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thehandsom 25 Jun 2010

Armenian Question -IV- Final

Trying to invent a new history for yourself is a dead end./ what is next?

"In history, the denial politics and trying to invent a new history for yourself is a dead end. "

Hasan Cemal (writer, journalist) 


Let’s look again what I tried to describe so far regarding the Armenian problem:

- Turkey and its taboo subjects, and the necessity to talk about these taboo subjects from democracy point of view..

- Armenian problem as the ultimate taboo .

- 1 in 10 people perished from Anatolia, yet, we still did not want to open the subject.

- Level of brutality; killing people with axes; with reaping hooks; with stones; they got killed on the side of the roads, next to rivers.. etc.

- Violation of Anatolian/Turkish war ethics!!

Then we moved on to the end of 19th century and talked about:

- lost wars; displaced people; immigrants; Turkish nationalism; western hatred; the "Young Turks";

The column number III was about the event itself and the time period leading to the decision of techir/deportation/liquidation (I have to admit..I could/should have written about those issues in a more descriptive way)

- The psychology of the rulers at the time, how they failed miserably on all fronts, and how they prepared everything for that "shameful event". We learnt how they restructured the special unit Teskilati Mahsusa for this task a year earlier. We also saw the testimonies from the trials in Ottoman courts, how some of the governors refused to implement the orders from the central government, and those deportations meant liquidation and massacre.


We learnt that almost all of Armenians were deported, including women children and sick, including the ones living in the Western part of Anatolia - people who had nothing to do with the war.

And the result was:

- Almost 1.000.000 Armenians were subjected to forced deportation. We don’t know the exact figure but a large number of people were destroyed (the number of people who got killed ranges from none to 800.000)


Anyway, after this little summary, I would like to talk about what is now ahead of us

Is there any other example of a similar event in the history of the world?

It is unimaginable that the rulers of a country, which has 70 million people and wants to be a regional power, are biting on their fingernails every year on the 24th of April. Why: because they are wondering whether the president of the USA will use the word ´genocide or not!! If he does not use that word, everybody is happy and says ´thanks god, we have gone through another year. The president of USA uses many other heavy words to describe the events of 1915, but that doesn’t matter.. As long as he does not use the word ´genocide´ we are happy and content!!


And if other countries try to recognize the events of 1915 as genocide, we threaten them with economic sanctions.. And when they pull these recognitions back (or their president/pm makes a negative comment about that recognition or upholds that decision etc), we think of ourselves as successful.. But what sort of success is that exactly? Success in "how good of a bully we are"? Is it the case that we go to these countries and explain what happened and then changed their minds. No.. We don’t.. We threaten them..


Have we managed to persuade any country in the world with our thesis? The answer is a huge NO..

Lets look at what we have been saying so far to the world at different times:

"Nothing happened in 1915"

"it was a relocation"

"if something happened, Armenians did it"

"it happened but it was a reciprocation"

"They betrayed us and what could we do? We had to respond"

Do we Turks really believe that we can persuade anybody in the world with above rhetoric?

What do you think is coming next? What do you think we will be saying to the world 5-10 years later..?

We behave as if the world consisted only of Turkey.  When we say "WHITE", it does not matter if the rest of the world says "NO.. IT IS NOT WHITE BUT BLACK".

What is known in the world about this subject is what the truth is, and just because we / Turks - are saying that ´nothing happened, is not changing the truth. That is a fact!!

The way we Turks react to this issue is, of course, a completely different ball game!! The level of our reaction alone makes many people think: ´Gosh, are they trying to hide something?´

People who watch us/Turks from the outside - when there is a debate about this issue - would not guess that we are talking about a historical event but they think that we were in war with Armenia RIGHT NOW and that Armenians are killing Turks.


Turkey is changing however...The change inside the borders of Turkey is immense. Changing the constitution; abolishing shameful 301; challenging the army´s role in Turkish politics; more freedom about almost anything; talking about minority rights; talking openly about Kurdish Problem without risking to go to jail etc might be seen as normal actions in the west but they are really important for Turkey. Apart from these positive changes, people are talking about these events; reading; learning about these things and the Armenian Issue is one of them. There was even a small group this year they had a remembrance day in Taksim square. Another positive change in Turkey is of course about ´the confidence in being able to face our own history´. We have been afraid of it for so long.. We have had a huge fear about our past. Humiliation of WW1; how big we were once and now we are not; questioning the credibility of our heroes; continuation of ideas from 1915 to our new republic; how could we do this; shame; anger. They are all in one package which we did not have enough confidence to face  so far. But now, some people beginning to realise ´History of Turks without mentioning Kurds and Armenians in it will be like the history of America without the natives; history of Germany without the Jews´.

We simply can not invent a new history for ourselves..


The world is changing too and there is no way of continuing to live with the illusion that we are the only people in the world (well, that might be possible if we were like North Korea). So in my opinion, as far as the Armenian problem is concerned, I think we are approaching a culminating moment. I think that this issue won’t be a problem anymore in the coming years. (Obviously, we could not persuade the world with our thesis. Year after year, the number of countries accepting the event of 1915 as a genocide is increasing..) 

I think there are some people in the Foreign Ministry who see that this is not a way in which we can continue. Something has to change. Something has to change because of the constant burden of humiliation the foreign ministry personnel face in  first hand.

I think the resolution from USA House of Representatives´ Foreign Affairs committee, labelling the 1915 massacre of Armenians a "genocide" could be a turning point as far as the external elements are concerned (and of course, killing of Hrant Dink was its internal counterpart).

This can create a domino effect in many countries which were holding their decisions.. (I have to point out that Sweden came just after USA).

Considering in 2015 will be the 100th years of Armenian events in Anatolia, I think, we have to be ready for a barrage of decisions from many countries..


Anyway. Lets finish this with a great folk song which belongs to all of us..


(Yavuz Bingöl) Sari Gelin

Kardes Türküler - Sari Gyalin (Sari Gelin)

Matevosyan - Vard sireci (Sari aghjik) 


Sari Gelin, translations in wiki

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