Saturday, October 14, 2017

They Have no shame---Reps. Stivers, Cohen, and Sessions Seek to Derail Growing Bipartisan Support for H.Res.220

WASHINGTON—In a highly offensive political move aimed at derailing H.Res.220, a bipartisan genocide prevention measure drawing upon the lessons of the Armenian Genocide, three of the U.S. House’s remaining enemies of Armenian Genocide remembrance have introduced “fake” legislation on Turkish-Armenian relations, controversially stripped of any mention of the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
In a highly offensive political move aimed at derailing H.Res.220, a bipartisan genocide prevention measure drawing upon the lessons of the Armenian Genocide, three of the U.S. House’s remaining enemies of Armenian Genocide remembrance have introduced “fake” legislation on Turkish-Armenian relations, controversially stripped of any mention of the Armenian Genocide (Photo: ANCA)
“A sick and cynical ploy: historically inaccurate and morally offensive. All the world knows that any improvement in Armenian-Turkish relations will need to start with Ankara openly acknowledging the Armenian Genocide and accepting its modern-day responsibility for the vast moral and material consequences of this still unpunished crime,” said Aram Hamparian, executive director of the ANCA.
“Reps. Stivers, Cohen, and Sessions—in stripping out language about the Armenian Genocide from a bill about Turkish-Armenian relations—are, effectively, carrying Turkish President Erdogan’s water in Washington, advancing his shameful denial campaign even as he’s doubling down on his government’s anti-American actions and attitudes.”
H.Res.573 was introduced by Ohio Congressman Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) with the support of Congressional Turkey Caucus Co-Chairs Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) and Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.). Rep. Sessions spearheaded a similar resolution in the previous Congress, by all accounts at the urging of former Congressman Connie Mack, who, upon retiring, was retained by the Turkish Institute for Peace. That resolution secured a total of two cosponsors.

Friday, October 13, 2017

‘We Do Not Need You,’ Erdogan Warns US

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
ANKARA (Hurriyet Daily News) – Amid the ongoing visa and arrest crisis between Ankara and Washington, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday that if the United States does not accept Turkey the way it is “then we do not need you.”
Calling on Washington to “return to reason,” Erdoğan repeated his claim that it was U.S. Ambassador to Ankara John Bass who prompted the current crisis.
“We are not a tribal state. We are the state of the Republic of Turkey and you will accept it. If you don’t, then sorry but we do not need you,” Erdoğan said, addressing a meeting of provincial governors in the capital Ankara.
“The decision taken by the U.S. Consulate and the statements made after it are not related to the truth or reality. A junta within the American bureaucracy that is related to the previous administration aims to sabotage relations between the new administration and Turkey,” he added.
Ankara and Washington are going through their worst bilateral crisis in years after U.S. Istanbul Consulate official Metin Topuz was arrested last week, prompting the U.S. to announce on October 8 that it has stopped issuing non-immigrant visas in Turkey. In return, Ankara imposed tit-for-tat measures implementing the same measures.
Erdoğan’s comments came a day after Ambassador Bass stated that the decision for visa suspension was taken by the U.S. government, which also confirmed that the decision was taken in coordination with the State Department, the White House and the National Security Council.
“Our ambassadors tend not to do things unilaterally,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said on October 10.
Nevertheless, the Turkish president again claimed that it was Bass who prompted the current visa suspension crisis.
“Let me be very clear, the person who caused this is the ambassador here. It is unacceptable that the U.S. has sacrificed a strategic partner like Turkey to a presumptuous ambassador,” Erdoğan said.
“If an ambassador in Ankara is governing the great United States, it is a shame. They should have told him he could not act like that to a strategic ally. But they could not do that,” he added.
In the same speech Erdoğan once again criticized Washington’s hesitation to sell arms to Turkey, while instead providing arms to the “terrorist organization” for free.
He also said Ankara will stand behind its decision to mutually suspend visa services with Washington “if the U.S. secretary of state and the president defend the ambassador’s step.”
“Turkey has acted based on the principle of reciprocity, following unjust and non-proportional steps taken against our citizens with the suspension of visa applications. Turkey is never a party that extends a problem,” Erdoğan added.
“Our wish for our interlocutors to return to reason and calm, abandoning steps that would harm our friendship and alliance,” he said.
Erdoğan also stated that the detention process of the U.S. consulate officer Topuz “is ongoing within the constitutional framework.”
“The legal process on the individual working at the U.S. Istanbul mission as a local personnel, who is the citizen of our country and does not hold any diplomatic immunity, is ongoing within legal practices, agreements and the Vienna Convention,” he said.
President Erdoğan also referred to ongoing disputes between Ankara and Washington regarding the case of Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab, currently facing trial in the U.S. on charges of violating sanctions on Iran, in a case that has also embroiled former minister Zafer Çağlayan and state-run Halkbank deputy general manager Mehmet Hakan Atilla. Other points of contention are the imprisonment of Erdoğan’s personal security guards over their brawl with protesters in Washington in May 2017 and Ankara’s demand for the extradition of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who Ankara accuses of masterminding the July 2016 coup attempt.
“On one hand you say you are the mainland of democracy but on the other hand you defend, in your own terms, the rights of an individual related to FETÖ who has no diplomatic qualification in your consulate. Meanwhile, you try also to save your pastor who has been arrested in İzmir, even though it is clear he has relations with FETÖ,” he said, referring to Andrew Brunson, a Presbyterian minister from North Carolina who has been imprisoned for almost one year.
“On the one hand, you arrest the deputy manager of my bank who has not committed any crime, but on the other hand my citizen [Zarrab] has been in prison in the U.S. for two years without crime, trying to use him as a confessor. Then it was decided to order the detention of my 13 guards, some of whom have never even been to the U.S. Is this democracy? Is this justice?” Erdoğan added.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


‘The Universality of Translating Reparations for Mass Violence’ to Take Place Nov. 1 in Watertown

WATERTOWN, Mass. (A.W.)—The Armenian Weekly will present “The Universality of Translating Reparations for Mass Violence,” an evening with Dr. Henry C. Theriault and Alejandra Patricia Karamanian, on Nov. 1, at the Armenian American Social Club of Watertown.
It is through translation that works of a particular society and culture become universally accessible, and opportunities for the global movement of ideas and political outlooks become possible. When a work focuses on topics that have universal relevance, translation becomes an obligation to humanity. Yet, translation inevitably requires moving beyond what is originally given; that is, it requires interpretation by the translator. But translation is all the more a challenge when the translator is deeply committed to the human rights values underlying the work being translated.
The Armenian Weekly will present “The Universality of Translating Reparations for Mass Violence,” an evening with Dr. Henry C. Theriault and Alejandra Patricia Karamanian, on Nov. 1, at the Armenian American Social Club of Watertown
Dr. Henry Theriault, lead author of Resolution with Justice: Reparations for the Armenian Genocide, the Final Report of the Armenian Genocide Reparations Study Group, will have a conversation about such complexities with Alejandra Patricia Karamanian, the Argentina-based translator of the reparations report into Spanish.
“Armenians often boast about the great contributions made long ago, from archaeological finds regarding beer and shoes in the ancient world to architectural innovations and even David of Sasunbeing an inspiration for the King Arthur legends. We sometimes forget that perhaps our most important contribution has been and will be regarding what happens after mass violence victimization: How does a people survive and even come to thrive rather than fade out after a genocide weakens it so greatly?” Theriault said ahead of the Nov. 1 event.
“We have important contributions to make regarding the reparative process, but for those contributions to have any meaning for other groups looking for new ideas, they have to be accessible to those groups. Like it or not, Armenian is not a widely known language, and we depend on English, Russian, French, Arabic, and, notably, Spanish to communicate our ideas with the rest of the world. In our globalized society, multilingual reach is crucial. Fortunately, we have a vibrant global diaspora with native speakers in many of the major world languages of the 21st century, including the fast-growing one of Spanish,” Theriault added.
The evening, which is free and open to the public, will be the first of many similar events hosted by the Armenian Weekly in the future. “We are excited to host Dr. Theriault and Ms. Karamanian next month, in what promises to be a fruitful discussion about not only the need for reparations for the Armenian Genocide but also the significance of translating literature about reparations so that it may reach a wider audience,” said Armenian Weekly Editor Rupen Janbazian. “We hope that members of the community will join us to gain a new perspective on this pertinent issue.”
“The Universality of Translating Reparations for Mass Violence” will take place at the Armenian American Social Club of Watertown (76 Bigelow Ave. Watertown, Mass. 02472) on Nov. 1, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

Friday, October 6, 2017

How Turkey Destroyed or Disposed Its Historical Archives and Documents

For several decades, the Turkish government and its propagandists have been announcing that the state documents, particularly the Ottoman archives, are fully open and available to any researcher from around the world.
What Turkish officials and their supporters do not say is that many documents of the Ottoman archives have been removed, destroyed, sold or disposed of. In addition, some of the most sensitive archives are still closed to outsiders.
Last month, Turkish journalist Uzay Bulut posted a revealing article, “Turkey Uncensored: A History of Censorship and Bans” on the website regarding the status of Turkish archives and documents going back to several centuries. Ms. Bulut is free to expose such secrets because she no longer lives in Turkey. She is currently based in Washington, D.C.
In Turkey today, Wikipedia’s website is blocked by governmental order because Wikipedia refused to delete articles revealing that the Turkish authorities are supporting the Islamic State terrorists. Furthermore, 127,000 websites and 95,000 individual Web pages are blocked by Turkey, according to journalist Bulut.
This modern-day banning of thousands of websites is the continuation of Ottoman Sultan Bayazid II’s decree of 1485 A.D. imposing the death penalty on anyone printing books in Turkish or Arabic. The ban remained for more than two centuries, Bulut reported. “That prohibition is widely cited by historians as one of the major reasons for the intellectual and scientific collapse of Islam at the dawn of the industrial revolution.”
The Turkish Republic, during the rule of its founder Kemal Ataturk as of 1923, continued the tradition of censorship by banning “at least 130 newspapers, magazines and books, according to Mustafa Yilmaz and Yasmin Doganer’s book, ‘Censor During the Republican era (1923-1973).’” Turkey’s second Prime Minister (1950-1960), Adnan Menderes, banned 161 publications, according to Bulut.
Returning to archival censorship, Bulut quoted Turkish-Jewish historian Rifat Bali who “explained the history of disposed or destroyed state archives in his 2014 book, ‘The Story of Destruction of Plundering: Printed or Written words, Dead Letters, Archives Thrown Out (or Sold) for Scrap.’ …The archives of many political parties, the Senate, and several other governmental or non-governmental institutions in Turkey are either closed to public use or no longer exist.” According to Bali, “the archives of the political parties closed down during the September 12, 1980 coup d’état were sent to SEKA (Cellulose and Paper Factories) as scrap paper.”
The Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) archive is the most important one because it is the party of the founding years of the Republic. As Bali wrote: “Some say it [the archive] was burnt. Some say it was thrown away on September 12. Some say, no it hasn’t been thrown away. It is here. So it is a mystery today. A large part of the archive is nonexistent.”
In addition, Bali reported that “the archives of the presidency, the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and the Ministry of the Interior are closed.” Interestingly, Bali noted the strange story of how “confidential documents of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were found at a scrap dealer in Ankara in 1998. For the ministry had sold 15 steel safes to a scrap dealer. It was then understood that the ministry sold the safes because of a lack of space at the ministry without even looking what was inside them.”
Bali also reported in his book several other examples of the destruction of important documents:
— “Many of the Turkish Institute of History’s documents – including a letter by Ataturk – have been thrown away;”
— “All minutes of the proceedings of the Senate that was established with the 1961 constitution and remained active until the September 12, 1980 coup d’état were sent to the Cellulose and Paper Factories (SEKA);”
— “When the state-funded Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) moved to a new building in 1965, its authorities said that ‘old documents do not fit a new building’ and sent some of the documents of the archives to SEKA;”
— “When a shortage of paper emerged at SEKA in 1980s, state institutions were called on to send their old papers to the factory. Many archives at institutional level were thus gone;”
— As recently as 2013, Turkish National Library’s old books in Greek, Hebrew, and Syriac were sold by the ton, “as there were no librarians who could read in those languages.”
As an investigative Journaist Uzay Bulut concluded: “with so much information withheld from the Turkish public, state propaganda has created masses who blindly follow whatever state authorities − who have lost their moral compass and never object or speak out even when they see brutal violations of human rights, who do not respect differing opinions or the right to dissent, and who promote an extremely inaccurate version of history – have to say.”
The next time Turkish government propagandists write “our archives are open,” you can send them a copy of this article, the revelations of which from distinguished Turkish journalist Uzay Bulut will shut them up!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Aliyev Lies before the Whole World at UN General Assembly--WHO IS SURPRISED ?--NOT ME

There were plenty of Azeri commentators and officials who criticized Armenian President Serge Sarkisian’s speech at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly last week, but I did not come across any Armenian commentators or government leaders who attacked Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s ugly speech on Sept. 20.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev addressing the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly (Photo: UN)
The Azeri President’s lengthy remarks were full of lies and distortions. Let’s try to set the record straight on some of them…
The first line of Aliyev’s speech starts with a usual exaggeration and untruth, stating that “Armenia occupies 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory of Nagorno-Karabagh and seven other regions of the country.” The truth is that Armenia does not occupy any Azeri territory. Nagorno-Karabagh (Artsakh) was never a part of independent Azerbaijan. It was an autonomous Armenian-inhabited region gifted to Azerbaijan by Soviet dictator Stalin in 1923. The Armenian population of Artsakh finally liberated themselves after decades of brutal Azeri occupation. Furthermore, the Azeri claim that Armenia occupies 20 percent of Azerbaijan is false, as the region liberated by Armenians is around 15 percent, not 20.
President Aliyev then proceeds to state: “Nagorno-Karabagh is an ancient and historical part of Azerbaijan.” This is a complete lie as Azerbaijan did not exist historically as a state. It was created in 1918 with the help of the Turkish army.
Aliyev’s next big lie is that there are one million Azeri “refugees and internally displaced persons” as a result of Armenian military action. First of all, it is not one million, but several hundred thousand, just like there were several hundred thousand Armenian refugees as a result of Azeri pogroms and ethnic cleansing. If there were a large number of Azeri refugees 25 years later still living in muddy camps, this is the fault only of the Azeri government, which earns billions of petrodollars annually and does not spend any of these funds to resettle these refugees in comfortable homes. Furthermore, as we have seen in recent European publications, Azeri leaders, particularly the Aliyev family and its cronies, have stolen billions of dollars from the state oil revenues to pay for their lavish life-styles or bribe officials around the world to cover up their persistent violations of human rights. Yet, the President of Azerbaijan is not ashamed to proclaim that his country has “absolute transparency, zero tolerance to corruption and bribery.”
Aliyev then repeats the biggest lie about the so-called “Khojaly genocide” of 600 Azerbaijanis by Armenian troops during the Artsakh war. There are various versions of what exactly took place in Khojaly during that conflict, including Azeri soldiers blocking the escape routes of their own population who were then trapped and became war casualties. But even if there were a shred of evidence that 600 Azeris died during that conflict, which would be unfortunate, Azerbaijan shamelessly denies the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians by Turkey starting in 1915, and yet has no qualms of perpetuating the lie that the deaths of 600 Azeris were a genocide.
President Aliyev continues his series of lies, claiming that Armenia was the one that attacked Azerbaijan in April 2016. The whole world knows that Azerbaijan was the initiator of that attack. Exposing his own lie, he warns that Azerbaijan will attack again.
Aliyev then boasts that Azerbaijan in 2011 was elected as a nonpermanent member of the U.N. Security Council with 155 countries voting in favor. What President Aliyev neglects to mention is that most of these votes were secured by lavish gifts to UN Ambassadors, as we had exposed in my weekly column in 2011.
The President of Azerbaijan shamelessly proclaims from the UN podium that the “development of democracy and human rights protection are among the top priorities of our government. All fundamental freedoms are fully provided in Azerbaijan, including freedom of expression, media freedom, freedom of assembly, religious freedom.” Everyone knows that Azerbaijan is a dictatorship with corrupt leaders, and that its jails are full of human rights activists and independent journalists.
Aliyev then goes on to announce that “representatives of all ethnic groups and religions live in Azerbaijan in peace and harmony.” Besides Armenians, who were victims of ethnic cleansing and are potential victims of a new Azeri-perpetrated genocide in Artsakh, there are many other minorities in the country who are routinely discriminated against and jailed. Calling Azerbaijan a democracy and “one of the world’s most recognized centers of multiculturalism,” is an outrageous statement!
The string of lies, distortions, and exaggerations is so long in President Aliyev’s UN speech that one needs to write an entire book to expose all of his falsehoods.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Turkey’s Genocide Denial: Four Narratives

Special to the Armenian Weekly
Turkey still denies the Armenian Genocide, during which 1.5 million Armenians perished. The Turkish state does not have just one policy or rhetoric concerning it. One could argue that there are four main narratives in Turkey concerning the genocide.
Turkey still denies the Armenian Genocide, during which 1.5 million Armenians perished. The Turkish state does not have just one policy or rhetoric concerning it…
Narrative One: We Did Not Slaughter Armenians; Armenians Slaughtered Us
Accusing Armenians of being mass murderers and the actual perpetrators of genocide is a popular myth in Turkey.
Last year, a public stage play that depicted “the liberation of Aşkale [in Erzurum] from invasion” not only turned the historical facts regarding the genocide upside down but also converted them into hate-filled propaganda against the Armenians.
The play opened with the “immigration of Turks fleeing from Armenians.” In it, the Armenians begin drinking wine and eating chicken at a table set in the middle of a ceremony area. Upon the call of their commander, they start slaughtering Turks. They then burn down a mosque (a model made of cardboard), catch the imam as he is reciting the Azan (the Islamic call to prayer), and attack him in the city center. They force him to enter the mosque and then burn him alive. Afterward, they attack a Turkish family, murdering the housewife and her father-in-law in cold blood.
The play ended with Turkish high school students, playing the role of the Turkish militia, entering the town and killing the Armenian “gangs.”
Many state and government authorities, including the mayor, district governor, chief prosecutor, and garrison commander of the town, as well as many students and local people, attended the play.
An actor said that he has been playing the role of Ohannes, the Armenian battalion commander in the play, for about 30 years. So, such plays and speeches about the genocide have become “traditional performances” in Turkey.
Moreover, this narrative is what is now taught to Turkish schoolchildren in middle and high schools.
Professor Taner Akçam wrote a comprehensive article for the Armenian Weekly about how the 1915 genocide is depicted in Turkish history textbooks used during the 2014 and 2015 school years. Those books are either prepared by the Ministry of National Education or approved by the Ministry’s Instruction and Education Board.
“The textbooks characterize Armenians as people who are incited by foreigners, who aim to break apart the state and the country and who murdered Turks and Muslims,” Akçam wrote. “The Armenian Genocide, referred to as the ‘Armenian matter’ in textbooks, is described as a lie perpetrated in order to meet these goals and is defined as the biggest threat to Turkish national security. Another threat to national security is missionaries and their activities.”
But Turkey’s rhetoric concerning genocide is not limited to that narrative.

Narrative Two: Yes, We Did Slaughter Armenians. If They Do Not Behave, We Will Slaughter Them Again
This narrative is similar to the first one but takes it to a new and even more shameless level: to something to be proud of, and additional threats against the Armenian victims and other minorities. This sentiment is also openly and frequently expressed across Turkey.
For example, during the performance in Aşkale last year, Enver Başaran, the then mayor of the town, said, in part:
“The Armenians, who had been our ancestors’ neighbors for many years, formed gangs and carried out massacres in our lands with the encouragement and armed support of the Soviet Union following the Russian invasion.
“In your presence, I remember once again with mercy and gratitude our glorious ancestors who extirpated the Armenians, whose history is filled with blood and treason, from these lands.
“The hostility and hatred of those Armenian gangs that are a network of treason has never ended for these lands and for the noble Turkish nation. Those Armenian gangs that do not know any history, rules, or the law now carry out separatist activities in our lands through the terrorist organization PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party].
So this narrative proudly accepts that Turks slaughtered Armenians, but they have an excuse: “Yes, we did exterminate Armenians. But ask us why. Because they misbehaved and became traitors. And, if required, we will do it all over again. One cannot get even an inch of territory from Turkey.”
“We will do it all over again,” in fact, seems to indirectly target Kurds, declaring to Kurds that if they don’t behave well and accept Turkish superiority, Turks will exterminate them, too.
It is actually a common belief in Turkey that PKK members are not Kurdish but are, rather, Armenian. Turkish media often refers to the PKK and the pro-Kurdish HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) members as “Armenians” or “Christians.” Last year, for example, Turkish newspapers claimed that a PKK member killed in the city of Van was found to be wearing a cross necklace—something totally unacceptable according to Turkish-Islamic standards.
Accusing PKK members of being Christian or “uncircumcised” is widespread in the military and among government authorities, as well.
For example, after a group of Turkish soldiers and PKK members were killed in battle on September 8 of 2015, the principal consultant of President Tayip Erdogan and former Chairman of the Constitutional Commission of Turkey’s Parliament Burhan Kuzu wrote on his Twitter account: “So far, thousands of terrorists have been bumped off. This will continue. The corpses of the dead terrorists should definitely have autopsies. Many of them will be found to be uncircumcised. Wake up, my Kurdish brother, wake up now!”
This narrative aims at legitimizing the killings of PKK members or other Kurds because being uncircumcised implies being Christian or non-Muslim. And according to fanatic Muslims, it is “halal” (a good deed) to kill non-Muslims.
Linking the PKK with the Armenian identity is commonly stated by the ultranationalist segments of Turkish politics, such as the MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) and the BDP (Great Unity Party).
In 1996, for example, in Turkey’s parliament, the interior minister at the time, Meral Akşener, who is a former MP from the MHP, said the jailed leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, was of “Armenian semen [seed].” She then clarified the remark by saying, “I did not refer to the Armenians living in Turkey. I referred to the Armenian race in general.”
“Armenian seed” is one of the most popular epithets in Turkey, often used for Kurds, as well. Kurds, or Kurds who request national rights, are “accused” of being Armenian. Many people in Turkey, including military personnel, openly refer to Kurds or Kurdish activists as “Armenians,” “dirty Armenians,” “Armenian bastards,” “Armenian sperm,” or “Armenian semen/seed.” Different versions of these epithets are also used to refer to Greeks and Jews.
Since August of last year, military curfews have been imposed on the predominantly Kurdish southeastern towns. When Turkish security forces destroyed the town of Cizre in September, 2015, they announced on a loudspeaker to the local Kurdish population: “Armenians are proud of you; you are all Armenians. You are Armenian bastards.”
The Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD) also reported that the police announced to the Kurds of Cizre that they were “Armenian sperm.” Arın Gül Yeniaras, a lawyer who visited Cizre after those operations, wrote that “Everyone was talking about the announcements of the police forces from armored vehicles: “We will cleanse you all in two hours, Armenian bastards! Come on! Let’s play house, Armenian bastards!”
None of the police officers or soldiers responsible for these announcements has been brought to account, apparently because they acted in accordance with the official line of the Turkish regime.
It is not only Armenians who are publicly degraded with such vicious statements in Turkey. All non-Muslims, particularly Greeks and Jews, are also targeted publicly by politicians or military figures.
For example, after the Islamic memorial service at a mosque in Istanbul to commemorate the death of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who was the founder of modern Turkey and the CHP (Republican People’s Party) in 2013, Muharrem İnce, its deputy president, said: “If there had been no Ataturk…your names would not be Ahmet, Hasan, Hüseyin today. Your names would be Dimitri or Yorgo. They need to know these things right.”
Sadly, no one within his party’s grassroots opposed or challenged him. This demonstrates two realities:
  1. Dehumanizing and insulting Greeks is a norm in Turkey.
  2. There seems to be almost no culture of intellectual dissent about certain issues within the CHP or any other mainstream party in Turkey. And this could partly stem from Turkish politicians’ constantly terrorizing dissidents in the country. In Turkey, even if you feel disturbed by statements degrading or threatening Greeks or other non-Muslims, you are to keep quiet, because you have been taught that if you speak up, you could be labeled as treacherous and accused of having “kafir” (infidel) roots.
And if anyone is declared to be “Armenian sperm” or “Greek sperm” or “Jewish sperm,” those people could be physically attacked or even murdered.
Turkish authorities have also proudly named several places such as schools, neighborhoods, streets, and boulevards after the very people who planned or were directly involved in the Armenian Genocide—an open message to not only Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks but also to Kurds and other dissidents: “This is the possible end awaiting you if you don’t obey us.”

Narrative Three: A Tragedy Happened During World War I. Armenians Slaughtered Us, and We Slaughtered Them. It Was Civil War. Let’s Forget About It…
This is the narrative Turkey uses for international observers. On April 24, 2015, for example, a message was sent by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the religious ceremony held in the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul on the 100th anniversary of the genocide. It said, in part:
“In World War I, which ranks among humanity’s major catastrophes, millions from all nations also perished within the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire.
“I commemorate with compassion and respect all the Ottoman citizens, regardless of their ethnic and religious identity, who lost their lives under similar conditions during this war.”
In essence, what this message declares is this: “What happened in 1915 was never genocide. People kill each other in all wars. But we are such noble people we still remember all of the dead with love, so let’s forget about it and move on already.”
But, at the same time, Turkey teaches its children that Armenians were the perpetrators of genocide. Racist attacks against the bilingual Armenian weekly newspaper Agos, as well as against Armenian schools, are still widespread in Turkey. Also, Armenians are exposed to hate speech more than any other group, according to a periodic report on hate speech in the Turkish media, released by the Hrant Dink Foundation this year.
So, this third narrative, which is more “moderate” compared with the first and second ones, is just for show, intended for the outside world and particularly for the West: “Look, Turkey is changing for the better and taking steps to face its history. And this proves that we are a worthwhile NATO member an EU candidate.”

Narrative 4: Yes, Turkey Committed Genocide
This rhetoric is never directly stated by the Turkish government, but it is, at times, tolerated when presented by some intellectuals in the country.
Since 2010, rights activists in Turkey led by the Human Rights Association (IHD) have commemorated the 1915 genocide in cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, and Diyarbakir. The government has not prevented the commemoration events, nor has it arrested the organizers. For the government seems to use these events as a public relations stunt for the world. International media do cover these events, so it is easy marketing for Turkish “democracy.”
Particularly during the “policy of zero problems with neighbors” instituted by then-foreign minister and later prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (from 2009 to 2016), intellectuals who told the truth about the genocide were somewhat more tolerated by the government. Not because it also recognized the truth or wanted to encourage the Turkish public to learn more about the genocide, but because it wanted to look more democratic to the West.

An Overview of the Issue
Thus, Turkish state authorities use these four policies or narratives concerning the GSenocide based on the needs and interests of the country at different times.
They sometimes tolerate those who tell the truth if that tolerance might result in Western support for Turkey. But, at the same time, they arrest some of those who tell the truth about the Genocide. Mukaddes Alataş, a Kurdish human rights activist from Diyarbakir, for example, was recently arrested for “being a member of a terror organization.” Among the “evidence” used against her were her social media posts about the Armenian Genocide. She is still in jail.
Human rights activists in Turkey are thus taking immense risks by organizing or speaking out. At any time they could also be attacked, or even killed, by nationalists Turks hostile to Armenians. Hrant Dink, the editor-in-chief of Agos, was murdered in 2007 in front of the office of his newspaper in Istanbul. He had received numerous death threats from Turkish nationalists and was prosecuted three times for “denigrating Turkishness” in his writings and remarks about the Armenian Genocide.
Hence, there are strict limits to the tolerance of the Turkish government. And every now and then, the government sends a message to those who recognize the genocide: “Know your limits.”
In May, 2005, for example, Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University attempted to organize a conference about the Genocide. Scholars who say that what happened in 1915 was genocide were also invited. But the conference was canceled after then justice minister Cemil Çiçek accused those associated with the conference of “treason” and “stabbing Turkey in the back.”
Some 102 years have passed, but the denial of or even pride in the genocide is still the dominant ideology in Turkey, and it has largely escaped public scrutiny or critique. Why?
The government’s brainwashing of the people has created generations that blindly deny the Armenian Genocide. Turks, through various means, such as the educational system and the media, have been indoctrinated with the lie that there is no genocide or shame or guilt in their history.
But in an age of technology, where there is limitless access to all kinds of sources on the Internet, why is denial of genocide still so popular in Turkey?
This is largely due to the Islamic indoctrination of the Turkish masses. Sadly, traditional Islamic doctrine does not value non-Muslim lives as much as Muslime lives. Fourteen centuries of Islamic history demonstrate that there has never been legal or social equality of Muslims and non-Muslims in majority-Muslim societies. When religious or national dehumanization of non-Muslims, which, in Turkey’s case, includes Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Jews, Yazidis, and others, is reinforced by the government, the denial of genocide or massacres against them turns into a social pathology that is very difficult, if not impossible, to overcome.
Today, only 0.2 percent of Turkey’s population is Christian or Jewish. There are only around 2,000 Greeks, 20,000 Assyrians (Syriacs and Chaldeans), 60,000 Armenians, 350 Yazidis, and 15,000 Jews left in Turkey, a country with a total population of about 80 million.
The decline of the non-Muslim population has not been due to natural causes. The religious minorities in Turkey have for decades been decimated through methods such as murders, pogroms, forced expulsions, forced displacements, harassment, and various social and economic pressures that finally forced them to leave Turkey.
And one of the most important factors that normalizes, legitimizes, and makes murders and crimes against non-Muslims “morally acceptable” in Islamic societies is the tradition of jihad or Islamic identity. It was during the first campaign of expansion of Islamic armies in the seventh century that jihadists arrived in and invaded Asia Minor, which was then a majority-Christian area with sizable Jewish and Yazidi communities. During that period, several nations across continents, such as the Persian empire, the Byzantine empire, and northern Africa were invaded and occupied, making the Islamic world expand far beyond the borders of the Arabian Peninsula. And throughout centuries, jihadists have spread their faith by the sword, as sanctioned by Islamic scriptures. Today, the last Christian and Yazidi genocides are being committed by ISIS (Islamic State) in Syria and Iraq.
During Islamic invasions and later during Sharia rule, Christians and Jews were either murdered or become “dhimmis”: third-class, barely “tolerated” people in their dispossessed land who must pay a tax (the jizya) in exchange for so-called “protection.”
Historian Bat Ye’or places the continuum of Armenian massacres in Ottoman Turkey in an overall theological and juridical context, as follows:
“The genocide of the Armenians was the natural outcome of a policy inherent in the politically religious structure of Dhimmitude. This process of physically eliminating a rebel nation had already been used against the rebel Slav and Greek Christians, rescued from collective extermination by European intervention, although sometimes reluctantly.
“The genocide of the Armenians was a jihad. No Rayas (non-Muslim Dhimmis) took part in it. Despite the disapproval of many Muslim Turks and Arabs, and their refusal to collaborate in the crime, these massacres were perpetrated solely by Muslims and they alone profited from the booty: the victims’ property, houses, and lands granted to the Muhajirun (holy warrior jihadists), and the allocation to them of women and child slaves. The elimination of male children over the age of twelve was in accordance with the commandments of the jihad and conformed to the age fixed for the payment of the Jizya. The four stages of the liquidation, deportation, enslavement, forced conversion and massacre, reproduced the historic conditions of the jihad carried out in the Dar Al Harb from the seventh century on. Chronicles from a variety of sources, by Muslim authors in particular, give detailed descriptions of the organized massacres or deportation of captives, whose sufferings in forced marches behind the armies paralleled the Armenian experience in the twentieth century.”
Dr. Yektan Türkyılmaz, an expert of Turkish and Ottoman history, recently wrote a highly informative article concerning the wider background and historical process of the Armenian Genocide, detailing the massacres and persecutions not only of Armenians but also of Syriacs, Chaldeans, and Yazidis in Turkey and the rest of the region.
He wrote, in part: “It is without doubt that the annihilationist consensus between the central government in Istanbul, the military commanders, governors, low-level and middle-level officials, many Kurdish tribes, and Circassian militia etc. was built on Islamic identity…. The emphasis here is that a certain narrative was functional in ‘legitimizing’ massacres, destruction and pillaging and making them ‘conscientiously doable.”
Türkyılmaz added that “the Armenian Genocide was the most important turning point of the Muslimization of the Middle East.”
Apart from Islam’s doctrinal dehumanization of non-Muslims, there is also the role of shame versus honor in Islamic societies. In countries such as Turkey, there is nothing worse than shame because it taints one’s family, tribe, and country. That encourages people to either deny the Genocide and other crimes that their ancestors have committed or accuse the accuser of the same thing or even worse. Western societies, however, are guilt-driven. They admit guilt and move on. Muslim societies are largely honor-driven. They almost never admit guilt and don’t move on.
The Turkish Republic, established in 1923, still has not officially recognized, has not apologized for, or made reparations for any of the crimes or wrongdoings at any time in its history.
And never once in their history have Turkish people taken to the streets en masse in protest as the non-Muslim citizens of the country were (and still are) exposed to persecution such as pogroms, massacres, or confiscations of their properties. The Turkish state has carried out its annihilationist policies either with the active participation or the silent approval of the vast majority of the public.
But what is even more striking is that in Turkey there is not one form of denial of the genocide, but several. And all of them have one thing in common: a complete lack of humanity by the perpetrators, past and present.
So, what is to be done? Scholar Andrew G. Bostom, who has written extensively about the Armenian Genocide and history of jihad, wrote in 2015: “The historical record of the jihad genocide of the Armenians a century ago, through the present day jihadist atrocities against Christian communities in the Middle East, and beyond, demonstrates that ancient Islamic jihad war theory continues to be acted upon by Muslims, regularly, across the globe, till now. What remains is for the Muslim intelligentsia to acknowledge, and then eliminate this practice.”
Dr. Bostom also notes that for Muslims to re-examine and criticize their history, the U.S. should lead the way, officially recognize the Genocide, and demand the perpetrators do the same: “A quarter century later, it is now readily apparent such a long overdue, mea culpa-based Muslim self-examination will never begin if the non-Muslim, especially Christian, targets of jihad genocide, remain in their own abject state of jihad denial. U.S. politicians could help facilitate that Muslim re-evaluation process by not only demanding recognition of the Armenian Genocide, but further identifying those mass killings as a jihad genocide, specifically.”

Friday, September 15, 2017

The 95th Anniversary of the Destruction of Greeks and Armenians in Smyrna/Izmir: An Interview with Tehmine Martoyan

Special to the Armenian Weekly

Tehmine Martoyan is lecturer at the University of Economy and Law (Yerevan, Armenia). She is also the president of Lazaryan Institute scientific and educational NGO.
Sept. 13, 2017 marks the 95th anniversary of the start of the Great Fire of Smyrna
Martoyan is the author of books and articles on the Armenians in Safavid Iran, and she has participated in international conferences and meetings in Armenia and abroad. She also translated into Armenian the book by Theofanis Malkidis titled The Greek Genocide: Thrace, Asia Minor, Pontus.
She has made two films dedicated to the Greek and Armenian populations in Smyrna. Her forthcoming book is titled Psychological and Political Causes of Annihilation of the Armenians and the Greeks in Smyrna.
Tehmine Martoyan
This interview was conducted by email during early Sept. 2017.
George Shirinian: You contributed the chapter in Genocide in the Ottoman Empire: Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks, 1913-1923, titled “The Destruction of Smyrna in 1922: An Armenian and Greek Shared Tragedy.” Amid all the chaos and destruction at that time, why is the fate of this one city noteworthy today?
The start of the fire, seen from Bella Vista, photographed Sept. 13, 1922
Tehmine Martoyan: First of all, I would like to express gratitude for the opportunity to commemorate with the readers of this journal the 95th anniversary of the destruction of Smyrna, which began on Sept. 13, 1922. Smyrna was a major international commercial center, and it was also known as a tolerant and cultured place, where Christians, Jews, and Muslims had lived together in harmony and prosperity, before the advent of extreme Turkish nationalism.
The Allied Powers suspected Ataturk was going to take reprisals on the city for the conduct of the Greek army during the Greco-Turkish war, and warned him against doing so, but he ignored their warning and got away with it. It was an unnecessary act of wanton destruction that affected only the Christian sections of the city. What happened is very well documented, by eyewitness accounts, photographs, and even video.
The headline of The New York Times report of the fire on Sept. 17, 1922
The extermination of the Armenian and Greek people of Smyrna and the destruction of the Christian districts of the city made a great impression on contemporaries and continues to attract the attention of researchers today. Entire books are still being written about it.

G.S.: Explain briefly what happened.
T.M.: One author has described the event this way: “What happened over the two weeks that followed must surely rank as one of the most compelling human dramas of the twentieth century. Innocent civilians—men, women, and children from scores of different nationalities—were caught up in a humanitarian disaster on a scale that the world had never before seen.” The Armenians and the Greeks of Smyrna were systematically robbed, murdered, and abducted.
Buildings on fire and people trying to escape
According to the account of Edward Bierstadt—secretary for Near East Relief at the time—around 100,000 people fell victim to the slaughter, and 160,000 were driven away to the farthest parts of Turkey. More than 50,000 houses, 24 churches, and 28 schools, banks, consulates, and hospitals were burned. Turkish soldiers deliberately led the fire down the Greek and European sections of Smyrna by soaking the streets with petroleum or other highly flammable matter.
Panoramic view of the fire of Smyrna
The people were massed along the quay, and with the fire and intense heat behind them; they had nowhere to go but jump into the Mediterranean. There were ships from several countries just outside the harbor, but most had orders not to intervene. Greek ships took refugees to the island of Mytilene and elsewhere, and a Japanese ship was noteworthy for joining the effort from the start, rescuing survivors from the sea.
Overcrowded boats with refugees fleeing the fire; the photo was taken from the launch boat of a U.S. warship
The American navy helped only when the courageous Asa Jennings, a devout minister from upstate New York who had only recently arrived to take up duties as secretary to the local YMCA, rowed out to them and personally demanded that they rescue survivors. He was assisted by an equally courageous and strong-willed naval officer, Lt. Commander Halsey Powell. Together, they helped rescue almost a million refugees.
So, beyond the story of the destruction of the city and its non-Muslim population, there is the story of courageous rescuers who defied orders not to intervene.

G.S.: Why did Ataturk destroy this jewel of a city?
T.M.: To a certain extent it was to punish the Greeks for the Greco-Turkish War, even though the Smyrniotes were Ottoman citizens. But Smyrna was also a symbol of Christian prosperity, a major center of European trade, and an example peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims—all things the new Turkish nationalist movement was vehemently against. Ataturk even declared that neither American colleges nor any Christian institutions would operate in Smyrna in future. He wanted to build a new “Turkey for the Turks” out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire.
A view from the city after the fire, on Sept. 15, 1922

G.S.: Is there any parallel in history for such a destruction of a single city?
T.M.: The massacre in the Chinese city of Nanking (Nanjing) by the Japanese in 1937-38 comes to mind. It is interesting to note that the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia ruled that the murder of some 8,000 Muslim Bosnians in Srebrenica in 1995 was “genocidal.” One could say the same for the murder of 100,000 Armenians and Greeks of Smyrna.
Greek refugees mourning victims of the Smyrna massacres
G.S.: You mentioned that this history is particularly well documented. Are new sources still coming to light?
It is true that this history is particularly well documented, and there are new sources still coming to light. I am now researching the entire press of the period at the National Archives of Armenia and Fundamental library of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia. I can also add that I had the opportunity to incorporate in my chapter a previously unpublished letter of the American eyewitness, Bertha Morley, from the Zoryan Institute archives.
Greek victims of the Smyrna massacres

G.S.: You have done extensive work on the Greek Genocide. Why do you, as an Armenian historian, devote so much attention to the Greek experience?
Desecrated graves at the Greek cemetery of Saint John
T.M.: Historical-cultural ties between the Armenians and the Greeks from ancient times are evident in their religion, culture, traditions, lifestyle, legends, etc. These two nations have always had strong ties, both emotionally and historically, due to religious and cultural roots.
Studying the experiences of these two peoples in parallel, I use content analysis as a research method to show how both the Armenians and the Greeks suffered from genocide that was planned and committed by the same state. As the subtitle of my chapter states, unfortunately the Armenians and Greeks have a shared tragedy.