-dominated country in a troubled region to call the U.S. and Israel its allies, Turkey wields significant political influence that it uses to prevent the U.S. from joining 22 other nations in officially recognizing the Armenian genocide as a historical fact.

In 1989, the U.S. State Department released archived eyewitness accounts that, according to State Department officials, showed that "thousands and thousands of Armenians, mostly innocent and helpless women and children, were butchered." That same year, a bill commemorating the genocide was introduced in the U.S. Senate. But Turkey responded by blocking U.S. Navy ships from entering strategically important Turkish waters and by declaring a ban on all U.S. military training operations on Turkish territory. The bill quickly evaporated.

Richard Gephardt

Last September, the matter came up again. The U.S. House Foreign Relations Committee voted to bring a nonbinding resolution to the floor of Congress condemning the mass murder of Armenians by Ottoman Turks, placing the death toll at 1.5 million, and labeling the killing a "genocide."

This time, Turkey responded by recalling its ambassador to the United States and forecasting dire repercussions. "In the case that Armenian allegations are accepted, there will be problems in the relations between the two countries," warned Turkish President Abdullah Gul.

"Yesterday, some in Congress wanted to play hardball," said Egmen Bagis, foreign policy advisor to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "I can assure you, Turkey knows how to play hardball."

The next day, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack apologized to Turkey on behalf of the United States by issuing a statement expressing "regret" for the committee's actions, which, he cautioned, "may do grave harm to U.S.-Turkish relations and to U.S. interests in Europe and the Middle East."

Bob Livingston

Defense Secretary Robert Gates added his opposition to the resolution and pointed out that 70% of the air cargo sent to U.S. forces in Iraq and 30% of the fuel consumed by those forces is delivered via Turkey. President Bush, perhaps forgetting his campaign promise in 2000 to push for official recognition of the Armenian genocide if elected president, also came out against the resolution.

While Turkish officials made threats, lobbyists paid by Turkey delivered money to congressmen in the form of campaign and political action committee donations. Louisiana representative Bobby Jindal (a Republican who's now Louisiana's governor) and Mississippi representative Roger Wicker (now a Republican senator representing that state) both dropped their sponsorship of the resolution and began speaking against it — but only after receiving around $20,000 each from former congressmen Bob Livingston, a Republican, and Richard Gephardt, a Democrat, who now work for lobbying firms contracted by Turkey to oppose any recognition of the Armenian genocide.

In 2000, while still in office, Gephardt had declared that he was "committed to obtaining official U.S. government recognition of the Armenian genocide." In 2003, he co-sponsored a resolution placing "the Armenian genocide" in the company of the World War II Holocaust and mass deaths in Cambodia and Rwanda that was voted down after a Turkish lobbying blitzkrieg.

Since leaving office and accepting a $1.2 million-a-year contract to lobby for Turkey, the former House majority leader has experienced a profound change of heart. "Alienating Turkey through the passage of the resolution could undermine our efforts to promote stability in the theater of [Middle East] operations, if not exacerbate the situation further," he wrote in an E-mail to the International Herald Tribune. Last fall, as part of his efforts to help torpedo the symbolic Armenian genocide resolution, Gephardt escorted Turkish Ambassador Nabi Sensoy to meetings with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders.

Bob Livingston, whose firm has been paid more than $12 million by the Turkish government since 1999, also pitched in. As part of the lobbying effort last fall that U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), one of the sponsors of the resolution, called "the most intense I've ever seen," Livingston shepherded Turkish dignitaries from office to office on Capitol Hill.

As another part of that campaign, the government of Turkey took out full-page advertisements in major American newspapers calling upon the members of Congress to "support efforts to examine history, not legislate it." The ads featured a testimonial from Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice — "These historical circumstances require a very detailed and sober look from historians" — that implied that historians have yet to seriously study the Armenian genocide.

More than 100 supporters of the resolution reversed their positions, and H.R. 106 was voted down.

The government of Turkey has since continued to call for a "historian's commission" of scholars to "study the facts of what happened in 1915-1923." The proposed committee is marketed as a high-minded quest for truth and reconciliation, a long overdue arbitration of disputed history, and a chance to finally give equal weight to both sides of the story.

But as the saying goes, a lie isn't the other side of any story. It's just a lie.

"When it comes to the historical reality of the Armenian genocide, there is no 'Armenian' or 'Turkish' side of the question, any more than there is a 'Jewish' or 'German' side of the historical reality of the Holocaust," writes Torben Jorgensen, of the Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. "There is a scientific side and an unscientific side — acknowledgement or denial."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Armenia's 'Christian holocaust'

In late August 1939, the day before his invasion of Poland, Adolf Hitler gathered his commanders at his home and informed them he had placed "death's head" military formations in the east with orders "to send to death mercilessly and without compassion men, women and children of Polish derivation and language."

He assured his commanders the world would not long condemn them, justifying his brutality by asking rhetorically, "Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?" Hitler was referring to the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces beginning in April 1915. Until today, the Turkish government denies the authenticity of both Hitler's statement and the genocide itself.

Tel Aviv University professor Israel Charny, chief editor of the Encyclopedia of Genocide, insists the statement was recorded by "an indisputably serious" Associated Press correspondent, and that other remarks were made by Hitler that "confirm that the Armenian genocide was an active guiding concept in the monster's mind."

Kevork Kahvedjian, son of Jerusalem photographer and Armenian genocide survivor Elia Kahvedjian, explains his father was personal testimony to the genocide and its savagery. "When it started, he was only five years old, but he remembered it very clearly. Especially the last year of his life he remembered it..." Kevork continually slipped into the first person while recounting his father's story, as if it had happened to him: "I used to see lots of dead people, piles of them. Some had been burned. Until today I remember the smell of burned flesh," he narrated, detailing the death march through the desert.

He remembered the sound of the German cannons pounding the city, then a lull of about a month before the Turkish soldiers entered his home and took Elia, his mother, a sister and two brothers - one brother was just a few months old. Two older brothers had already been hanged.

"Soldiers came and started pushing my mother. She tried to go back to the house but the soldiers hit her with rifle butts and she had to take the children and start walking." The Armenians were allowed only what they could carry. They walked for weeks through the desert of Deir Zor with soldiers on both sides. The soldiers offered neither food nor water, but the prisoners ate some plants and drank brackish water on the way.

After weeks of carrying her six-month-old baby, Elia's mother, exhausted, set the infant in the shade of a tree and abandoned him, hoping some kind person would find him. The older sister, about 12 years old during the march, was abducted. Elia found her 18 years later and discovered she had been forced to serve in a harem.

In a wadi, near the end of the trek, "I heard my mother say, 'Today, I think they're going to kill us.'" It happened that that a Kurd was passing by. She called the Kurd and told him, "Take this boy and go." The Kurd took Elia and the boy remembered, "At the top of the hill we turned around and saw the soldiers killing everyone." The Kurd took Elia, burned his clothes, gave him medicine for dysentery, and sold him to a blacksmith, who eventually sent him away. Elia sought refuge in a Syrian convent. In 1918, when the war was over, the American Near East Relief Foundation began to gather Armenian orphans and distribute them in its orphanages throughout the Middle East.

Elia was transferred to Lebanon, then to Nazareth in 1920. There, one of the teachers was a photographer and Elia worked for him. Elia learned the photography trade and became a prominent photographer. Many beloved pictures of early 20th-century Jerusalem were taken by Elia; the album, Through My Father's Eyes, celebrates his work.

Turkish authorities strive to discredit accounts such as Elia's, although his testimony is confirmed by an abundance of contemporary journalism, eyewitness accounts by statesmen such as American ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morgenthau, as well as German and Austrian documentation.

Charny claims there was "most certainly" a religious element in the persecution of the Armenians, the first empire to embrace the faith. (Armenia officially adopted Christianity as the state religion in 301 CE, about 25 years before the Roman Empire did so.) "There are even some who want to refer to this period overall as 'The Christian Genocide,' because the victims of the Turks' genocide were not only Armenians but also Assyrians and Greeks," he explains. Still, he is reticent to use that term as it "could seem to remove from the Armenian community their hard-won gains for recognition of the genocide of their people."

According to Charney, "What stands out about the denials of the Armenian genocide is that for many years, the full power of the Turkish government has been devoted to denials of the genocide. Turkey literally spends millions on advertising agencies and on publicity efforts. It also throws the considerable weight of its government behind coercing denials from other countries, with threats to the United States of not allowing American military planes to use Turkish air space or threatening to pull out of joint NATO military exercises, as well as with threats of major economic retaliation should or when a country, such as France, confirms recognition of the Armenian genocide.

"Israel is regularly the object of threats by the Turks and, regrettably to say the least, for many years has kowtowed to these threats. But then too so has the stronger United States"

MK Haim Oron (Meretz) proposed in March that the Knesset appoint a committee to consider recognizing the Armenian genocide, adding, "It is unacceptable that the Jewish people is not making itself heard." Although the measure passed, MK Shalom Simhon (Likud) responded, "this has become a politically charged issue between Armenians and Turks, and Israel is not interested in taking sides."

Many Israelis are eager for their country to recognize the genocide. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem will hold an event titled "A Symposium in Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide" at its Givat Ram campus on April 29 at 6:30 p.m. Both Kevork Kahvedjian and Charney will speak.

Israel will eventually recognize the genocide, insists Kevork, who manages his father's business, Elia Photo Service, in Jerusalem's Old City. Kevork, named for the baby left under a tree in the desert, believes, "One day they are going to say, 'Yes, it happened.' If not now, then in 50 years!"

Otherwise, Armenians worry, states that refuse to recognize the genocide risk rendering Hitler's rhetorical question a reality.