Armenians, on the same day as Gallipoli

Armenians, on the same day as Gallipoli

Among outstanding Armenian politicians and intellectuals, 235 of them were arrested in Istanbul on April 24, 1915; their fate is unknown. Armenian religious leaders sent a telegram to the U.S. president, “Turks are slaughtering Armenians.” Thus the date April 24 is adopted as the alleged genocide date. 

The same day, the British navy is at Gallipoli; the British have pledged the Armenians an “Independent Armenia.” The Ottoman Empire went to war in October 1914; in East Anatolia, a lot many Armenian soldiers within the Ottoman Army switched to the army of the tsar. This was a rebellion. The first Armenian prime minister, Hovhannes Katchaznouni, confirmed this: “The British invasion boosted our hopes; we formed our volunteer troops against the Ottoman army.”

The ruling Party of Union and Progress decided on the deportation of 700,000 to 800,000 Armenians; and whatever happened actually happened at that time. More than half of the Armenians were not able to reach their destinations; it was a human tragedy.  

Grand Vizier Ahmet Tevfik Pasha, after the signing of the Armistice of Mudros on Oct. 30, 1918, decided to investigate the Armenian deportation. He suggested a commission with representatives from Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands and Switzerland. However, the United Kingdom, which wanted to keep the Armenian issue under its control, blocked the investigation. 

Nevertheless, a court martial was formed and it decided that 1,400 Armenians were “lost and maltreated” during the deportation. Some officials were jailed; there were also some hangings. 

The first leader to call on both the Turkish and Armenian historians to “face the truth” was Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit in 1978. 

The Turkish History Society in 1989 and in 2009, and Istanbul University in 2006 made similar calls for historians to get together. Armenia did not respond to the calls; it did not accept the suggestion of “Let us form a commission made up of Turkish, Armenian and third-country historians.” Turkey opened its Ottoman archives for “fact finding.” The Armenian archive in Boston should also be opened. Without opening the archives, without forming commissions made up of historians, how do you expect “fact-finding” to occur? 

There are 8 million Armenians living in the world; 3 million are in Armenia; 2.5 million are in Russia, 1.5 million are in the United States and 600,000 are in France. These figures explain why Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President François Hollande both pronounce “genocide” and participate in the ceremonies in Yerevan. 

The Armenians accelerated their “genocide” propaganda after the 1960s. U.S. President Ronald Reagan used the word genocide in his message in 1984; other presidents didn’t. The European Parliament which said “genocide” this year, in a decision it made in 1987, said the Turkey of today could not be held responsible for the tragedy the Ottoman Armenians experienced. In the case that this historic incident was defined as a genocide, no political, legal or material demands should be directed against today’s Republic of Turkey. 

Turkey closed its land border with Armenia on April 3, 1993. In October 2009, in Zurich, a protocol was signed between Turkey and Armenia, with the participation of Russian, U.S. and EU representatives for the “opening of the border and setting up of a commission of historians.”

However, both countries did not approve the protocol in their parliaments. 
I accept the Armenian tragedy; I share their pain. I expect our pain to be accepted also. I find it ridiculous to wait for another 100 years to “mutually face up to the facts.”