Don't Give Them the Upper Hand

Cemil Ozyurt
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The Armenian genocide allegation is one the leading questions that Turks living in US respond to. The claim is that Armenians, between one to two million in number, had been massacred. Responding to this claim with “they were not killed systematically but lost their lives during a war,” became a vicious cycle.
Some news reported 800 thousand, others, such as New York Times, talk about 1 million people being deported. That is the reality, and we have to acknowledge this; people died. It doesn’t matter whether it’s one million or 300 thousand. It doesn’t matter if you say, “We didn’t do it deliberately,” or “It happened against our will,” or “It happened during a war.”

Of course the Armenians are trying to prove that the government ordered the killings. No evidence of such an order can be substantiated. If there were such an order, why wasn’t it put into practice in Istanbul?

To resolve this issue, both sides have to show courage and make efforts to illuminate what happened. Recently, the current Turkish government and the opposition party have shown this courage. The Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the leader of the opposition party proposed to “open the archives and invite an independent commission to investigate the issue.” The proposal was swiftly refused by the Armenian Minister for Foreign Affairs Vartan Oskanyan (1). If we are aiming to shed light on this issue, this is a historical opportunity. But if you say this fisherman’s fight is what we want, it never will come to an end.  

I don’t believe that apologizing for what happened during the deportation of Armenians to Syria in 1915 is a big issue. I say the same to my Armenian friends. “I am not responsible for the things that happened and apologize for the things that happened.” Is this being naïve? Am I passing trump cards to the opposing side? No! If there is an injustice, you can not succeed by trying to avoid giving any benefits to the other side.  

I believe that it is also important to look into the issue of who is earning what on both sides by keeping this issue active. Are there any people who make a living off this issue by ripping off governments? Who are doing business by inciting hatred? If this issue is brought to a conclusion how are these people going to survive? It doesn’t matter how much it is not taken into consideration, the Armenian genocide claims have become a big industry.

Before writing this editorial, I surfed the internet and read many web-sites supporting both sides. The atmosphere is becoming tenser the closer we get to April 24th, the date the deportations started. Both sides are organizing demonstrations. Armenian youth are organizing a walk from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., and Turkish institutions are planning to hold similar activities in Washington, D.C.

If you look at history only from your own perspective, you cannot avoid error. If you don’t stop at the Turkish Consulate-General and remember Hon. Kemal Arikan, who was killed by Harry Sasunyan and Kirkor Saliba on January 18th, 1982; or if you are not sensible enough to remember the people killed and burned in Hocali in Azerbaijan, you will be organizing many, many walks from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. Killing is killing. You have to believe that “you don’t support the opposite side by apologizing.” At the end of the day, human beings were killed, and you cannot ignore this fact because of the nationality of the dead.

Today, an African- American is the Secretary of State in US, in a country where black and white children couldn’t attend the same school until 1954. What happened to Native Americans is recounted in schoolbooks. But what happened in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 is still not clear. Until both sides decide to show the courage to untie this knot, there will be many walks, protests, and proposals made. We will be looking back and struggling with the wars, starvation, poverty, and the chaos of the 20th Century, instead looking forward to the 21st.  The year 2200 will come, and the Armenians will be touring countries, shouting “Accept the genocide” chants while we will be defending ourselves and saying, “What genocide? We didn’t do it.”

The important question today is President Bush’s speech on April 24th. In a way it also will be a major test of the importance of Turkey in the US international policy after the March 1st, 2003 voting. In 2000, former president Bill Clinton did not sign the genocide bill proposal, which had passed the sub-committees, and the issue was laid to rest. Many things have changed in the last five years. Moreover, we didn’t have an opportunity to test the friendly attitude in Congress. We will see the results of this test soon.

Whatever you might test, I call my brother Ara whenever I’m in trouble or my friend Serna whenever I like to have a cup of coffee…. I don’t have the luxury to waste my time on the past, discussing “if the Armenian genocide happened or not.” I am looking forward to the future. Together as brothers and human beings. The ones who don’t want to do the same can continue with their cock-fights.

(“Armenian Refusal to Confront History”; Nerdun Hacioglu- Moscow; Milliyet; March 11th, 2005)

(April 2005, 16th Issue)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07