I feel I am able to communicate
well and I have a good grounding
in people skills.......Basically
all humanity is the same!
The foundation of this blog was cemented by the Assassination of Hrant Dink on 19.01.07. I was listening to Setrak Setrakian’s rendition of Arno Babajanian’s composition, Elegy. So
moved by Hrant’s shortened life by the virtue of speaking his mind that I wrote the poem, ‘Without You’ with Hrant's family in mind. The subject matter of the recognition of the ‘Genocide of the Armenians in 1915,’ is very much at the heart and the minds of Armenian's Internationally.
I want to say: 'Thank you,'
to Keith for the Creation
and Launch of,
and Armenag for the sources
If you feel it would be appropriate, please include a link to my Blog from your Site. I would like my Blog to be as eclectic as possible and include material from as many and different sources so long as it is relevant to my subject matter.
This well-established Blog is worth visiting on a regular basis for a wealth of information of interest to Armenian nationals and to the Armenian Diaspora world-wide. Although it has a particular role in promoting international recognition of the Genocide, the Blog encompasses much more and includes many articles of general appeal to all those concerned with Armenian affairs. Much of the content is difficult or impossible to find elsewhere and the long list of links provided gives easy access to a plethora of material on social, political, religious, educational and cultural matters, and many news items from around the world.
Leading article: The burden of history The Independent Published: 12 October 2007
A perfect diplomatic storm is brewing in Turkey. This week a Congressional committee in Washington voted in favour of a resolution describing the mass slaughter of Armenians by Turkey in 1915 as genocide. This has predictably gone down badly in Ankara, which refuses to accept that the killing of 1.5 million Armenians during the First Word War warrants such a label. Turkey is now considering withdrawing military co-operation with the US over Iraq in response.
It gets worse. The Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been planning to introduce a motion to the Turkish parliament sanctioning cross-border military operations into Iraqi Kurdistan to strike the Kurdish rebel group operating from there. Such an incursion could destabilise one of the few peaceful regions of Iraq. The White House is trying to persuade Mr Erdogan not to send in troops, but the Armenian resolution in Congress has wiped out Washington's leverage.
It is possible to have some sympathy for Mr Erdogan. He is under huge internal pressure to act over the Kurdish situation. The killing of 15 Turkish soldiers has turned Turkish public opinion in favour of cross-border military action. And Mr Erdogan must be wary of the hostile Turkish military establishment. Mr Erdogan's Justice and Development party won national elections this year, but the charge of neglecting national security and refusing to stand up for Turkey abroad would be a potent one.
There is no simple way out of this morass. Yet there is some hope. There is no reason to believe that Mr Erdogan wants to alienate Turkey's allies in the US and the EU by invading Kurdistan. And the motion before the Turkish parliament would allow an incursion any time within the next year. This opens a window for the US to put pressure on the Kurdish government to clamp down on the rebels operating from within its borders.
In the long term, Turkey needs to accept the terrible stain that the Armenian slaughter has left on its national history. Regardless of whether these events are called genocide or not, there is scant evidence of this acceptance so far in Turkey. A negotiated settlement with the Kurdish separatists, who represent up to a fifth of the population, is also long overdue.
But in the short-term, Mr Erdogan deserves support from abroad for keeping the show on the road. The alternatives for the international community at the moment are significantly worse. The Armenian genocide and Kurdish separatism are ultimately issues that Turkey must come to terms with. But the rest of the world could - and should - be doing more to make things easier for the moderates in Ankara in the process.
The Guardian, UK Oct 12 2007 Making difficult situations worse Leader Friday October 12, 2007 The Guardian
Outside Turkey there is a broad consensus that the massacre and forced deportations of more than a million Armenians in the latter years of the Ottoman empire were nothing less than genocide. Last year France voted to make it a crime to deny that, and on Wednesday a US congressional panel approved a bill describing the massacres as genocide. But the country where this debate matters most is Turkey - and officially it continues to claim that as many Turks as Armenians died in the civil unrest of the crumbling empire. The real test of the vote by the US house committee on foreign affairs is whether or not a Turkish reassessment of the events of 1917 is likely to happen.
The issue is not just a lightning rod for nationalists, but a litmus test for the human-rights agenda on which EU entry talks depend. The Nobel prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk was prosecuted under article 301, a law that makes insulting the republic punishable by up to three years in prison. He had said in an interview with a Swiss newspaper that the Armenian massacres and the killings of over 30,000 Kurds in the 1990s were taboo topics in Turkey. A Turkish-Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink, was shot dead outside his newspaper in January for saying the killings were genocide; he had been prosecuted under article 301, and yesterday his son Aram received a suspended sentence under the same law. The US vote is unlikely to make it easier for Turkey's president, Abdullah Gul, to amend article 301, as he would wish; in fact it will reinforce nationalist support for it. The tangled web of cause and effect does not stop there. Turkey has yet to respond to attacks by the Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK) which have killed 15 soldiers and 12 civilians in the past 10 days. There are about 3,000 PKK guerrillas, many operating from camps in the Qandil mountains in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, and the US is desperate to stop a Turkish incursion. Ankara says that if neither the leadership in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq nor the US is able to curb the PKK, its troops will. The prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, succumbed this week to months of pressure from the army chief of staff, agreeing that cross-border raids may have to happen. Should they do so, the stability of the only area of Iraq untouched by civil war would be under threat.
Mr Erdogan is a moderate on the Armenian and Kurdish questions, but he knows that Turkish support for US regional policy is a house of cards waiting to collapse. The US Democrats may hope to pick up easy votes from the Armenian diaspora for their own election battles in 2008. But they should bear in mind that more than just domestic politics are at stake: another country's people is looking on.
JUDGING GENOCIDE Economist, UK Oct 11 2007 Relations between America and Turkey may be badly strained by Congress's wish to make a ruling on history
"THE Mohammedans in their fanaticism seemed determined not only to exterminate the Christian population but to remove all traces of their religion and...civilisation." So wrote an American consul in Turkey, in 1915, about an incipient campaign by Ottoman Turkey against its Armenian population. Today, Turkey explains the killings of huge numbers of Armenians-as many as 1.5m died-as an unpleasant by-product of the first world war's viciousness, in which Turks suffered too. But Armenians have long campaigned for recognition of what they say was genocide.
On Wednesday October 10th America's Congress stepped closer to endorsing the latter view. The foreign-affairs committee of the House of Representatives passed a bill stating that "the Armenian Genocide was conceived and carried out by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923." The bill has enough co-sponsors that it seems likely to pass the full House. The speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has a large number of Armenians in her home district and has promised the measure a vote on the floor. As a foretaste of the trouble this could stir up in Turkey, the country's president, Abdullah Gul, immediately condemned the passage of the bill. He called it "unacceptable" and accused American politicians of being willing to cause "big problems for small domestic political games".
Turkey is enormously important to American military efforts in the Middle East. So leading American politicians past and present have lined up to oppose the resolution. President George Bush has said historians, not legislators, should decide the matter. Turkey has hired Dick Gephardt, a former leader of the Democrats in the House, to lobby against the bill. All eight living former secretaries of state, from Henry Kissinger to Madeleine Albright, who lost three grandparents in the Nazi Holocaust, oppose the bill. So does Condoleezza Rice, who holds the post now. Jane Harman, a powerful and hawkish Democrat, initially co-sponsored the measure. But last week she urged its withdrawal. A trip to Turkey, where she met the prime minister and the Armenian Orthodox patriarch, changed her mind.
Ms Harman echoed an argument that others have made against the resolution: that Turkey itself is tiptoeing towards normal relations with neighbouring Armenia. The resolution could throw that process off course. But in other ways Turkey has not helped its own case: its criminal code has been used against writers within the country who dare to mention genocide.
And other Turkish behaviour has further distanced it from America.
Turkey recently signed a deal to develop oil and gas with Iran, and has made overtures to Hamas, which runs part of the Palestinian Authority and continues to refuse to recognise Israel. Such behaviour has cost Turkey some support among Jewish Americans-formerly ardent supporters of Turkey as a moderate Muslim republic that is friendly to Israel. Some even worry that a freshly insulted Turkey will not heed America's opinion when, for example, it thinks about crossing the border into Iraq to pound Kurdish fighters.
It is hardly surprising that Turkey is feeling put-upon. Last year, France's National Assembly passed a bill not only declaring that the Armenian massacres constituted genocide, but making it a crime to deny it. Had the bill made it into law this would have resulted in an absurd situation in which Turkish law forbade mention of genocide while French law forbade its denial, all during Turkey's application to join the European Union. Turks complained that the French bill had less to do with Armenians, and more to do with deterring Turkey's EU membership. The mood has not improved since. France's new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, is an outspoken opponent of Turkish membership.
Hurt feelings on both sides are pushing Turkey and the West apart: Turkey feels mistreated, and acts in such a way. But the deal with Iran and its pell-mell pursuit of Kurdish terrorists into Iraq antagonise Americans and Europeans further. At the least, the panicky reaction of the Bush administration over the genocide resolution shows that policymakers realise that they can no longer take Turkey's friendship for granted.
Resentment greets Armenian genocide charge. By VINCENT BOLAND 16 October 2007 Financial Times
Genocide is the most serious charge that can be levelled at any nation or people. For a country as adamant about its past as Turkey, the concept is unimaginable. Turkish children are taught that their country is among history's good guys - indeed, among history's victims. A focus on the republican period after 1923 means history books gloss over the messier decade of the 1910s. This is why accusations that Ottoman-era Turks and their Kurdish allies committed genocide against the empire's Armenian citizens from 1915 to 1917 cause such bewilderment and resentment. Last week's decision by the foreign affairs committee of the US House of Representatives to acknowledge the genocide had the added stain, from the Turkish point of view, of foreign politicians pronouncing on other people's history. Turkey acknowledges that the Armenians were massacred. But it argues that so too were many Turks as the Ottoman empire - the original "sick man of Europe" - collapsed, and that many people died as the result of war, hunger and displacement. It argues also that there was no systematic attempt by the Ottoman government to eliminate the Armenians because of their ethnicity or religion - no genocide, in other words. Many Turks, including successive governments, are convinced that archives around the world contain the evidence that will exonerate their forebears. Yet the weight of opinion among historians outside Turkey is that the archival evidence points to the Ottoman government's genocidal intent. It is possible that there are documents as yet undiscovered in archives that could disprove this thesis, but historians doubt nearly a century after the event that this will be the case. Many Turks today believe the issue is used as a stick with which to beat modern Turkey, which did not exist at the time of the massacres. The sight of little Armenia proving more successful on this issue with world opinion than big-league Turkey is infuriating. "National pride is part of it," says Ibrahim Kalin, director of the Seta think-tank in Ankara. "Turks see it not as an issue that is debated as a matter of historical fact but as an issue to put pressure on Turkey. It's seen as an alliance of the Christian west against Muslim Turkey." Turkey's official stance - that it is a question best addressed by historians - is increasingly difficult to sustain. Even the argument made by some Turks - that the circumstances of the crime do not fit the definition of genocide - is falling on deaf ears. With the historical consensus seemingly against the current Turkish position, the issue is political and diplomatic. Turkey has yet to adopt policies to address it in those terms. "I wish it was a matter of the historical record," Mr Kalin says. "But at the end of the day this is a political issue."
ARMENIA 'GENOCIDE' VOTE IS SNUB TO BUSH By Daniel Dombey in Washington Financial Times, UK Oct 11 2007
US legislators on Wednesday defied the Bush administration and angered the Turkish government when they voted to describe the mass killings of Armenians more than eight decades ago as genocide.
The 27-21 decision by the House of Representatives foreign affairs committee, which paves the way for a vote in the full House in coming weeks, came in spite of a warning from George W. Bush, president, and his top officials that co-operation with Turkey and the fate of US troops in Iraq could be at stake.
It also comes as the US seeks to convince Turkey not to carry out a large-scale military incursion into northern Iraq to crack down on Kurdish militants.
Proponents of the measure, which has vigorous support from the Armenian-American population, argue that its call for Mr Bush to "accurately characterise the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1.5m Armenians as genocide" is essential to putting the historical record straight.
"The sad truth is that the modern government of Turkey refuses to come to terms with this genocide," said Representative Christopher Smith of New Jersey, at an emotionally charged session attended by four survivors of the mass killings that began in 1915.
"Let us do this and be done with it," said Representative Brad Sherman of California. "We will get a few angry words out of Ankara for a few days, and then it's over."
But only hours before the committee voted Mr Bush warned that passage of the resolution "would do great harm to our relations with a key ally in Nato and in the global war on terror".
According to US commanders in Iraq, including Gen David Petraeus, Robert Gates, defence secretary, said: "Access to airfields and to the roads and so on in Turkey would be very much put at risk if this resolution passes and the Turks react as strongly as we believe they will." He added that about 70 per cent of US air cargo going into Iraq went through Turkey.
US officials say passage of the resolution by the full House will make Washington's bid to convince Turkey not to launch a military incursion into Iraq much harder. Public outrage against the Kurdish separatist PKK has flared in the wake of an attack in which 13 soldiers were killed on Sunday.
Washington's push for Turkey take a more collaborative approach on combating PKK has also been complicated by the resignation of Joseph Ralston, the retired US general who had been seeking to increase Washington-Ankara co-operation against the militant group.
"For his own reasons he decided that he was going to be moving on," said Sean McCormack, state department spokesman, this week. "Any continuing presence of the PKK or the continuing activities of the PKK is not because what he did or did not do." He added that he was not yet aware of a possible replacement for Gen Ralston.
Wall Street Journal REVIEW & OUTLOOK Secretary of State Pelosi The Armenian genocide doesn't belong in U.S. foreign policy right now. Tuesday, October 16, 2007 12:01 a.m.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, famous for donning a head scarf earlier this year to commune for peace with the Syrians, has now concluded that this is the perfect moment to pass a Congressional resolution condemning Turkey for the Armenian genocide of 1915. Problem is, Turkey in 2007 has it within its power to damage the growing success of the U.S. effort in Iraq. We would like to assume this is not Speaker Pelosi's goal.
To be clear: We write that we would like to assume, rather than that we do assume, because we are no longer able to discern whether the Speaker's foreign-policy intrusions are merely misguided or are consciously intended to cause a U.S. policy failure in Iraq.
Where is the upside in October 2007 to this Armenian resolution?
The bill is opposed by eight former U.S. Secretaries of State, including Madeleine Albright. After Tom Lantos's House Foreign Affairs Committee voted out the resolution last week, Turkey recalled its ambassador from Washington. Turkey serves as a primary transit hub for U.S. equipment going into both Iraq and Afghanistan. After the Kurdish terrorist group PKK killed 13 Turkish conscripts last week near the border with Iraq, Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, asked the parliament to approve a huge deployment of the army along the border, threatening an incursion into Kurdish-controlled Iraq. This of course is the one manifestly successful region of post-Saddam Iraq. In a situation teetering on a knife-edge, President Bush has been asking Mr. Erdogan to show restraint on the Iraq border.
Somehow, none of this is allowed to penetrate Speaker Pelosi's world. She is offering various explanations for bringing the genocide resolution to the House floor. "This isn't about the Erdogan government," she says. "This is about the Ottoman Empire," last seen more than 85 years ago. "Genocide still exists," insists Ms. Pelosi. "We saw it in Rwanda; we see it now in Darfur."
Yes, but why now, with Turkey crucial to an Iraq policy that now has the prospect of a positive outcome? The answer may be found in the compulsive parochialism of the House's current edition of politicians, mostly Democrats. California is home to the country's largest number of politically active Armenians. Speaker Pelosi has many in her own district. Mr. Lantos represents the San Francisco suburbs. The bill's leading sponsors include Representatives Adam Schiff, George Radanovich and Anna Eshoo, all from California.
Pointedly, Jane Harman, the Southern California Democrat who Speaker Pelosi passed over for chair of the intelligence committee, wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times Friday, questioning the "timing" of the resolution and asking why it is necessary to embarrass a "moderate Islamic government in perhaps the most volatile region in the world."
Why indeed? Perhaps some intrepid reporter could put that question to the three leading Democratic Presidential candidates, who are seeking to inherit hands-on responsibility for U.S. policy in this cauldron. Hillary Clinton has been a co-sponsor of the anti-Turk genocide resolution, but would she choose to vote for it this week?
Back when Bill Clinton was President, Mr. Lantos took a different view. "This legislation at this moment in U.S.-Turkish relations is singularly counterproductive to our national interest," he said in September 2000, when there was much less at stake in the Middle East. According to Reuters, he added that the resolution would "humiliate and insult" Turkey and that the "unintended results would be devastating." If Nancy Pelosi and Tom Lantos want to take down U.S. policy in Iraq to tag George Bush with the failure, they should have the courage to walk through the front door to do it. Bringing the genocide resolution to the House floor this week would put a terrible event of Armenia's past in the service of America's bitter partisanship today. It is mischievous at best, catastrophic at worst, and should be tabled.
Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Turkey's War on the Truth Washington Post By Richard Cohen Tuesday, October 16, 2007; A19
It goes without saying that the House resolution condemning Turkey for the "genocide" of Armenians from 1915 to 1923 will serve no earthly purpose and that it will, to say the least, complicate if not severely strain U.S.-Turkey relations. It goes without saying, also, that the Turks are extremely sensitive on the topic and, since they are helpful in the war in Iraq and are a friend to Israel, that their feelings ought to be taken into account. All of this is true, but I would feel a lot better about condemning this resolution if the argument wasn't so much about how we need Turkey and not at all about the truthfulness of the matter.
Of even that, I have some doubt. The congressional resolution repeatedly employs the word "genocide," a term used by many scholars. But Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-Jewish emigre who coined the term in 1943, clearly had in mind what the Nazis were doing to the Jews. If that is the standard -- and it need not be -- then what happened in the collapsing Ottoman Empire was something short of genocide. It was plenty bad -- maybe as many as 1.5 million Armenians perished, many of them outright murdered -- but not all Armenians everywhere in what was then Turkey were as calamitously affected. The substantial Armenian communities in Constantinople, Smyrna and Aleppo were largely spared. No German city could make that statement about its Jews.
Still, by any name, what was begun in 1915 is unforgivable and, one hopes, unforgettable. Yet it was done by a government that no longer exists -- the so-called Sublime Porte of the Ottomans, with its sultan, concubines, eunuchs and the rest. Even in 1915, it was an anachronism, no longer able to administer its vast territory -- much of the Middle East and the Balkans. The empire was crumbling. The so-called Sick Man of Europe was breathing its last. Its troops were starving, and, both in Europe and the Middle East, indigenous peoples were declaring their independence and rising in rebellion. Among them were the Armenians, an ancient people who had been among the first to adopt Christianity. By the end of the 19th century, they were engaged in guerrilla activity. By World War I, they were aiding Turkey's enemy, Russia. Within Turkey, Armenians were feared as a fifth column.
So contemporary Turkey is entitled to insist that things are not so simple. If you use the word genocide, it suggests the Holocaust -- and that is not what happened in the Ottoman Empire. But Turkey has gone beyond mere quibbling with a word. It has taken issue with the facts and in ways that cannot be condoned. Its most famous writer, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk, was arrested in 2005 for acknowledging the mass killing of Armenians. The charges were subsequently dropped, and although Turkish law has been modified in some ways, it nevertheless remains dangerous business for a Turk to talk openly and candidly about what happened in 1915.
It just so happens that I am an admirer of Turkey. Its modern leaders, beginning with the truly remarkable Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, have done a Herculean job of bringing the country from medievalism to modernity without, it should be noted, the usual bloodbath. (The Russians, for instance, did not manage that feat.) Furthermore, I can appreciate Turkey's palpable desire to embrace both modernity and Islam and to show that such a combination is not oxymoronic. (Ironically, having a dose of genocide in your past -- the United States and the Indians, Germany and the Jews, etc. -- is hardly "not Western.") And I think, furthermore, that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should have spiked the House resolution in deference to Turkey's immense strategic importance to the United States. She's the speaker now, for crying out loud, not just another House member.
But for too long the Turks have been accustomed to muscling the truth, insisting either through threats or punishment that they and they alone will write the history of what happened in 1915. They are continuing along this path now, with much of official Ankara threatening this or that -- crossing into Iraqi Kurdistan, for instance -- if the House resolution is not killed. But it may yet occur to someone in the government that Turkey's tantrums have turned an obscure -- nonbinding! -- congressional resolution into yet another round of tutorials on the Armenian tragedy of 1915. Call it genocide or call it something else, but there is only one thing to call Turkey's insistence that it and its power will determine the truth: unacceptable.
Turkey and the Armenians Today's denial is tomorrow's holocaust Haaretz 12/10/2007 By Yossi Sarid
Congressman Adam Schiff, who proposed the resolution to name the Armenian massacre a genocide, is Jewish. The Jewish nation should be grateful for Schiff's initiative, for he has saved Jewish honor in America, Israel and everywhere. He restored our humane image, in contrast to the cynics and genocide deniers who are forever demanding payment for being perpetual victims.
Congressman Schiff is following in the footsteps of another Jew, Henry Morgenthau, who served as U.S. ambassador in Turkey in those days. He called the massacre "the greatest crime in modern history."
Schiff is also the student of another Jew, Franz Werfel, who on his way to the Land of Israel stopped in Damascus and was appalled to see "the starving, mutilated and sick Armenian refugee children." He published the novel "The Forty Days of Musa Dagh" (1933), which shocked the world.
In 1918 Shmuel Talkovsky, then secretary of Haim Weizmann, wrote with Weizmann's approval: "Is there any nation whose fate is more similar to ours than the Armenians?"
But in Israel today there are Jews who are less than Jewish and Zionists who are less than Zionist - including heads of state and heads of government. Denying another nation's Holocaust is no less ugly than denying ours. It is also dangerous. Today's denial is tomorrow's Holocaust. The Armenian genocide wasn't the first in this era. The German imperial army slaughtered 100,000 Namibians in 1904. In 1915, the Armenian genocide began; the Ottomans killed 1.5 million of them in various ways. If the world had risen up in protest against the genocide of the Namibians and Armenians, the Holocaust of the Jews might also have been averted. This is not a mere assumption; it's probably a fact. A week before invading Poland, Hitler addressed his officers (August 24, 1939): "It's a matter of indifference to me what a weak western European civilization will say about me ... I have ordered my Death-Head Formation to kill mercilessly and without compassion men, women and children of Polish derivation and language. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"
Such was Hitler's calming message to his troops.
The next time some Israel hater - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for example - denies the Jewish Holocaust, and we raise a hue and cry about it, there will be some self-righteous Gentiles ready to say, "You're right, but we have our own Turkeys."
As natural and historic victims, we should be the ones to spread the message from one end of the world to another: what happened to us can happen again, to us and to the people of Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia, Sudan, Burma.
There is no need to compare between holocausts to recognize other nations' suffering.
Oct 18th 2007 From The Economist print edition A congressional vote in Washington that could jeopardise Turkey's path westwards
THE Turks are a proud, prickly people, easily offended by criticism. That much is clear from the row over a resolution, passed by a committee of the United States House of Representatives on October 10th, calling the slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 genocide. The full House has yet to vote on the resolution. But Turkey has reacted angrily, recalling its ambassador. It is talking of cutting military ties and even denying the Americans use of the Incirlik airbase that is vital for the supply of their troops in Iraq (see article).
As such threats demonstrate, Turkey is not just an angry ally. It is also a vital one, with a population of 75m and the world's 19th-biggest economy. It is a strategically important hinge between Europe and Asia; it has the biggest army in NATO after America's; it forms a crucial energy corridor to the West; and it borders on such awkward places as Iran and Syria as well as Iraq. Moreover, it is a rare example in the Muslim world of a lively, secular democracy. Yet internal tensions are exacerbated when clumsy outsiders intervene.
This year has seen a series of clashes between the army and secularists on one side and the mildly Islamist Justice and Development (AK) government led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the other, culminating in a big AK win in the election in July. Mr Erdogan is trying manfully to keep Turkey on the path towards membership of the European Union, even though many Europeans have become openly hostile. He also wants to preserve good relations with America despite renewed fighting with guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), some based in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq. This is a bad moment for America to pick a fight over something that happened 90 years ago, before modern Turkey even existed.
That is not to deny it is a good idea for countries to face up to their past, especially when it was as violent as that of the Ottomans in the early 20th century. Germany has been admirably open about admitting the sins of the Nazi period; Japan has been less candid. It would be good for modern, democratic Turkey to come to terms with the terrible treatment of Armenians in the first world war (as also, in later times, of other minorities, including Greeks, Alevis and Kurds). In recent years, there have been encouraging signs: a few historians' conferences, an attempt to improve relations with Armenia, growing acceptance of the Kurdish language and occasional talk of amending Article 301 of the penal code. This makes “insulting Turkishness” a criminal offence and is used to shut down discussion of the Armenian genocide.
But the adoption of a highly political resolution in America's Congress is the worst possible way to encourage more steps in the right direction. Rather, it would serve only to fan the flames of Turkish nationalism and leave liberals within Turkey who want more open debate about the past even more exposed. Those in Congress who are pushing this resolution have little interest in Turkey or even Armenia, but a lot in the wealthy Armenian-American constituents who are lobbying them. It is telling that many Turkish Armenians, and even the Patriarch of the Armenian church of Istanbul, have not welcomed the House resolution.
Recognising the damaging repercussions in Turkey as well as for Turkish-American relations, the Bush administration has been fighting to stop the resolution's passage. It has mustered all eight living former secretaries of state, both Democrat and Republican, to argue against it. This is testimony to the strategic importance of Turkey. But it also reflects the especially sensitive time. This week the Turkish parliament gave its approval for a possible cross-border military incursion into northern Iraq to root out PKK terrorists based there.
That would be another blunder. The Turks' frustration over northern Iraq is understandable. In the past two weeks alone, some 20 Turkish soldiers have been killed by the PKK. Repeated requests to the Iraqis and local Kurdish authorities to clamp down on the group have been ignored. Yet an invasion would not only upset the most stable region of Iraq but also be unlikely to work, as even some Turkish generals recognise. It would be better for the Americans to do more to counter the PKK in northern Iraq—and for Turkey to renew its earlier efforts to improve the lot of Kurds in its south-east.
Keeping Turkey on its pro-Western course is vital, not just for Iraq, but for the sake of all Turks, including the country's own big Kurdish population. Recent rows have helped to turn Turkish public opinion sharply against both the European Union and the United States, a situation that countries such as Iran and Russia are all too ready to exploit. Pressure to scrap Article 301 and allow open debate in Turkey should continue. But the House resolution is not the way to do it.
The Sunday Herald, UK Oct 28 2007 Turkey has to grasp the past to survive By Ian Bell Comment
MY WIFE has no idea where her grandmother was born. Nothing remarkable about that. In the long century of emigres and immigrants, when the ships were arriving or escaping, many people grew vague about half-remembered farmsteads, deserted villages or tenement rooms in forgotten ports. It happened.
My wife is entitled to be a little more precise, though. "No idea", means none, nothing. Not a scrap of evidence. Once upon a time, someone eradicated a large part of her ancestry. This also happened.
Just to ensure that a daughter's daughter would be forever mystified, they spent the best part of the long century insisting, sometimes with extraordinary violence, that no such eradication was ever contemplated. Just to say so is, to them, an outrage. In their country there is a law forbidding traitors, fools, journalists and novelists from mentioning the thing that never happened.
If that isn't enough, until last week my wife could only guess at Nana's given name. Imagine that.
Some heroic research by my sister-in-law says that once there may have been a girl called Vehanoush Astrick Tchakrian. She had a beautiful smile.
For years, nevertheless, the glorious myth persisted that this Vehanoush was actually "Venus" in some perfect, impossible, imagined past. My wife calculates that Nana spoke nine languages, not because she was a prodigy of a polyglot - though I bet she was - but because picking up a tongue around the Med basin was like picking up insurance. Armenians can never be too careful.
If you believe Turkey's journalist-slaughtering ultra-nationalists, 1.5 million of that troublesome ethnic group may possibly have perished in 1915 thanks to an administrative mishap no-one bothers to explain. You know the script: troubled times, faults on both sides, regrettable things happen.
Armenians remember swaddled children with their throats cut for a whim on the long marches through the desert. Memorialised are the girls raped in ditches and bartered to some local peasant for "marriage". The lucky ones were tossed into ravines.
American church people and diplomats bore witness to some of it. Britain, France and Germany got their reports in the embassy bags. They came for the educated first: for the teachers, doctors, lawyers and, yes, the journalists. Sometimes, the men were merely butchered in the street. The point, not overlooked by a junior Austrian demagogue, was to eliminate the witnesses.
Why does my wife have no knowledge of her grandmother's birthplace? Because hundreds of villages, many towns, and one great city were simply wiped from every map. The next time you take a package holiday to the country that is gracious heir to Byzantium, ask a single question. Ask when the tours through the rubble of Van begin.
Still, here's my most complicated, and least complicated, point. Do I believe that modern Turkey, and modern Turks, should be held responsible for any of this? No, not once, not ever. The Ottoman imperium in its last debauched days slaughtered the Armenians. Ataturk - who neither denied nor diminished the crime - left a finer legacy.
How is it, then, that holocaust denial has become an article of faith for Ataturk's children? Leave the ancient dead and the forgotten past behind, for now. The Congress of the United States of America, the last superpower, has just been bullied with threats and ill-disguised Turkish menaces merely for suggesting that genocide must always be admitted, named, and accepted.
Both George Bush and his Democrat rivals have come round to the view that any slaughter can be overlooked if a strategic airbase is at stake. How can you resupply the unholy Iraq adventure, or bomb Iran if Turkey's national pride is wounded? (And wounded by a fact of history, a fact for which modern Turkey is in no sense held responsible. Strategic infrastructure versus whitened Armenian bones: no contest.) History is not quite done with playful ironies. Turkey has enacted the role of injured innocent with some panache in recent weeks. All of a sudden, America is in no mood to argue if a certain prized ally desires to remove a stone from her shoe. Ankara says it must solve the Kurdish problem once and for all. A head nods in the White House. Killing follows.
At this point, Armenians probably lose the capacity for laughter, or for tears. Long before the Jewish people were caused to suffer and die, Armenians were forced to learn these lessons. Hilarity has its limits, however.
First, there is the issue of the Kurdish enclave. Wasn't that the single success story of the Iraq experiment, the one viable, peaceful example of a semi-democracy in the aftermath of Saddam? And the current plan is to allow Turkey (biggest army within marching distance of Paris or London) to go on the rampage Genius. So the home of the US State Department isn't called Foggy Bottom for nothing, then?
I mentioned history, and irony. When the women and children of Armenia were being dragged through the deserts, they had a pair of tormentors. One was the Turkish state, the other comprised an ethnic group making themselves useful, in those days, to Ottoman Turkey.
They stole homes, farms, livestock and (much the same thing, it appears) fertile girls. Screams of grief and agony, it is remembered, could be heard all over the hills and valleys. The Kurds did that. Now those same Kurds fight the Turks. They have my support, too. Are we still pursuing irony? Simultaneously I support the accession of the great Turkish state to the European Union, and as soon as possible.
"Possible" hinges, however, on the ability of real democracies to acknowledge, accept and - who knows? - apologise for the past. If Ankara continues to insist that the Armenian genocide is a strange conspiracy, let me into the Ottoman archives.
Then fix the constitution. The European ideal and laughable legalese invoking a nation's shallow pride will never cohere. In my country, journalists are not killed in the street for an opinion; generals are fired when they grow over-mighty; we understand genocide and (since we invented most of it) geopolitics. We do not tolerate a barbarism such as article 301, underpinning the Turkish state, threatening free expression.
That sounds patronising, no doubt. Clever of you to notice. Proud Turks, like slow Americans, have very thin skins. Armenians could meanwhile turn victimhood into a folk dance. But Armenians are the actual raped victims of someone else's proud foreign policies.
Someone killed 1.5 million versions of someone's beloved Vehanoush. Those multitudes of Armenians died, in essence, because no-one cared. This week, with another century gone, the Kurds have become the ducks in the shooting gallery. So why has this liberal (you think) non-interventionist got nothing to say about Iraq, and echoes?
Before you dare to hurt you must calculate the quantities of hurt. In the case of Armenia, no-one bothered to count.
When Turkey undergoes purgation, as it must, something vital will take place. That truth will transform us all. At Europe's heart, remember, is a reunited Germany with a history, dark and bloody, we do not yet understand. The Bush White House is grubby, but tawdry and dull: it will pass. So here's an idea. Armenia's past is Turkey's future. Does Turkey want, need, or remember how to grasp a future? Let's have two countries come home simultaneously.
My wife has no idea where her grandmother was born. Can someone please, once, explain that odd, unspeakable fact?
FROM THE TIMES ARCHIVES: 'THE ARMENIAN MASSACRES' The Times, London Oct 11 2007
How The Times reported the story on Friday October 8, 1915
>From The Times, Friday October 8, 1915 THE ARMENIAN MASSACRES EXTERMINATING A RACE A RECORD OF HORRORS
To one who remembers the rejoicings which welcomed the bloodless Turkish Revolution of 1908, the fraternization of Moslem and Christian, the confidence in a better future for the Armenians which survived even the Adana massacre of 1909, the story of the systematic persecution of the Armenians of Turkey is a bitter tale to tell.
Talaat Bey and his extremist allies have out-Hamided Abdul Hamid.
They have even shocked their German friends, thus attaining eminence in "frightfulness" to which the "Red Sultan" never soared.
When the Committee of Union and Progress finally decided to mobilize its forces against the Triple Entente, one of its first steps was to make an end of "all that nonsense about Armenian reforms," as the Grand Vizier styled the latest reform scheme imposed by the Powers.
One of the two European Inspectors-General, who were to watch over the Administration of the six Eastern Provinces of Turkey-in-Asia, had already set forth on his journey, greeted on his way by salaaming officials and escorted by respectful gendarmes. Then came the mobilization of the Turkish Army, and before he had even reached his destination he was bundled off, returning the Constantinople with a minimum of pomp and ceremony. At once occasional raids on Armenian villages began to be reported from the "Six Villayets".
No massacre took place during the Turkish mobilization or the early stages of the Caucasus campaign. It was not until Enver Pasha's Army had invaded Russian territory, and another Turkish force, composed in part of Kurdish irregulars, had invaded Azerbaijan, that massacres began. At Ardahan the Turkish regulars are said by the Russians to have killed 15 civilians during their brief occupation of the town, but their irregular allies and bands of Turkish fedais committed horrible crimes at Oity, Ardanush, Artum, and other places which they occupied, unchecked by the regulars. Armenians were thrown over cliffs, their women violated and abducted, their children frequently Islamised. The invasion of Azerbaijan was attended by similar excesses. The bulk of the Armenian population, after suffering great privations, escaped into Russian territory. According to Russian newspapers and American missionaries, over 2,000 were killed, often by order of Turkish Consuls, in North-West Persia. Kurdish tribesmen committed gruesome atrocities near Bayesid, and, when the worst of the winter was over, began to raid the Armenian villages near Van.
The defeat of Sary Kamish, inflicted by an army which included many Armenians, had infuriated Enver's ruthless temper. The systematic massacre of the 25,000 Armenians of the Bashkala district, of whom less than 10 per cent are said by Russian newspapers to have escaped slaughter or forced conversion, appears to have been ordered and carried out at this period.
The full description of the horrors that ensued along the frontier must be left to our Russian allies. Suffice it to say that late in April the Armenians in the Van district who had collected arms to defend themselves against the Kurds before the war were attacked by Kurds and Turkish gendarmes. In some places they were massacred; in others they more than held their own, and finally they captured the town of Van and took a bloody vengeance on their enemies. Early in May a Russo-Armenian army entered Van.
TALAAT BEY'S POLICY
It is said by the Turks in their defence that the decision to deport the Eastern Armenians was only arrived at after the discovery of an Armenian plot in Constantinople and after the Van outbreak. But the Armenians executed in Constantinople in April were men of the Hintchak society who had been in prison for over a year, and the deportation or massacre of Armenians had begun at many places before the Van Armenians were criminal enough to help themselves. There can be no doubt that Enver, who has never shrunk from violent methods, approved of the policy that was adopted. Commanding officers in the provinces received orders in April and May authorising them to deport all individuals or families whose presence might be regarded as politically or militarily dangerous, and in the case of some of the Cilician Armenians, deportation had begun earlier. But Talaat, who was in all probability the chief mover in the expulsion of Greeks from Western Anatolia, who has never scrupled to lie to an Ambassador or to encourage pro-Turkish intrigue in the dominions of friendly Powers, is the chief author of these crimes. "I intend to prevent any talk of Armenian autonomy for 50 years" and "The Armenians are a...race; their disappearance would be no loss" are sayings attributed to him on excellent authority. He has had worthy supporters among the extremists of the Committee of Union and Progress, such as Mukhlis Bey, Carusso Effendi and his Jewish revolutionary supporters, Midhat Shukri and others, among officials such as the Valis of Diarbekr and Angora, and among the officers of gendarmerie, who, if one-tenth of the tales told by European and American refugees is true, have cast off all trace of the European training which French and British officers laboriously tried to instil in them and have too often become little better than licentious banditti.
Eastern Anatolia, Cilicia, and the Anti-Taurus region have been the scene of the worst cruelties on the part of the authorities and the population. In many cases the massacres were absolutely unprovoked.
Thus at Marsovan, where there is an important American college, the authorities early in June ordered the Armenians to meet outside the town. They surrounded them there and the police and an armed mob killed, according to the Americans, 1,200 of the younger and more active Armenians whom the local Committee leaders and the gendarmerie most feared. The richer Armenians were allowed to avoid death by conversion to Islam, for which doubtful privilege they paid heavily.
The poorer in some cases begged to be allowed to deny their faith and thus save their families, but as they had no money they were killed, or exiled. The younger women were distributed among the rabble. The rest of the community were driven across country to Northern Mesopotamia.
At Angora the Vali arrested the Armenian manager of the Imperial Ottoman Bank, who was sent away in a carriage and killed by the Vali's orders some miles from the town. Mukhlis Bey, a prominent member of the Committee of Union and Progress, then produced an order from the Central Executive of the Committee ordering the slaughter of the most prominent Armenians whether Gregorian or Catholic. The order was served on the Military Commandant, who refused to obey it.
Mukhlis then armed the rabble and 683 unarmed Armenians were killed.
Many were Catholics, whose cruel fate is known to have aroused vigorous protests on the part of the Vatican.
At Bitlis and Mush a large number, according to some accounts 12,000 Armenians, many of them women, are reported to have been shot or drowned. At Sivas, Kaisari, and Diarbekr there were many executions, and several Armenian villages are reported completely wiped out. At Mosul the unhappy Armenians who were brought from the north in gangs were set upon by the mob. Many were killed and turks and Kurds came from as far as the Persian border to buy the women.
At Urfa, where the male Allied subjects formerly resident in Syria and one of two prisoners of war are now interned by Djemal Pasha's orders, the first massacre took place in the third week of August. It was witnessed by the some of the Allied women and children who recently escaped from Syria. An English girl of 10 years of age saw an Armenian's brains blown out and the bodies of women and children burnt with kerosene. Several smaller massacres followed the first outbreak, in which about 150 Armenians were killed. The military took no part in it, but left full freedom to the rabble, who slightly wounded several French prisoners who has been allowed to walk in the town. It is not surprising that the British, French, and Russian women who have escaped from Uría should express the liveliest apprehensions as to the fate of their menfolk prisoners in what is probably the most fanatical town in Turkey, and the scene of the burning of about 6,000 Armenians of both sexes in the Cathedral during the Hamidian massacres.
A DESPERATE RESISTANCE
The massacred Armenians had mostly given up their arms in accordance with the advice of their clergy. At four widely separated places resistance was offered. At Shaban Karahissar in North-East Anatolia, the Armenians took up arms, held off the Turkish troops for some time, and were finally overwhelmed. Some 4,000 were believed to have been killed or sold - the fate of the women and children - at this place. At Kharput, on hearing of the intention of the authorities to deport them, the Armenians rose on June 3, and for a week held the town. They were then overpowered by troops with artillery, and were mostly killed. The outbreak at Zeitun seems to have taken place in March and to have been a very trivial affair. The Armenians of the town of Zeitun, though formerly a turbulent race, handed over the few insurgents to the Turks, hoping thus to be spared, but Fakhry Pasha, the author of the second Adana massacre, nevertheless killed a few of the townsmen on the spot, and may have drafted the rest into labour battalions. The women, children, and infirm were sent to Zor - described by a most competent authority as a "human dustbin" where they are reported to by dying in large numbers.
The Armenians of Jebel Musa were ordered to quit their homes late in July. Believing very naturally that the Turks proposed to make away with them, they rose in revolt to the number of 600. Though poorly provided with arms, they held out for a month against about 4,000 Turkish troops. Their losses were slight. Those of the Turks, who seem to have been troops of inferior quality, are said by refugees from Syria to have amounted to from 300 to 400. The fighting was ruthlessly waged. The Turks carried off some 20 Armenian women and children, and executed 2 prisoners before the Armenian position. The Armenians retaliated by executing a Turkish major, a notable who had plundered one of their villages, and other prisoners whom they took.
Ammunition was running low early in September, and a massacre seemed inevitable when French warships and a British vessel arrived and took off the Armenians to the number of 4,000, mostly women and children.
It may be noted that the only massacres reported in the Arab countries - namely, north of Baghdad, where about 1,000 Armenians are said on Armenian authority to have been killed at the end of their long journey from the North; and at Kebusie, in the Homs district, where a body of 250 Armenian deportees were killed, forcibly converted or, in the case of the girls, sold - were committed by the military, apparently Turks and Kurds.
DEPORTATION OR STARVATION
It remains to describe Talaat Bey's methods in detail. Massacre was followed by a crueller system of persecution than Abdul Hamid ever invented. The Red Sultan's abominations were seldom accompanied by the wholesale deportation of the survivors; the violation and abduction of women and the conversion of children, though sadly frequent in some places, were by no means general in the massacres of 1894-1896. Then the wild beast was allowed to run amok for 24 hours, and was then usually chained up.
In Talaat Bey's campaign the preliminary massacre, which was sometimes omitted, was followed by the separation of the able-bodied men from their women folk. The former were drafted into labour battalions or simply disappeared. The women, children, and old men were next driven slowly across country. They were permitted to take no carts, baggage animals, or any large stock of provisions with them. They were shepherded from place to place by gendarmes, who violated some of the women, sold others, and robbed most. Infirm or aged folk, women great with child, and children were driven along till they dropped and died by the way. Gendarmes who returned to Alexandretta described with glee to Europeans how they robbed the fugitives. If these refused to give up their money their escort sometimes pushed them into streams or abandoned them in desolate places.
A European who witnessed the exodus of some of the Armenians of Cilicia says that most were footsore, all looked half starved, and no able-bodied man could be seen among them. At Osmanic on the road between Aleppo and Adana they were given only 8 hours' notice by the town crier to make ready for their departure. The French and British refugees from Urfa saw the bodies of "hundreds" of women and children lying by the road and met another of these lamentable half-starved caravans. An American who accompanied a group of Armenian exiles from Malatia reports that the road to Urfa was marked all along its course by the bodies of those who had died. Travellers by the Anatolian Railway report that the hills near Bilejik Geive, and other stations in the hinterland of Brusa were crowded with Armenians from Brusa, Ismid, and other settlements near Constantinople, who had no shelter and were begging their bread. Large bodies of the exiles are said to have been simply led into the desert south of the Euphrates and left there to starve.
THE TALLEST POPPIES
The policy which lost the Committee leaders Macedonia and is as old as King Tarquin, seems to have been revived by Talaat. Just who had been amnestied fell frequent victims to the bravi of the Committee, so now the Armenians who had cooperated most loyally with the Turkish Revolutionaries were among the first to feel the weight of Talaat's hand.
Haladijian Effendi, ex-Minister of Public Works, was arrested in Constantinople after the discovery of an alleged Armenian plot, and in spite of his friendly relations with the Committee, of which he was a member, and his friendship with Talaat and Djavid Beys, was hurried into Anatolia, where he has disappeared. It is not known whether he is dead or alive. Garo Pasdermatjian, who took part in the attack on the Imperial Ottoman Bank in 1896, and was one of Talaat's intimates, was also arrested. So were Vartkes, as popular a member of the Turkish Chamber of Deputies as Pasdermatjian, Aghnuni, the very able leader if the Dashnakist Society in Constantinople, Zohrab Effendi, M.P for Constantinople, an able but unpopular lawyer, who belonged to the Committee Party, Vartan Papazian, and other Armenians, several of whom were members of Parliament.
According to Armenian refugees from Syria, whose story is largely borne out by independent evidence, several of the prisoners arrived at Urfa in July. They were there entertained to dinner by the Chief of Police, who during the meal received a telegram from the Vali of Diarbekr bidding him send the prisoners to Diarbekr at once. They started before midnight, and early next morning were killed on the way by 'brigands'. Zohrab is known to have met his fate there, and it is believed that Aghuni, Vartkes, Papazian and Pasdermatiijian died with him. Of Aghnuni's death and that of Vartkes and Papazian there seems no doubt. A number of priests and at least one bishop were reported executed by military courts.
WOMEN AND CHILDREN SOLD
Torture has been frequently used in the case of Armenian prisoners and suspects. The sale by Bird's police of Armenian children of both sexes to the keepers of disorderly houses and Turks of bad moral character has provoked protest in Constantinople. The object of the conversion of children reported from some districts and the very general sale of women and girls appears to be political. Foreigners believe that Talaat has countenanced these crimes with the object of breaking up the strong social structure of the Armenian community in Turkey.
There are Turcophils who aver that the Armenians do not really object to such proceedings. One is reminded of a youthful and "highly well-born" traveller who, returning from Macedonia in the days of band warfare, reported as proof of Ottoman lenity that he had seen Slav girls dancing with Turkish irregulars. This cruel comedy had, of course, been arranged by an officer of gendarmerie, for the average Christian peasant girl in Macedonia would as soon dance with a Turk as an Anglo-Indian lady would consent to divert an Afghan with the danse du ventre. The belief that Armenians "do not mind" is a cruel falsehood. The Armenian woman of the country towns is nowadays often quite well educated and always strictly brought up, and her sufferings are doubtless as great as those of the average English or French farmer's daughter would be were she subjected to similar cruelty.
GERMAN AND TURKISH PROTESTS
The attempts of the American Ambassador to procure some alleviation of the lot of Armenians have thus far proved unsuccessful. Mr Morganthau, in the opinion of good observers, wasted too much diplomatic energy on behalf of the Zionists of Palestine, who were in no danger of massacre, to have any force to spare. Talaat and Bedri simply own that persecuting Armenians amuses them and turn a deaf ear to American pleadings. German and Austro-Hungarian residents in Turkey at first approved of the punishment of Armenian "traitors", but the methods of the Turkish extremists have sickened even Prussian stomachs. True the Jewish Baron von Oppendeim, now in Syria, has been preaching massacre, and the German Consular officials al Aleppo and Alexandretta have followed suit, perhaps with the idea of planting German colonists in the void left b the disappearance of the Armenians when the war is over. But the German Government has grown nervous. On August 31 the German and Austro-Hungarian Ambassadors protested to the Grand Vizier against the massacre of Armenians and demanded a written communication to the effects that neither of the Government had any connexion with these crimes. Turkey has not, so far, given her Allies a certificate of unblemished character, and the bestowal of the Ordro pour la Merite on Envor Pahsa by the Kaiser is not likely to give the impression that Germany is in earnest.
There has been some Turkish protests against these abominations. The Turks of Aintab refused to permit the exile of the local Armenians.
One of the Turkish Provincial Governors-General, who name had best not be mentioned lest he be transferred to another post - or world - has saved many exiles from starvation. Rahmi Boy, the bold Vali of Smyrna who has treated the interned British and French residents of the town right well, has repeatedly protested to the Porto against these crimes and has refused to hand over suspected Armenians for trial. The Sheikh-ul-Islam has salved his conscience by a tardy resignation, and Djahid and Djavid Boys have uttered plaintive protests when it was too late. In a few days' time Parliament will meet and Talaat and his colleagues will then explain and defend their Armenian policy to the House. One can imagine what line their defence will follow - the necessity of securing national unity at this critical hour, the importance of checking dangerous and unpatriotic agitation, the deplorable crimes committed by the Armenians, the sufferings of tortured Muslims under British and Russian rule, and much more rhetoric of this kind. One cannot, unfortunately, imagine the Chamber of Deputies refusing to vote the fullest confidence in Talaat and Enver. Massacres will probably cease and the Armenians to be left to starve quietly.