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Politicization of history vs. “Facts”...

14 Şubat 2012 , Salı 14:38
Politicization of history vs. “Facts”...
melis.sunay@halklailiskiler.com

We are brought up to weigh both sides of an issue before making a final decision, whether it has an impact on us or a larger portion of our community and surroundings. This is something that I had to focus on being raised in two different countries, in two quite different cultural ‘worlds.’ 

The first time I heard of a so-called “Armenian genocide” committed against an ethnic Turkish minority, I was only in middle school in another country.  It came up following the assassination of two Turkish diplomats in California by Armenian terrorists.  My parents served as my initial source of guidance before I could get to historical archives to use as my principal tool of research to understand this incident and to clarify inaccuracies surrounding the accusations against Turkey (the innocent diplomats).  The recent allegations made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in what many in Turkey and around the world refer to as ‘his political attempt to be re-elected this spring’, spurred on the quest, this time, for the latest research material to resolve this issue once and for all for my peace of mind. After all, honest research involves looking into all sides of an issue.

However unfortunate, this matter has become a tool in the hands of politicians and charges attached also political and unsubstantiated.  I’m tired of this issue being brought up just for the satisfaction of a few, and the loss of not only those in France but millions around the world being used as tools to gain benedictions for self-satisfaction.

There is no historical evidence of a genocide, defined by the UN General Assembly as, ‘the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or a national group,’ committed against the Armenians in 1915; thus, claims of “Genocide” are either relying on dubious and inaccurate sources or using falsified documents to meet the political objectives of various ambitious individuals.

The era under investigation is a time of war, WWI, and the conditions, quite horrifying on the lands of the bankrupt Ottoman Empire of 1914, a.k.a. “the Sick Man of Europe.”

Historical archives of that time reveal that in addition to financial difficulties, an onslaught of external invaders and internal nationalist independence movements led to the Ottoman Empire’s decline at the beginning of the 19thcentury.  Armenian nationalist groups, in addition to various assaults on other citizens of the Ottoman Empire as far back as the 1850’s, entered WWI on the side of Entente Powers. They cooperated with Russian invaders of Eastern Anatolia, joining Armenian revolutionary groups and assisting the Russians and the British in return for the-half promises of independence made to them. Documents maintain that Russians, who later switched their attack to the Dardanelles, however unsuccessfully, never warned their Armenian allies, who were left out in the open for the Turks to take out their vengeance, which they did.

This is when the Turkish military interestingly enough instituted the relocation of all Armenians, young and old, innocent or guilty, to protect its borders, forcing their march from eastern Anatolian border in the dead of winter.  It is quite evident that it wasn’t the Armenians’ race, ethnicity or religion that rendered them subject to relocation; it was the fact that they took arms against their own government with violent political aims.

At this juncture one can see that the Ottomans had no intentions of mass murder of Armenians; on the contrary, the real evidence points to Ottoman efforts in trying to protect Armenians by assigning official sentries to guide them to their destination.  Many of the wealthier citizens were allowed to travel to Istanbul and even to Syria, while masses were killed or perished due to the conditions they faced.  In fact, relatives of my husband’s family were involved in assisting at this stage, placing their own welfare at risk to safeguard the lives of their friends and neighbors passage to Syria.  My grandparents as well as my husband’s fought in WWI, and we are also aware of the conditions of the times as it was told us first hand.  And yes, according to sources, some 700,000 Armenians did die during the times due to the forced migration, inter-communal violence, disease and famine along with 2.7 million other Ottomans due to the same conditions; so documents hardly prove that Armenians were “killed” by the Ottoman Turks.

The obvious question to put to those claiming “Genocide” was committed by the Ottomans, is “How could two-thirds of the Armenian population have survived if there was an extermination plan against them?”

Yet, in spite of all of this, in December the lower house of France’s Parliament voted, after a mere eight hours of deliberation for the adoption of the law criminalizing the ‘denial’ of the killing of an ‘alleged 1.5 million Armenians’ by Ottoman Turks nearly a century ago.  This shows that there are political sources which state that forcing Turkey to admit that there was genocide is still so important for Armenians living abroad, that it has unfortunately become a central part of their identity.

We basically see that genocide charges are political and cannot be substantiated with historical evidence. What Armenians claim as evidence and eyewitness accounts do not amount to more than hearsay and forgeries in the eyes of the law. Knowing they can never win in a court room, “Genocide” alleging Armenians pursue the political and the international media forum.

If that weren’t enough, we see French President Sarkozy appealing to one of the most powerful organizations, Representative Council of the Jewish Institutions of France (CRIF), in his county for a few votes recently by renewing his calls to Turkey to face its history and recognize the Armenian genocide, while a group of French senators appealing to the country’s Constitutional Council to overturn the bill criminalizing its denial on the grounds that it violates the French constitution. I find this current political anxiety and ignorance quite amusing to witness.  

Meanwhile, Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis, on the final day of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last month denied the Armenian genocide by telling reporters that: ‘1915 incidents did not amount to genocide,’ challenging the Swiss anti-racism laws that make genocide denials illegal.  Interestingly, the Swiss government itself appears to not support its own anti-racism laws, having opposed a court ruling that convicted Turkish politician Dogu Perincek for denying that genocide took place and also for supporting the creation of a joint history commission with the Turkish government!   Moreover, no other government has officially supported claims of an Ottoman “Genocide” of Armenians in spite of persistent lobbying efforts by numerous enemies of Turkey, even including some Greeks.

Rather than pandering to shrill special interest groups that wish to tarnish the modern Turkish Republic with wartime events that occurred under the prior, Ottoman monarchy to serve their own political (and, likely also economic) agendas, the best solution might well be the creation of a joint history commission that would include impartial scholars and historians from Switzerland, Turkey and Armenia, at minimum to review all available relevant archives and documents to resolve the matter without bias, once and for all…

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