Friday, March 5, 2010

Turkey and Genocide

Turkey has threatened to sever ties with the US if the 1915 (- 1923) Genocide is recognized by the US. This has been a sore point for Turkey ever since the events occurred in 1915. In fact they even blocked the filming of Hans Werfel's book "The 40 days of Musa Dagh" (a novel published in 1933 using the 1915 Genocide as its background) for about 40 years because of the bad light it cast upon Turkey. In 1915, The American Ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau Sr., described the massacres as a "campaign of race extermination". Germany, Turkey's ally, was just as critical of the Genocide according to German engineers, workers and embassy staff. German Armin Wegner was a military medic who documented the atrocities via photographs . Truth of the matter is that the 1915 "Re-location" (which was Turkey's euphemism for the 1915 Atrocity just as Hitler later called his mass murder of Jews "The Final Solution"...He learned well from Turkey) was not the only mass killing of Christians but it was Turkey's most successful. There were also the Hamidian Massacres (in 1894-1896) and the Adana Massacre (in 1909).

I have to admit to having more than a just little interest on this subject because my mother Areknas (Helen in English) Garber (nee Vartanian) is Armenian. In fact my Grandmother (Aroxy Shanazarian) fled Armenia because of the continuing persecution at age 13 in 1922 on the condition she marry Abraham Vartanian . She survived because she was visiting an aunt who lived on the coast away from the "Re-Location". When you drive Christians, mostly women and children, through deserts and over mountains of one Islamic country to another Islamic country (Syria), you are lucky to have anyone left to re-locate (which was the plan all along). Most died of exposure, starvation and diseases, like Typhus, but many were sadistically raped and murdered by Muslims (Turks, Kurds and Syrians) along the way.

The Turks claimed the 1915 "Re-location" was due to an Armenian revolt in support of Russia. Although some Armenians did side with Russia (due to previous atrocities and the fact that Armenia was physically located inside both countries), truth is Enver Pasha needed a scapegoat. The Turks had been defeated by the Russians at Sarikamish in the Caucuses in an attempt to recover land previously lost to Russia. So the Armenians were removed, along with Coptic Greeks and Assyrians, because they were, for the most part, Christian.

I see no difference between this Christian massacre and Hitler's "Final Solution" other than the higher numbers of the Holocaust. Both were directed at people due to their Religion (Judaism is a not a race) and both need to be remembered. I feel a lot of empathy with Jews and really don't understand some Jewish resistance at declaring the 1915 acts as Genocide. After all, if the Armenian Genocide had not been swept under the rug by Turkey, Hitler may have thought twice about performing his Final Solution. To Barrack Hussein Obama I say, go ahead and don't support the Congressional declaration, but remember this about our Great Ally Turkey. Their Government would not allow American troops to "invade" Iraq after indicating they would. Oh yeah, and also remember that Turkey wants the US to ensure that the NOW pesky Kurds don't want to declare freedom and lands of their own out of Northern Iraq. Turkey fears that their Kurds might want to join free Kurds across the border. I wonder why they feel that way, don't you Barack?

March 24th is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day and I hope that we Armenians can finally remember a Genocide not merely a re-location. Oh, I forgot to mention that the Law professor who coined the term "Genocide", Raphael Lambkin, claimed to have had the Armenians in mind at the time.

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