Monday, December 29, 2014

A Journey Through Hate and Possibility in Turkey, Armenia, and Beyond

  • Writer Meline Toumani grew up in a tight-knit Armenian community in New Jersey. There, identity centered on commemorating the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I, a history that's resulted in tense relations between Armenians and Turks to this day.
    In her new book, There Was and There Was Not, Toumani recounts her attempts to understand Turkey and the Turkish people — people she was always taught were her bitter enemy. She also explores what she calls the Armenian community's "obsession" with genocide recognition, which she herself harbored.
    "There would be moments where I felt almost embarrassed by a certain deep-seated prejudice in me," Toumani tells NPR's Eric Westervelt. "For example, if a friend comes back from vacation in Turkey and they're talking about it and I'm kind of bristling or brooding and just waiting for that to be over because I know that I can't say what I feel — which is, you know, 'I would never go to Turkey. The Turks, you know, killed the Armenians in 1915.' "

    Interview Highlights

    There Was and There Was Not
    A Journey Through Hate and Possibility in Turkey, Armenia, and Beyond
    Hardcover, 286 pages purchase
    On why she decided to move to Turkey, a sort of forbidden place for Armenians
    I'd have these feelings rise up in me and they didn't fit anymore in the life that I had created, which was otherwise very progressive and intellectually oriented. And that was when I decided I kind of need to explore this. And through a series of events, it entered my mind that exploring it would mean going to Turkey, talking to Turks; not to try to take seriously the Turkish version of the history of the genocide, but just to understand how does it happen that another group of people have learned this history in a completely different way leading to a completely different conclusion? And is there any way that we can connect if I find the right way to talk about it, or the right way to listen about it?
    On being attacked on Armenian-American news sites for taking on this project
    It's actually surprisingly painful given that I've just written a book that describes the kinds of attitudes that lead to that kind of criticism. ... I knew that there would be people who would feel that way, and yet part of what my book is about is this incredible tension between belonging to a community and trying to individuate from it.
    And it's sad for me to see that some people are so threatened that they're not even willing to engage, because most of the people publishing those attacks haven't read the book. In fact, one of them celebrates the fact that he hasn't read it and in the same breath calls for a boycott.
    On how people in Turkey reacted when they learned she was Armenian
    I was perhaps recklessly optimistic in thinking that things wouldn't be quite as bad in Turkey regarding the Armenian issue as I had been taught to believe. ... In some ways, they were even worse. The thing that shocked me the most was the fact that on a daily basis — [and] this is over the course of 2 1/2 years of living there — people would find out that I was Armenian and sometimes the reaction would be so blunt: "Well, I guess you came here to prove that there was a genocide. I want you to know that I don't believe that that's what happened." Or something like that. And those moments were really jarring and made it very difficult for me to ever really relax. There was a lot of stress in my daily life.
    And I want to be clear, of course, that I also had the opposite reactions, you know. There was a young man who I met outside of a restaurant with some friends, just totally at random on a Saturday night, and when he found out I was Armenian he put his hand over his heart and he said, "I want to welcome you back to your country and I want to apologize on behalf of the Turkish nation."
    So I would have every manner of reaction, but to be honest, most of the reactions ranged from pretending I hadn't said anything at all to saying something sort of blunt and harsh.
    On where relations between Turks and Armenians stand today
    It was a few years ago already that I left Turkey. And in the time since then, there have been some big changes. For example, on April 24, 2014 — which was the 99th-year commemoration of the Armenian genocide — in Istanbul you had several events commemorating the genocide openly and without any kind of the contorted language that you might have had in the past.
    Also [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan made a statement that was very much falling short but at the same time really breaking new ground in acknowledging that something tragic had happened to the Armenians. And although he ... was very careful not to call it a genocide and to say everyone suffered and to use a lot of the same rhetoric that he has always used, I consider it a major step
    Turkey's genocide of the Armenians is one of the least publicly mentioned atrocities in recent history. What is not generally known is when Mussolini, Stalin, and Hitler saw how the League of Nations and the world did not condemn Turkey or enact sanctions, basically shrugging their collective shoulders in apathy, they were embolden to go ahead as do the same, with Italy brutally attacking Ethiopia, Stalin starving Ukrainians by the millions for their rebelling against his agricultural collectivism, and Hitler his rounding up and persecuting the Jews and other political undesirables.
    Yet Turkey has never issued any responsibility or apology for this dark deed, And here we are, the US, wooing and humoring them just so we can maintain an air-base to protect our freedom and "National Interests" abroad. Ironic how we hold hands with them, the UAE, and formerly with the likes of Saddam and Noriega, while decrying international tyranny and terrorism, isn't it?
      Has the US apologized for the genocide of a million Philippinos which also occurred a little over a century ago? Why the coverage for one atrocity and not the other?
      It’d be nice to see a break from your pattern of mini essays that proceeds from actual historical facts. Alas, your comment falls in to your usual pattern of being based on “alternative history.”
      Six days after the Versailles Treaty effective date, the League of Nations, which was a provision of that treaty, held its first council meeting in Paris on 16 January 1920. The great bulk of deaths, deportation, and property confiscation of the Armenian Genocide occurred in the late spring through fall of 1915, more that 3 years earlier.
      With the preliminary Peace Conference in Paris, "The Commission on Responsibilities and Sanctions" was formed in January 1919, and chaired by US Secretary of State Lansing. Based on the commission's findings, articles were added to the Treaty with the Ottomans - Sèvres, August 1920. But the tribunal envisioned for those held for three years on Malta never got enough traction, largely because of lack of concrete evidence linking the detainees with specific criminal acts, and those being held were swapped for 22 British prisoners held by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
        Thank you for correcting my historical continuity. However, my point still stands about Stalin, Hitler, and Mussolini being encouraged by the Turkey's genocide to initiate theirs without fear of international sanctions.
    "but just to understand how does it happen that another group of people
    have learned this history in a completely different way leading to a
    completely different conclusion?"
    Ms. Toumani, I am a fellow Armenian who was born in Turkey. the reason Turkey, in general, has a different view is the way 1915 is taught in the public schools. It is taught that Armenians were committed treason against the Ottoman Empire and had to be deported. That Armenians were back stabbers and the deportations were justified and that some tragically died.
    The private Armenian schools in Istanbul do no teach about the genocide out of fear. They hardly talk about any Armenian history. This is something that's discussed privately at home.
    When a prominent member of the Armenian community in Istanbul, Hrant Dink, spoke up publicly, in Turkey, about the genocide and Turko-Armenian relations, the anti-Armenian epithets in the media, he was shot and killed.
    Hrant Dink ran an newspaper from Istanbul for over a decade with the main purpose of communicating about Armenian issues to the rest of the Turkey. He started a dialogue. He changed minds, including members of the media. But that was too much for the ultra-nationalists in Turkey. He was shot and killed by an teenager in 2007.
    The reason I mention Hrant Dink is that he wanted a dialog. He started it, and knew how to communicate to the rest of the country, and he paid with his life. This is the climate of fear that the minorities in Turkey live in.
    Do not hold your breath, the Islamist regime running Turkey will never offer any apology for the genocide of the Armenians.
    "Forty Days of Musa Dagh" by Franz Werfel is worth reading. Only one film adaptation has been made. Most recently Sylvester Stallone tried to make a film on the subject but was dissuaded under Turkish pressure. Better lobbying than N Korea for sure.
      The story behind that novel is a big one.
      It's based on a real event from the genocide, near what is today the Turkish-Syrian border. Werfel wrote a novel on it after doing a lot of research. MGM wanted to make a movie of it in the 1930's but the Turkish government put a lot of pressure until it was dropped.
      Across the border from the area where the story took place, is the Syrian town of Kessab, populated by the decedents of the survivors of the genocide. Earlier this year, ISIS fighters crossed over from Turkey to try and take over the town. History still echos in that place.
    There is so much to say.... I spent the first 14 years of my life in Istanbul and perhaps have a better insight to the Turkish psyche. I have set through history classes with tears in my eyes as I had to recite how Armenians massacred Turks instead of the other way around. I still have relatives living there and know that ethnics of any origin (Armenians, Jews, Kurds) are still treated as second class citizens and fear voicing their opinions. Why do we ask the Turks to accept their guilt? Let me ask you why we have courts to punish the guilty of their crimes? Why have the Germans owned up to their horrific acts during WWII? Why do we still hunt down those responsible for acts against humanity? Because to ask for justice is part of human nature. I cannot praise Erdogan's "ground breaking acknowledgment" especially in the current nationalistic wave sweeping Turkey. If the argument is that these atrocities do not belong to the modern Turkey let me tell you that Turkey today is so proud of its Ottoman heritage that the language of that era has been reinstated in schools. Erdogan is ruling the country with the presumed omnipotence of a Sultan. If Turkey is so proud of its Ottoman roots, it must accept that past with its glory and shame. I for myself don't care for any material or sentimental retribution from Turkey. I only believe that we owe the victims of the Armenian genocide an accurate telling of history. Maybe then their bones will rest easy.
      As a Greek American, I watch in sorrow as the Turkish government and people stealthily push the remnants of the Greek Orthodox community to extinction and the rest of the world doesn't give a rip. It's not only an accurate telling of history that's needed, it is present day news!
        The most overt act of pushing the Greeks out of Turkey was with the 1955 pogrom. The 1942 wealth tax targeting Greeks, Armenians and Jews did not help matters either.
      Granted I only read the excerpt, but what is the point of the author, can someone enlighten me? When the author visited Turkey, did she expect to see people with horns growing out of their heads? I'm assuming she's wise enough to know humans are capable of unimaginable cruelty. And that cruelty takes many forms not just mass killings. We are talking about a nation with more jailed journalists than any other country, horrific human and women's rights record. This isn't an "Armenian issue": it's a human issue.
    The problem is not the selective narratives of either side but rather the refusal to acknowledge the historical reality as a simple truth. Armenian 'obsession' with the events of those times is a reaction to Turkish continued, aggressive, and deliberate policy of denial. You do not have to believe in the Armenian side or Turkish side. Facts are not believable. They simply are recognizable.
    Those facts are not always convenient, pleasant, or politically expedient. France, GB, and Russia used and manipulated minority political and religious classes of the empire to destabilize the Ottomans during WW1. As a few of them joined the Entente, the Young Turks used it as casus belli to implement a 'final solution' to the Armenian question. They promised the Kurds the Armenians lands and possessions and used the Wests destabilizing attempts as an excuse to eradicate an entire people, its villages, its names, its monuments, its property, its churches, and their very lives. As WW1 ended, the British/French went back to competing with Russia as both parties made deals with Kemal. Those political classes they had agitated to their own benefit were sold out for new relations with the state of Turkey. With the Soviets swallowing up eastern Armenia and with the west busy trying to secure its interests in the gained Ottoman territories, there was no impetus for Turkey to make any overtures to the Armenian diaspora. In fact, it doubled down in eradicating places names, building infrastructure on mass grave sites, and systemically erasing 20 centuries of History. It also back tracked on its promises to Kurds which lead to a less public and white washed demographic and cultural ethnic cleansing campaign against them that continues to this very day. The fact of that matter is that Armenian official policy towards recognition cannot and should not move until Turkey itself puts its false pride aside, bows its head, and acknowledges its actions.
    The Holocaust was not openly discussed in the 50s because Germany was now an ally against the Soviets and it would not have looked good if Jewry, especially with ties to Russia, to made a fuss and claims against a now important asset in the cold war. Germany quietly distanced itself from its very recent NAZI past and both acknowledged and paid reparations. It wasn't until the late 60s and 70s though that the mass attention to the plight of the Jews was given the amplification it does today. The point here is that Turkey COULD HAVE reached out countless times to make amends, let alone offer moral recognition, to the world community. What has it done instead? Continued to systematically and categorically change real facts. To openly teach lies to newer generations. This is the same country that now has a leader claim that Muslims discovered America. Claims it has the freest press in the world. This is a nation that until recently still prevented Kurds inside Turkey from buying lands inside their own country. That banned the use of its language. Turkey is false to the past not just about the Armenians but about its very identity. The longer it continues to make up History as it goes the harder it become for them to abandon the falsehoods. Lies built upon lies where their fragile pride is worried that acknowledging one fact they have distorted or lied about will bring down the entire collection.
    It is not the duty of Armenians to cater to Turkish denial. It is however the duty of all of the moral world to stand up for what is right. Turks must be freed from their own false national identity. Turkish policy of denial has to end.
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    The other great genocide of the 20th century. Turkey used to be filled with Christians and other religious minorities.
    Christian natives under Muslim rule, Armenians suffered human rights violations long before the genocide of 1915, at the hands of their ruling government. Having a distinct and separate culture from the Turks subjected Armenians to ongoing mass killings from long ago centuries into the 20th century. The Hamidian Massacres claimed as many as 300,000 Armenian lives through 1894-1896, under the rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, nicknamed “The Bloody Sultan”, for his butchering of Christians. Under the Sultan’s rule, Christian families were forced to give up a number of their young male children to be converted to Islam and used as warriors in the front lines. Labeled infidels and treated as second class citizens, they were overtaxed and harassed by racist neighbors and government officials alike. They were also barred from standing witness in a Turkish court of law, rendering all crimes against Armenian citizens a legitimate free action without consequence, without a Muslim witness in their defense; a policy that speaks volumes about the purposeful lack of accountability, obvious contempt, oppression and gross disregard towards the wellbeing of Christian minorities under Turkish rule. In corroboration, William Ramsay, a British ethenographer, wrote of the Armenians in 1890, after his visit to the Ottoman Empire. In describing the treatment of Christians under Turkish rule he wrote, “The Armenians and Greeks were dogs and pigs…to be spat upon…mats for a Turk to wipe his shoes”. He continued by mentioning,” Neither his property, his house, his life, his person, nor his family, was sacred or safe from unprovoked violence”. A third party observation of extreme racism made even after the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, a measure imposed by the west for the equality of Ottoman minorities.
    Unfortunately, I cannot recommend this book.
    I have purchased and read "There Was and There Not" and have a special connection to some of the content of this book. I was one of Meline Toumani's counselors at the summer camp she describes in chapter 2 (summer of 1989) and am keenly aware of the wonderful atmosphere that was (and still is) created there. I have first hand knowledge of the setting. She has cleverly created a distorted and negative image of a summer camp it does not deserve. Her exposure to history, current event debates, and music somehow affected her in hindsight and she feels that her camp experience planted the seed of hatred against Turks. This is simply not true. The sentiment toward Turks within the context of the Genocide era (1915-1918) was one of anger and outrage, not hatred. The ongoing denial by the Turkish government? Astonishment.
    In reality, the summer camp was a fun and educational experience for most young Armenian-Americans where in between sports, arts and crafts, and summer dances, campers were taught Armenian history, participated in lively debates, and were exposed to Armenian culture. Much like American Jewish summer camps where Hebrew is taught, the Holocaust is discussed, and Israeli-Palestinian issues are debated, the Armenian summer camp was a unique place for those of Armenian heritage. Her inclusion in the book of the summer camp is clearly a literary device, in my opinion.
    Keep in mind that students in the US are taught about the Holocaust, Nazi Hunters, the bombing of Hiroshima, Slavery and the treatment of American Indians as part of their history curriculum. Books from Eli Wiesel, John Hersey, and Ernest J. Gaines are good examples of books young adult are assigned in school, and asked to discuss. History, and its aftereffects are not an uncommon topic for teenagers. In debates on these subjects during the school year, the moderator/teacher allows for a free flow of discussion as an outlet to discuss difficult subjects.
    Ms. Toumani also seems woefully out of touch with the contemporary movement of the Armenian Diaspora and Armenia herself. The word myopic has been used to describe her book, and I must concur. Many Armenians focus on nation building in the form of volunteerism in Armenia, repatriation, charity, and business ventures. There are fundraisers designed to improve the quality of life for those in Armenia in areas such as farming, clean water, building roads, etc. That's not to say that Armenian Genocide recognition has taken a back seat. It hasn't, however, her book creates an inaccurate image that all Armenians are solely focused on recognition, which simply isn't true. It is factually incorrect. Additionally, during her time frame in the late 1980's and early 1990's, the Armenian Earthquake was also on the front burner of most Armenians and helping them out. Turkey's response? Sending cargo items filled with trash to Armenia disguised as relief help.
    Toumani's tone and voice in this book is arrogant, petty, and extremely selfish. It is designed to sell books at the expense of just about everyone she has ever had contact with. It was a complete turnoff to have to read her disparaging comments on the summer camp, Armenian boys, Hayastansi (native Armenian) women, Armenian volunteers, Armenian lobbyists, Armenian historians, the Armenian Community, Diasporans, Armenian atheletes, Armenian students club, the City of Yerevan, and just about anything that was Armenian. This is all in the book, not my opinion. It's downright weird.
    To Meline's credit, her passages in Turkey are interesting. Her writing style is easy and flows. The explanation of the denial process of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey is fascinating. This, in my opinion, is where the book shines and her talent clearly obvious. However, to describe her two year trip to Turkey as a "brave journey" is really stretching it. She met Hrant Dink for an hour (he was assassinated by a Turkish extremist), swam in Lake Van, goes to Akhtamar Island, interviews people from across the socioeconomic spectrum, goes to a soccer game, and then "shuts down her science experiment" and comes back to the States and writes this book. Her final chapter where she describes her anguished decision not to tag a term the Armenian Genocide in a NY Times article she penned (she had editorial control) is pathetic as she tried to explain her evolution from a Community member to an Individual.
    I don't believe personal attacks on Toumani outside the confines of the book are appropriate or professional. She is a seasoned writer, educated, and clearly passionate about getting her point out. I respect that. However, the content of the book should be fair game for critique. I have read some reviews of people who have not read the book who have given it a negative or positive review, that's not fair either.
    I have read comments in various online periodicals stating that it takes someone with an "open mind" to read the book. After all, "what's there to be afraid of?" For those who have not given it a positive review, they are considered "closed minded", "extremist", and having a lack of "nuance". These are also hot button marketing words designed to sell books by the Metropolitan/McMillan team. Business is business and there is a product to package and sell. I get it. However, keep in mind that the contents may not actually align with the hype it is getting.
    Meline is clearly positioning herself as a "controversial" author speaking of "taboo subjects" in the tradition of Orhan Pamuk and Elif Safak. She isn't in their league and does not have anywhere near what they have at stake to lose.
    If they killed everyone in your family, you might get a little "obsessed" with getting justice too...
    In 1909 a coalition of Turkish revolutionaries, poised against the monarchy, promised equality under the title of the Young Turks. With the help of oppressed minorities, they removed the Sultan and instated his brother for the purpose of initiating a constitutional monarchy. Hope during a time when Armenian petitions for equal rights were blatantly ignored and protests were met with bloody repression, many Armenians fought for the rise of their eventual murderous government. One such event claimed approximately another 30,000 Armenian lives, known as the month long Adana Massacre of 1909 by the Sultan’s troops. With the victory of the Young Turks, loyal Armenian’s for the first time in centuries enjoyed increased equality and the vast majority were thankful with no motive for complaint. However, the peace was to be short lived, with the emergence of the nationalistic political ideology of Pan-Turkism among Turkish intellectuals, including members of the Young Turk government, like War Minister Enver Pasha, who later admitted to Ambassador Morgenthau, “I have accomplished more towards solving the Armenian problem in three months than Abdul Hamid accomplished in thirty years". Their ambition was clear, to create a purely Turkish state within Ottoman borders, once again subjecting Armenian minorities to dangerous tyranny and racial discrimination.
    By the end of the WW1, two-thirds of the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire had been decimated by their own government. 1.5 million out of the 2 million Armenians in historical Armenia were unjustly forced into helplessness and stripped of every freedom by those who were entrusted with their protection.
    On October 1918, Turkey and its allies were defeated and the perpetrators of the genocide were arrested. An attempt for justice, the Young Turk Leaders, Talat, Enver and Jamal Pasha were accused and found guilty of planned massacres, torture, indecent assault and destruction of villages and bodies by fire. However, these war criminals were allowed to flee on a German submarine before sentencing. With the formation of the new Turkish Republic in 1923, the deliberate nature of Armenian expulsion became evermore clear when surviving Armenian refugees of the genocide where denied the right to return to their ancestral homes.
    A crime not unsuited for the civilized mind, the genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish government in 1915, robbed the Armenian race of Genetic variation, future potential, historic property, generations of psychological wellbeing, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. With the passage of a hundred years, the genetic robbery of Armenians continues to cause damaging repercussions to this day. The ancient genetic pool of the Armenian nation has and continues to suffer exponential and irreparable damages due to the Ottoman’s documented unjust murder, disarming and deportation of their native Armenian population. An already isolated group, the genocide bottle-necked the Armenian race and destroyed familial history, greatly increasing future generations susceptibility to inbreeding and disease. Furthermore, the 1.5 million people that were unjustly murdered and robbed, at the hands of their own government, were otherwise meant to live and reproduce, extending the advancement of their genetic lineages. One hundred years after the genocide means the death toll of the Armenian race multiples with each passing year, with deaths born for them every day. When the scientists, writers, lawyers and community leaders were rounded up and executed on April 24th 1915, the Turkish government deprived the Armenian race of its most productive and advanced members, depleting the quality of genetic variation, severing the root of generations of progress and squandering future intended potential. Armenians of the past have been ancestors to the British, as well as the earliest known inventors of wine, mummification, astronomy and modern clothing items like skirts and leather shoes. Armenians also conducted the first classical symphony to play in Constantinople, three hundred musicians, playing Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin, in attendance were the war ministers who would be responsible for the death of them all. Survivors and their descendants since have given the world inventions like the MRI machine, color television, MIg military aircraft and automatic transmission; though their true intended promise and benefit to humanity will forever remain a stolen mystery.
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    Today the Armenian churches have been allowed to fall to ruin and the Armenian race has yet to receive justice from a brotherhood who turned their heads amidst an undeserved attack. The disbelief of the failure to recognize the unjust death of 1.5 million family members cry's in anguish in the hearts of a shaken people. The evidence of this intentional crime of bigotry is confirmed by multiple survivor, neutral third party and Ottoman ally eyewitness descriptions, with reports of mass ethnic cleansing upon helpless Armenians in approximately a hundred cities and villages in 1915 Turkey. From the letters of Ambassador Morgenthau telling of eyewitness accounts, where Turkish soldiers had reportedly turned their weapons upon peaceful Armenian civilians, wiping them out by the thousands, to the strategic deportation of unsuspecting Armenian elderly, women and children into the deadly Syrian desert. The evidence of a targeted and intentional ethnic cleansing of the Armenian Ottomans is as obvious as it is heartbreaking. The former Ottoman government is guilty of the genetic robbery (genocide) against a million-plus genetic Armenians of the human race, as well as arson, assault, attempted murder, harassment, homicide, hate crimes, war crimes, rape, robbery, vandalism, gross negligence, reckless engagement and child endangerment. The New York times recently wrote of a long-hidden official Ottoman document belonging to the interior war minister, published by Turkish author, Murat Bardaki, which reported that the during 1915-1916, 972,000 Ottoman Armenians disappeared from population records.Yet the current Turkish state vehemently defends these actions, even after comments made by the first president of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who called the genocide of the Armenians "a shameful act”. To this day tensions between the two nations continue to cause tragedy, genocide recognition is illegal in Turkey and has led to the murder of Armenian Journalist Hrant Dink, and the fleeing of Turkish historians like Taner Akcam and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, who speak out against Turkish denial.
    Somehow the 1.5 million screams of unjust slaughter have fallen upon deaf ears, and the bigger tragedy of that fact is what that says about us. Driven by our desperate escape from the unfair compassion-voild terror of the animal world, we have advanced this far because those before us knew that justness, freedom and peace were goals worth dying for. The justice system was created to reinstate fairness on behalf of an unjustly harmed party and a guarantee to every human being past, present and future. Turkey is liable and indebted for uncompensated damages and owes the Armenians reparations for unjust victimization and robbery of life, liberty, history and property. To demand recognition of the Armenian genocide is not a personal attack against all of Turkey; it is a just request due to accumulating damages of a documented war crime negligence by their former short-lived ruling government. A crime measured on a legal scale as the most heinous of actions, we merely ask for respect and responsibility for a wrongful cruel and unusual punishment, along with the opportunity for renewed friendship between brothers and neighbors. To speak against the government is not to damn the people, many Turks and Kurds risked their lives to save Armenian's from perish and we remain grateful to this day.
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    These events should be part of history. It's wrong of Turkey to deny its history, but it's also wrong of people to want the current government to apologize for something they were not responsible for. Reach far into the past and everyone's ancestors singly or collectively will be involved in some atrocity. Remember and learn, rather than obsess with blame and punishment when the guilty no longer exist.
    Whats even more amazing is that this Holocaust and the Jewish Holocaust pale compared with the Christian Holocaust. The Christian Holocaust committed by the Brother in Law of Stalin, Lazar Kaganovich and the Jewish Bolshevik Party was the BIGGEST Holocaust of the 20th Century. It is NEVER mentioned and kept out of any News Media. WHY?
    How can you NOT call it Genocide! If the term "Genocide" was coined by Raphael Lemkin after the ethnic cleansing of Armenians by the Ottoman Government! Should we then call the organized mass "Death Marches" of Armenian women & children, accross the desert without food or water "Extreme Jogging Trips"! How about we call the mass "ISIS style" beheadings of Armenian intellectuals "A Medical Procedure"!
    Not calling the organized mass murder of Armenians a "Genocide" is an insult equivalent to
    calling the victims of the Jewish Holocaust "Casualties of War!" Shalom!
    In a landmark decision, the highest court in Europe, The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) nuequivocally supported the Turkish position in its Dec 17, 2013 verdict on Perincek vs Switzerland, convicting Switzerland for violating Turks' rights to free speech and expression when Swiss laws gullibly banned dissent on the "alleged" Armenian genocide-- .
    ECHR stated that “[t]he existence of a ‘genocide’, which was a precisely defined legal concept, was not easy to prove… (ECHR) doubted that there could be a general consensus… given that historical research was, by definition, open to discussion and a matter of debate, without necessarily giving rise to final conclusions or to the assertion of objective
    and absolute truths”.
    Thus, the ECHR created a legal precedent of inadmissibility of any comparison between the court-proven Jewish Holocaust and the discredited Armenian political claims, as the latter lacks what the former clearly has: concrete historical facts,
    clear legal basis, and existence of the “acts had been found by an international court to be clearly established”.
    Why the denial from the Turks: there was so many things going on, so many factions. Similar to the Spanish civil war. That many Historians such as Norman Stone and Bernard Lewis say that it was NOT a genocide. But more of a civil war.
    The Turks have already paid reparations. You have to remember the millions of Turks killed too. There is enough blame to go around...
    Probably a propos of nothing, as I was growing up (I was born in 1939), I can remember being admonished, when I did not finish eating everything on my plate, to "not waste food — remember the starving Armenians." It had the ring of a catch-phrase my parents (born in 1912 and 1918 respectively) had grown up with and were now repeating to their children.
    Let the historical facts speak for themselves: 7 OF 7
    “…From 1911 to 1923, the Ottoman Empire and the people of Turkey participated in five long, hard, and destructive wars.
    These were the Tripolitanian War / Trablusgarb Harbi / Türk Italyan Harbı (1911-1912), the two Balkan Wars (1912-1913), World War I (1914-1918), and the Turkish War of National Liberation (1918-1923). To most Turkish people who lived
    through that era, these wars were really only one, the Seferberlik, or period of mobilization, which went on continuously throughout these years.
    During these wars, the entire infrastructure of life in the Ottoman Empire was destroyed. Fields were left barren and uncultivated; roads and railroad lines were destroyed and their equipment wrecked; harbors and quays were blown up by
    repeated bombing, and many of the people living nearby were killed; Istanbul and the other great cities of the empire were partially destroyed by bombing, bombarding and great fires. The entire nation, thus, was for all practical purposes destroyed. One of the greatest miracles of Atatürk’s leadership during and after the Turkish War of National Liberation was the manner in which he was able to raise the Turkish people from this wreckage and lead them to revive and reconstruct what became the Turkish Republic.
    In the midst of all this destruction, no fewer than 30 percent, one third, of all the people who lived in the Ottoman Empire at the start of the war died. In the war zones, Macedonia and Thrace, western Anatolia, northeastern Turkey and southeastern Turkey, that percentage was as high as sixty or even seventy percent, much higher than any other country that was involved in these wars. No-one was counting, so it is very difficult to give actual figures, but perhaps no fewer than four million people died in the lands of the Ottoman Empire during these wars, and these were people of all races and religions, all ethnic origins, they were Muslims, Jews and Christians, they were Turks and Armenians, Arabs and Greeks, and many more…”
    Source: From “The Ottoman Holocaust”; a lecture delivered by Stanford J. Shaw (1930-2006, Professor of Modern Ottoman History, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey; Professor of Turkish History, University of California, Los Angeles,) to the First International Symposium on Armenian Claims and The Reality of Azerbaijan, sponsored by the Atatürk Research Center, 5 May 2005, Ankara, Turkey
    Note: Armenian terrorist in Los Angeles bombed in 1977 this Jewish professor's house, because Armenians did not like the book this professor wrote based on his research. Enough said about Armenian tolerance for responsible opposing virews.
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    Let the historical facts speak for themselves: 3 OF 7
    1923 :
    "…In some towns containing ten Armenian houses and thirty Turkish houses, it was reported that 40,000 people
    were killed, about 10,000 women were taken to the harem, and thousands of children left destitute; and the city university destroyed, and the bishop killed. It is a well- known fact that even in the last war the native Christians, despite the Turkish cautions, armed themselves and fought on the side of the Allies. In these conflicts, they were not idle, but they were well
    supplied with artillery, machine guns and inflicted heavy losses on their enemies…."
    Source: Lamsa, George M., a missionary well known for his research on Christianity, The Secret of the Near East, The Ideal Press, Philadelphia 1923, p 133
    Let the historical facts speak for themselves: 1 OF 7
    1914 :
    "……Armenian nationalist movement had blossomed since the turn of the (20th) century, armed and encouraged by the Russian, and several minor coups were repressed by the YOUNG TURK government before 1914. Denied the right to a
    national congress in October 1914, moderate Armenian politicians fled to BULGARIA, but extreme nationalists crossed the border to form a rebel division with Russian equipment. It invaded in December an slaughtered an estimated 120,000 non-Armenians while the TURKISH ARMY was preoccupied with mobilization and the CAUCASIAN FRONT OFFENSIVE TWOARD SARIKAMISH…"
    Source: The Macmillan Dictionary of The First World War, Stephen Pope & Elizabeth-Anne Wheal, Macmillan Reference Books, London, 1997, ISBN 0 333 68909 7 (and 2003, ISBN 0 85052 979-4,) page 34.
    120,000 Turks killed out of 15 million is like 26 million Americans killed today. What would America do to Armenians if Armenians killed 26 million Americans? Consider we went to a global war against international terrorism for 3,000 Americans killed. Why, then, is the Ottoman Empire not right in temporarily relocating Armenians who killed 120,000 Turks in 1914 alone?
    Violence is a learned behavior and crime without punishment is encouragement for repetition. Under the demonstrative and philosophical influence of their murderous Ottoman allies of war, the 1915 butchery of a disliked minority prompted Germany to unleash a lesson learned upon another 6 million innocent victims. Once complicit in the genocide of the Armenians, the Germans aided in the escape of the three war criminals responsible for the Armenian genocide, who were later found and assassinated in Germany. They were to improve upon their friend’s methods of mass murder with a modern storm of injustice upon their vilified Jewish, Polish, elderly, gay and disabled citizens. “Who after all speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?" assured Adolf Hitler in August of 1939, as defense against doubt. The example and inspiration of Nazi Germany was the overlooking of the greatest crime of injustice in modern history, spreading the contagious infection of genocide to claim over eleven million people who were terrorized and robbed of everything possible.
    I read the book excerpt. Although it is too short to coment on the book, but from what I read I feel that the author favors Turkey, probably paid by them. The beauty of a city has nothing to do with the genocide. Maybe she should go back and stay there! And I was surprised to see an article about the genocide! No wonder! Why do you think you see the article on Yahoo's first page?
      Actually, I would argue that the beauty of the city is part of the backdrop of the genocide. Many of the architects of the magnificent building of Istanbul, such as Dolmabahce palace, were Armenian. We Armenians left a positive mark on the Ottoman Empire.
    On April 24th 1915, more than 500 community leaders and intellectuals, including priests, journalists, doctors, architects, craftsman and lawyers were arrested and murdered, robbing the Armenian race of their best and brightest minds. In spring of 1915, a document found in the Turkish archives, orders the deportation of the remaining Armenian population of Anatolia. A disarmed people with no men and no leaders where declared a threat to state security and were to be thrown into the wild Syrian Desert. German Consul Walter Rossler, in a report to Berlin mirrored this disbelief, 'In the absence of menfolk, nearly all of whom have been conscripted, how can women and children pose a threat?". Women, children and the elderly, city and village dwellers with no experience in desert survival, were to be transported by cattle trucks into the desert and forced on a death march for hundreds of miles away from their homes, falling victim to execution, bandits, wild animals, starvation and disease. This is when US ambassador Henry Morgenthau sent a letter stating his concern that a “campaign of race extermination” was being forced upon people he referred to as “peaceful Armenians”. In agreement, German consul to Erzerzum, Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter, reported on the propaganda against the Armenians, who were falsely portrayed as rebels in instances of self-defense. Scheubner-Richter stated his concern that “the Turkish charges against the Armenians were untrue”, and that, “all house searches ended without finding any incriminating evidence, no bombs or anything like bombs were found”. In June 1915, American consul, Leslie Davis, wrote of his accounts of the deported Armenians to his ambassador,” They are all ragged, dirty, starving and sick, it is no surprise since they have been walking for two months without permission to wash or shelter”, he went on to call the region “ a slaughter house province”. An ally to Turkey, German consul Walter Rossler, wrote in another distressed appeal for intervention,” More and more bodies are being swept along the Euphrates, this time mostly women and children, is there nothing that can be done to stop this horror?”. During this time, reports of massacres, burnings in caves, hangings and rapes of Armenians were countless. Even German Ambassador Vagenheim, who had refused to help the Armenians, even after countless pleas for intervention by his own consuls and missionaries, admitted “the Turkish government is trying to exterminate the entire Armenian race”. In a last act of robbery, the Ottoman government proceeded to sell the property of the former Armenian population under the title of “abandoned goods”, scattering and blurring the history and memories of an ancient people.
    “Whatever crimes the perverted instincts of the human mind can devise and whatever refinements of persecution and injustice the most debased imagination can conceive became the daily misfortunes of this devoted people. I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this”. These are the words American Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry Morgenthau, used to describe his eyewitness accounts of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. One of the oldest human civilizations on earth, the Armenians have been credited with the earliest known astronomical stone observatory dated back 7,500 years, predating Stonehenge in England, and the earliest known ability to produce wine and clothing, dating back to 5000 BC. These natives of the Armenian highland, now called the Caucus Mountains for political reasons, were first recorded in the first written language, the Sumerian inscriptions, who thought life originated in the Armenian highland, around 2700 BC and by the Greeks after that. As the first nation to embrace the philosophy of Jesus Christ, their peaceful beliefs would cost them countless lives, land and freedoms, during a time when the untamed animal spirit of humanity roared through endless war and bloodshed. Once an empire stretching from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea, invasion and settlement by nomadic warrior tribes from Central Asia, around the fourteenth century, began the tyrannical Turkic force of intolerance against the Armenian people. Prisoners in their own homes, the initial murder of Armenian men and rape of women, for the purpose of creating Turkified boy soldiers, severely depopulated the once prosperous Armenian race and drew to the virtual extinction of the original Armenian bloodline. As a result, modern Turks contain 91% mixed DNA, composed of Greek, Armenian, Bulgarian and Hebrew lineages.
    Racial history is something that is not easily forgotten. It is no surprise that this is still a sensitive issue for both the Armenians, and the Turks, 100 years after the events in Turkey. America, being a young country, does not always understand this old hatreds and tensions. It is good to see that there are those who are willing to see past the hate to forge a new relationship and a new future.
    Let the historical facts speak for themselves: 6 OF 7
    “…In all the countries, under all the regimes, the staff of the armies in the field evacuate towards the back, the populations which live in the zone of fights and can bother the movement of the troops, especially if these populations are hostile. Public opinion does not find anything to criticize to these measures, obviously painful, but necessary. During winter of 1939-1940, the radical - socialist French government evacuated and transported in the Southwest of France, notably in the Dordogne, the entire population of the Alsatian villages situated in the valley of the Rhine, to the east of the Maginot line. This German-speaking population, and even sometimes germanophil, bothered the French army. It stayed in the South, far from the evacuated homes and sometimes destroyed until 1945….And nobody, in France, cried out for inhumanity…
    ”Source: Georges de Maleville, lawyer and a specialist on the Armenian question, La Tragédie Arménienne de 1915, (The Armenian tragedy of 1915), Editions F. Sorlot-F. Lanore, Paris, 1988, p 61-63
    Let the historical facts speak for themselves: 5 OF 7
    “… The deafening drumbeat of the propaganda, and the sheer lack of sophistication in argument which comes from preaching decade after decade to a convinced and emotionally committed audience, are the major handicaps of Armenian historiography of the diaspora today…”
    Source: Dr. Gwynne Dyer, a London-based independent journalist, 1976
    Let the historical facts speak for themselves: 4 OF 7
    1928 :
    “...Few Americans who mourn, and justly, the miseries of the Armenians, are aware that till the rise of nationalistic ambitions, beginning with the 'seventies, the Armenians were the favored portion of the population of Turkey, or that in the Great War, they traitorously turned Turkish cities over to the Russian invader; that they boasted of having raised an Army of one hundred and fifty thousand men to fight a civil war, and that they burned at least a hundred Turkish villages and exterminated their population...”
    Source: John Dewey, The New Republic, 12 November 1928
    Let the historical facts speak for themselves: 2 OF 7
    “…For fourteen days, I followed the Euphrates; it is completely out of the question that I during this time would not have seen at least some of the Armenian corpses, that according to Mrs. Stjernstedt’s statements, should have drifted along the river en masse at that time. A travel companion of mine, Dr. Schacht, was also travelling along the river. He also had nothing to tell when we later met in Baghdad… …In summary, I think that Mrs. Stjernstedt, somewhat uncritically, has accepted the hair-raising stories from more or less biased sources, which formed the basis for her lecture…”
    Source: H.J. Pravitz, A Swedish officer, Nya Dagligt Allehanda, 23 April, 1917 issue, (A Swedish Newspaper published from 1859 to 1944)
    Fantasy is often much easier to believe than reality. Rather than accept and commemorate one of the worst genocides of the twentieth century, people would rather accept and commemorate make-believe 'genocides' such as the Tibetan 'genocide'. If only Armenians were as fashionable for hollywood celebs to take an interest in, their history would have far more attention than being relegated to history's dust bin.
    1912 marked the increasing dismemberment of the Empire, with 85% of Ottoman lands in Europe lost in the Balkan Wars. The Ottoman Empire entered WWI in 1914, joining Germany, Austria and Hungry against France, Great Britain and Russia. The Armenian homeland had been divided between the enemy Russians, and a loyal pawn used in the Young Turks rise to power was now branded a potential threat. Motivated by desperation, paranoia and nationalism, the following overreactions of the Ottoman government, towards the whole Armenian race within their borders, caused the ruthless planned destruction of a people who had been historically propagandized against as an inferior national enemy. Amidst a crumbling empire, surmounting debt, and powered by centuries of religious discrimination and animosity, the empire recognized an opportunity to eliminate the native population under the cover of war. Justified as a result of a handful of deserters and Russian loyalists, every Armenian citizen of the empire was unjustly deemed an enemy to be cruelly disposed of. An order was implemented for the confiscation of all guns owned by Armenians, rendering all Armenian families defenseless in a time of war; even after loyal Ottoman-Armenians fought against their fellow Russian-Armenians in the name of the Ottoman Empire for the first year of WW1. Another order was sent to call all Armenian men ages 15-60 for mandatory conscription.With no warning of war declared against them, over 60,000 Armenian men reported to fight on behalf of their government, their loyalty betrayed, they were all organized into unarmed labor battalions and executed; this despite Ottoman War Minister Enver Pasha’s earlier letter of gratitude to the Armenian Patriarch for the tremendous service of Armenian soldiers, which he claimed to have seen with his own eyes. The fact that tens of thousands of compliant Armenian men reported for duty on behalf of the Ottoman government illustrates the falsehood claimed by genocide deniers of mass Armeno-Turkic conflict during this time; While radicals have existed from all sides at all times in history, the great majority of Armenian men were not busy fighting against the Ottomans, instead they were law abiding citizens who were tricked under false pretenses into walking into a murderous, fraudulent and traitorous ambush. An entire sex destroyed, the extermination of the majority of Armenian men, of reproductive age, marked the mass genetic robbery of the Armenian Y chromosome and the beginning of the first genocide of the 20th century.
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    Genocides/mass killings/ethnic cleansings/etc. are such a pervasive and ongoing part of human history that I highly doubt any benefit that comes from acknowledging them--especially generations after-the-fact.
    That said, the mass killings of ethnic Armenians c. 1914-16 is horridly complicated in every matter to certainly include blame.
    The knee-jerk reaction to blame the Ottomans and by association modern Turkey displays an ignorance of history in the region as well as the political mood at the time.
    The Armenian Empire was largely coincident with and sandwiched between the Ottoman and Persian Empires. The area where the massacre occurred was claimed by at least two of those empires at any given time for centuries yet it was not under administrative control of anyone. Dare I even mention the "mountain people"-- the highly tribalistic Kurds--who have been used as pawns by everyone?