Friday, October 12, 2007

Turkey and the Question of the Armenian Genocide

Today's newspapers report that Turkey summoned back its ambassador from Washington on Thursday night in reaction to the US congressional vote labelling the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide. Adopted by the House of Representatives foreign affairs committee in a 27-21 vote on Wednesday, the non-binding resolution is now to go to the full House in the next few weeks. Interestingly, the Bush administration is opposing the resolution fears the measure will further damage an already strained relationship. If the resolution does get through, this will mark the first time that the USA has in any way recognised the Armenian genocide.

Western scholars that over 500,000 Armenians perished between 1914 and 1918, though Turkey insistst that the figure is "only" around 300,000, while others (mainly Armenians themselves) estimate the number who were killed in these years at 1,500,000. However, the Armenian Genocide is best understood, not as having begun in 1914, but rather as "an ongoing genocide, from 1896, through 1908/9, through World War I and right up to 1923" as the scholar Y Bauer put it in his leaflet, "Can Genocides be Prevented?"

Turkey view is that though hundreds of thousands of Ottoman Armenians were killed, this was due to the collapse of the Ottoman empire and in any case was before the Republic of Turkey was created. But it rejects the idea of genocide and insists that the victims died because of war, hunger, and displacement.

Whatever the facts, it should be obvious that scholarly investigation and debate are the route to unearthing them. But Turkey not only silences domestic debate but even threatens non-Turks who wish to investigate or discuss whatever happened. Cengiz Aktar, an academic and commentator in Istanbul, said: “Turkey has made this a question of honour but it has no other policy. We were more flexible on this issue 20 years ago than we are today.”

Perhaps this is an inevitable result of the rise of Islamic fervour - and those Europeans who wish to encourage Turkey to become a part of Europe need to stop pulling the wool over their eyes as well as trying to do so over the eyes of the rest of the world.

It is only when Turkey is willing to stop indulging in infantile denial and starts being willing to look at ugly facts and then take remedial action, including apologies and restitutions as necessary, that Turkey will be fit to become a member of the European Union. Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Muslims Against Sharia commend House Democrats and Speaker Pelosi for pressing ahead with an Armenian genocide bill. Republican opposition to the bill is pure manifestation of moral relativism.
Muslims Against Sharia condemn Turkish government for refusing to acknowledge Armenian genocide and recalling its US ambassador in response to the bill.

Source: AFP