Turkish Scholar Affirms: Turkey has Lost Battle for the Truth

Harut Sassounian


BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN

In recent years, a growing number of Turkish intellectuals, scholars, journalists and human rights activists have taken bold positions on the Armenian Genocide, in opposition to their government’s denials. Although their number is small and their influence on Pres. Erdogan negligible, the fight for truth and justice has to be carried on two fronts: within and outside Turkey. Hopefully, over time, the ranks of such liberal Turks would enlarge, forcing their government to implement reforms on a variety of issues, including the Armenian Genocide.

These progressive Turks, however, should not be viewed as activists for the Armenian Cause. Their primary goal is to live in a democratic society that respects the rights of all citizens and acknowledges the dark pages of its past.

One such righteous Turk is Cengiz Aktar, Senior Scholar at Istanbul Policy Center, who has championed for many years recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish government.

Earlier this year, Aktar wrote two compelling columns, challenging Turkish denials of the Armenian Genocide. The first, published on April 21 in “Today’s Zaman,” was titled “The 99th Anniversary.” The second column, posted on “Al Jazeera English” website on April 24, was titled “Armenian Genocide: Turkey has Lost the Battle of Truth,” and subtitled “An empowered Turkish society is now challenging the state’s denialist paradigm on the tragic events of 1915.”

In his first article, Aktar described April 24 as “a symbolic day for Armenians who were forcibly dispersed all around the world. This collective disaster is still not recognized in Turkey. Even the fact that Anatolian Armenians were completely wiped out from their homeland is not enough for people and the state to recognize it.”

Aktar went on to ridicule Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s call for a “joint historical commission,” because it would be “composed of ‘genocide experts’ on the one side and of denialist professors on the other who cannot even convene, let alone arrive at a decision.”

Ending his column on an optimistic note, Aktar observed: “Unlike the state, Turkish society is today questioning the past and searching for appropriate answers. This is the soundest and most lasting way to face the truth. Peace will not come to these lands without confronting the past. 2015 will be the year when the quest for truth and memory will deepen, even if the government does not like it.”

In the Al Jazeera article, the Turkish scholar divided his government’s denialist campaign on the Armenian Genocide into three categories: lobbying efforts jointly with Azerbaijan, especially in the United States; hiring scholars to give Turkey’s “vulgar denialism” a scientific veneer; and diverting attention away from the Armenian Genocide Centennial by focusing on other events, such as “the Dardanelles battle victory” and “the military debacle of Sarikamis.”

Despite vigorous denialist propaganda, Aktar maintained that “Turkey has long lost the battle of truth. The destruction of the Armenian population on its ancestral land is a sheer fact, whatever else you might call it.”

Aktar proceeded to describe April 24, 1915 as “the dark day when the decision to erase Armenians from Anatolia began to be implemented by the Ottoman government of Young Turks or the Ittihadists. The rationale behind it was to engineer a homogeneous population composed of Muslims designated to form the backbone of the yet to be invented Turkish nation. Thus, there was no place for Christian populations despite their historic presence on those lands.”

The Turkish scholar then referred to a “report commissioned in May 1919 by the Ottoman government that came to power in 1918 after the demise of the Young Turks,” which stated that 800,000 Armenians had lost their lives by that date. Aktar also quoted from a book published in 1928 by the Turkish General Staff which reported that “800,000 Armenians and 200,000 Greeks died as a result of massacres, forced relocations and forced labor.” Aktar concluded: “when one adds those who died after 1918 in the Caucasus region due to hunger, illness and massacres, the figure surpasses one million. The cleansing work of Ittihadists was completed by Kemalists by obliging those throughout Anatolia whose lives were spared to take shelter in Istanbul and simultaneously by suppressing their places of worship and schools throughout Anatolia.”

The audacious Turkish intellectual ends his powerful article with a note of sober realism: “The genie is out of the bottle. When and how it will affect state policy is difficult to predict.”

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6 Comments

  1. Harutuyn said:

    Few years ago i left a comment about todays condition in turkey , i dont have the crystall ball but i’, very informed of the current affairs of the world aswe live in , so i did mentioned that every dog got its day refering to erdogans gang , and i will say it again every dog got its day even though the genie is out of the bottle it is circling around erdogans brain as we speak. it is bothering him when he goes to sleep and it is bothering him when he wakes up and it bothers him more and more specially when we are getting closer to 2015 April 24. It is bothering him from the left and from the right , it is making him crazy that he can not lie any more, he had to cover one lie with another but guess what G…….n you lost and the truth is coming out.

    • Harutuyn said:

      Mardig of course there are lots of good people in Turkey our problem or the solution is not the people it is the government of Turkey and the Turkish government has to come to its senses
      That the problem that it was created can not and will not be solved with the same attitude that it was created.

  2. Armenian said:

    With the looming threat of ISIS and the massive potential for America’s relationship with Turkey to completely sour as well as looming genocide recognition by scholars, governments and individuals around the world, I don’t know what Turkey plans on doing with its genocide-denial policies in the long run.

  3. Harutuyn said:

    Turkish FM: Genocide recognition may “hurt” ties with U.S

    Lucky Luciano thought he was untouchable
    Alfanso Capone AKA Al Capone thought he was untouchable
    John Gotti thought he was untouchable
    Moamar Qaddafi thought he was untouchable also but for the record all of the above mentioned folks were all wrong and the Turkish FM is not exempt from it as for the ties between USA and Turkey has been damaged and ruined for good as we speak and as we know , so in reality Turkey ran out of lies again and again and their so called Lobby is getting thinner and thinner , so as for the Turkish government here it is

    THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL HAS BEEN SHUT OFF DUE TO PAST AND RECENT ACTIVITIES FROM THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT.

    Denial is wrong and any one that accepts what they have done wrong will be blessed
    The day will come when we as people of Armenia will plant new trees on the Mount Ararat
    Rest assured Turkey does not have any other choice.

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