Canadian Turks Should Condemn, Not Condone, Genocide Denial

Harut Sassounian


Canadian Turks launched a petition last month seeking the removal of all references to the Armenian Genocide from the 11th grade curriculum of Toronto high schools.

This petition is a part of Turkish denialists’ long-standing efforts to reverse the Toronto District School Board’s (TDSB) 2008 decision to educate students about the Armenian, Jewish, and Rwandan genocides. TDSB’s action follows the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the Canadian Senate in 2002 and the House of Commons in 2004. In addition, since 2006, successive Canadian Prime Ministers have issued official annual statements acknowledging the Armenian Genocide, despite intensive political pressure and economic blackmail by the Turkish government.

Back in 2008, a similar Turkish petition failed to sway TDSB to amend the genocide curriculum, after gathering over 11,000 signatures, mostly from Turkey. Indeed, the Ankara government and its Turkish proxies in Toronto have done everything possible during the past seven years to undermine this curriculum.

Below are the baseless claims made by the Turkish petition against TDSB’s genocide curriculum, followed by my rebuttal:

— Turkish Petition: “As the Turkish/Turkic speaking parents of students attending the Toronto District School Board, we are deeply concerned about the negative impact of the current curriculum module on ‘Armenian Genocide’ and the learning resources adopted by the Board since 2008.”

My response: There has been NO violence or intimidation against a single Turkish student in Toronto schools even though the genocide curriculum has been taught there for several years. The reason is that Armenians do not hold today’s Turks responsible for the crimes committed by the Government of Ottoman Turkey almost 100 years ago, except those who associate themselves with these crimes by their denial. The Republic of Turkey, on the other hand, as successor to the Ottoman Empire, is responsible for the continuing consequences of the Armenian Genocide. Denying the facts of the Genocide has a far more serious negative psychological impact on Armenians than its inclusion in the curriculum on Turks. Furthermore, the truth cannot be concealed in order not to offend the sensibilities of those who wish to cover up historical facts. Would anyone advocate erasing all references to the Jewish Holocaust from history books not offend present-day Germans?

— Turkish Petition: “The textbook on the Genocide of the Armenians and other readers, such as Barbara Coloroso’s Extraordinary Evil, unremittingly discredits one community’s narrative over the other; and, adversely affects the students of TDSB with Turkish and Turkic heritages.”

My response: There cannot be two narratives or two versions of the proven facts of the Armenian Genocide. There can only be one version — the truth!

— Turkish Petition: “We firmly believe that the values of mutual respect, understanding and peaceful coexistence can be achieved through an honest and open dialogue on history. Moreover, fair and unprejudiced learning should be based on historical facts and not solely on the narratives of select communities while ignoring others. It should also be noted that there are no court decisions on any of these historical claims and the opinions of historians differ regarding the details and the definitions of these events.”

My response: ‘Mutual respect, understanding and peaceful coexistence’ cannot be achieved through distortions and lies. Only after acknowledging the truth and making appropriate amends, Canadian Turks can talk about such lofty ideals. Furthermore, contrary to the Turkish claims, there are several court verdicts on the Armenian Genocide, starting with the Turkish Military Tribunals of 1919, and judgments by Argentinean, Swiss, and U.S. courts. Significantly, the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities adopted in 1985 a report acknowledging the Armenian Genocide. The ultimate arbiter of any genocide is the United Nations, since the Genocide Convention is a UN document.

To sum up, this latest Turkish petition is a total failure since its initiator, the Federation of Canadian Turkish Associations, has so far collected less than 2,000 signatures out of a claimed membership of 200,000 in Canada. Interestingly, most of the signatories are not from Canada, but Turkey where the petition has been widely circulated.

A more worthwhile initiative for Canadian Turks would be to start a petition urging the Turkish government to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and make proper restitution to the descendants of this heinous crime on the occasion of the Genocide’s Centennial.

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  1. GB said:

    I wonder sometimes why “civilized Turks” run away from Turkey and why once they become citizens of their newly adopted country, all of sudden become professional Armenian Genocide deniers!!

  2. gerard said:

    we think that canadian turks should go back to their backward country turkey, (but not on thanksgiving) and sign their petition from there. they don’t contribute anything to canada, how did they get here anyways, through their usual lies I suppose. just leave, you are a constant nuissance, you’re polluting the land with your smoking and funny language.

    • Adnan said:

      Thank you for proving your racism and bigotry. Whatever you guys achieve with your “Genocide Recognition” will never make you guys happy. You guys will always be stuck with this “Victim Mentality” and everyone will be annoyed of you guys and no one will simply care what you think and in the future, people of all races will tell you to “Shut Up and Get Over It”. No one cares about 1915. Live for the future and quit dwelling on the past and quit whining like babies and spreading hate. Nothing will satisfy you guys and you will live with hate and Turkophobia for the rest of your lives. Not even Taner Akcam and Orhan Pamuk will heal your hate and bigotry. Keep on hating! We love it! It will backfire on you guys!

      • GB said:

        Adnan Oghlooo, the whole world is laughing how the Turks remain as turk!!Do you have right English dictionary??

      • GeorgeMardig said:

        to Adnan: Armenians are not interested in the “Victim Mentality” you said, they know who the Turks are, what they want is to recover what was stolen from them. Armenian’s know morally most Turks are bankrupt and don’t mind to enjoy what is not theirs even if they are called thieves and assasins of women, elederly and children, Armenians don’t want pity nor vengeance, only they need that Turkey respect their agreement brokered by the 28th President of the United States. Woodrow Wilson

  3. boghos jermag said:

    Canadian Turks, Turkish Turks, Azeris, Ara Manoogian, and Policy Forum Armenia share the same goals of isolating Armenia and its Diaspora.

  4. GeorgeMardig said:

    Turks will stay the same, old generation new generation they are the same sht, they have it in their genes.

  5. Silva Kechichian said:

    As a Canadian I am so proud to say that finally recognizing the Armenian Genocide made me realized this is true government of people with diversity…I urge the government of Canada to keep recognizing all unjustices that happen around the world whether in the past or in the upcoming future… turks are turks and always will be doing everything in their power to stop it from being recognized …..Please do not fall for it whether it is political or not always remember the woman and the children and the families of 1.5 million murdered armenians ….always remember the people…Thank you!

  6. David Warner said:

    The Toronto District School Board is to be commended for tackling the difficult subject of genocide. While it may be painful for those descendents of genocide perpetrators, nonetheless confronting the ugly parts of history is part of the healing process and can assist in developing a deeper understanding of one another. Canadians have had to confront horrible chapters in our history; the Chinese Head Tax, internment of Japanese Canadians, Residential Schools for aboriginal children. By facing the truth hopefully we will ultimately be a stronger nation.

  7. Garo Yeghichian said:

    We all know how shifty are turks and how good they are on Bribery.Did any procautions was taken before this Court case,?

  8. Sevan Kelian said:

    Blind racism to Turks is absolutely ridiculous. I have many Turkish friends and they are wonderful people, and not one of them deny the genocide. My mother’s best friend is Turkish and studied in Armenia with her and speaks fluent Armenian. It’s the Ottomans who did this, not modern day Turks. The Pan-Turkist Nationalism in present day Turkey is on par with Nazi mentality. No race is better than another race, to name yourself superior to another is ignorant and hurtful. Armenians shouldn’t demonize an entire race and Turks should stop putting themselves on a pedestal and being outraged at Civilized multicultural societies acknowledging a genocide that did in fact happen. What we need is a Truth Reconciliation, as post Apartheid South Africa had.