Yes Turkey, it was Genocide — Vive la France!

December 23, 2011

Yesterday, we received the news from around the world that France’s lower house of Parliament voted to criminalize denial of the Armenian Genocide. Of course, Turkey’s Prime Minister went ballistic. In his tirade against France, Erdogan accused the French of stifling free speech. Ironically (of course), as the New York Times correctly noted, “Turkey’s own penal code makes affirming the genocide a crime on the grounds that it is an insult to Turkish identity. In March, Orhan Pamuk, a Nobel Prize winner, was fined 7,000 lira, about $3,700, for his statement in a Swiss newspaper that ‘we have killed 30,000 Kurds and 1 million Armenians’.”

As new information concerning the Armenian Genocide occurs, I do my best to report it in this blog in a timely manner. However, yesterday, I was increasingly frustrated as I read articles published in the world’s leading newspapers, most using language which obfuscate the truth about the history of the first genocide occuring in the 20th century. There are official volumes (archives full) of the facts of Turkey’s systematic killing of between 1 and 1.5 million Armenians under the cover of World War I.

Turkish historian Taner Akcam has documented the motivation for this genocide in his master work, “A Shameful Act“. Basically, in addition to racial hatred of the non-Turkish, non-Muslim Armenian Christian minority, Turkey coveted the land the Armenians occupied for thousands of years. The Turkish government also saw an opportunity to create an instant Muslim, middleclass by taking all of the Armenians’ properties and belongings and redistributing the ‘bootie’ (including houses) to its Muslim population.

During the genocide, the United States Ambassador to Turkey was Henry Morgenthau. In his first-person account of the Armenian Genocide, he recalls a conversation with one of the masterminds of the genocide, Talaat Pasha:

One day Talaat made what was perhaps the most astonishing request I had ever heard.  The New York Life Insurance Company and the Equitable Life of New York had for years done considerable business among the Armenians.  The extent to which this people insured their lives was merely another indication of their thrifty habits.  “I wish,” Talaat now said, “that you would get the American Life insurance companies to send us a complete list of their Armenian policy holders.  They are practically dead now and have left no heirs to collect the money.  If … all escheats to the State, the Government is the beneficiary now. Will you do so?”

This was almost too much, and I lost my temper.  “You will get no such list from me,” I said, and I got up and left him.

Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story, p. 339. [Source]

In addition to the records in government archives in the U.S., France, Germany, and Great Britain, there was an unprecedented humanitarian relief effort spearheaded by Evangelical and Catholic missionaries, who went to heroic lengths to save the Armenians. Many relief workers documented what they witnessed in Turkey, in brutal detail. There are thousands of eyewitness accounts and so much scholarly work on this subject, that the veracity of the facts cannot be disputed.

However, the Turkish government spends millions of dollars each year to lobby lawmakers in the United States and countries all over the world to vote against recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Turkey has also infiltrated some of the world’s leading universities, ensuring books about the Armenian Genocide are not available in their libraries and endowing chairs. The effort and amount of disinformation Turkey continues to manufacture about the Armenian Genocide is astonishing.

We owe a great debt of gratitude to the French government for standing up and saying no to Turkey. It is unlikely the United States and Israel will suddenly become enlightened with moral clarity, but one can always hope.


Armenian Genocide recognition a reality or fantasy in US, GB and Israel?

April 29, 2010

This past weekend, there were commemorations in cities around the world honoring the memories of the 1.5 million souls who did not survive the Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Turks 95 years ago. There seems to be an unprecedented groundswell concerning the issue of recognizing the Armenian Genocide over the past year. I believe this is directly related to the attention brought to this history as the world’s powers tried in vain to bring Armenia and Turkey together to talk peace.

Simplifying the matter, the issue of opening the borders between the two countries is in the interests of government and business leaders because they wish to run a pipeline through a less costly route than is possible at this moment in time (with Turkey and Armenia in a stalemate). At the time of the Genocide, the US, France, and Great Britain sent aid and intervened only up to a point. But, since it wasn’t in the Great Powers’ interests to do more, they withdrew. Last week, Armenia withdrew from participating in the Protocols and will not return until the terms of the deal truly serve Armenia’s interests as much as every other interested party.

Ironically, Great Britain and the US have not recognized the Armenian Genocide, because that would insult Turkey, and apparently, they clearly believe that is not in our best interests. Nor has Israel.  [See the related article links below.] But, it important to state that to France’s credit, the Armenian Genocide is recognized by their country.

Perhaps if everyone could look inside their hearts and stop listening to Turkey’s politicians and paid lobbyists, they might see that honoring the past (by calling it what it is), would free everyone to move forward, allowing us all to look toward the future in good faith with the beginning of at least a sense of mutual trust. Recognizing genocide is in everyone’s best interests.

Turkish Diplomat: US May Recognize Armenian Genocide in October
Huliq | April 27, 2010

Armenian Genocide issue on Knesset agenda
Public Radio of Armenia www.armradio.am | April 29, 2010


Thoughts about Armenian Genocide denial

April 12, 2010

In his Slate article, Christopher Hitchens writes:

“April is the cruelest month for the people of Armenia, who every year at this season have to suffer a continuing tragedy and a humiliation. The tragedy is that of commemorating the huge number of their ancestors who were exterminated by the Ottoman Muslim caliphate in a campaign of state-planned mass murder that began in April 1915. The humiliation is of hearing, year after year, that the Turkish authorities simply deny that these appalling events ever occurred or that the killings constituted ‘genocide’.”

But, the more I read, the more I’m beginning to think that the Turkish government is humiliating its own countrymen and further damaging its country’s reputation in the eyes of the world. Armenians don’t need Turkey to validate our history. We know what happened, as does most of the world.

The problem is that denial of the Armenian Genocide is hurtful and harmful. It is my sincerest wish that the remaining Armenian Genocide survivors could hear Turkey’s apology in their lifetime. But, that is not realistic. Especially, as long as nations, including the United States, Great Britain and Israel continue to look the other way as Turkey continues its multi-million dollar annual campaign to spread disinformation. The leaders of the world must muster up their moral courage and stand up to Turkey (as President Obama had promised he would when he was Senator Obama).

Read Hitchen’s article:

Shut Up About Armenians or We’ll Hurt Them Again—Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s latest sinister threat
Slate | April 5, 2010



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