BY HRAZTAN SARKIS ZEITLIAN
Imagine that the German State that came into being after World War II never acknowledged Nazi Germany’s Holocaust and used all of its state powers to deny it. And then imagine if contemporary Germany used its international stature as a regional power to put pressure on the US Government and other countries, not to use the word ‘Genocide’ to describe the Holocaust. Imagine if Germany today denied the existence of important Jewish cultural monuments on its territory, left them in disrepair, in mis-identification as non-Jewish, and or subject to abuse either benign or malicious. If Germany had done these things, the entire Free World would be fighting still today for the recognition of the Holocaust and the prosecution of Holocaust deniers.
Today the Turkish state that followed the Ottoman Empire is engaged in doing all of the above vis a vis the Genocide of the Armenians during Ottoman Turkey.
The Armenian Genocide was the first crime of its kind in the modern era where tools of modernity, such as scientific censuses, statistics and modern means of governmental management and organization, as well as modern technologies such as the telegraphy for example were used by the Ottoman State at a geographical scale to annihilate the Armenian Nation. As such it was a source of fascination for Hitler and the Nazis, and a reference for them as they planned the Jewish Holocaust.
What makes the Armenian Genocide different from the Holocaust or other Genocides of the Modern Era, is that it is not only a crime of Genocide but beyond ethnic eradication or extermination based on religious identification, it is a direct attempt to falsify the very History of the place. It is a crime against History. It is an attempt to erase the History and Historical identity of the Land in which the Armenian People existed, that was once part and parcel and the very heart of Historical Armenia.
The Armenian Genocide therefore is not only Genocide but it is also an attempt at “Historicide” or “Historiophagy” a new name for a crime against humanity: the attempt to deny the present and past and therefore the future existence of a people in their historical homeland.
What is astonishing about theTurkish State’s denial of the crime of Genocide is that it makes the entire Turkish People hostage by the position of their state, unable themselves to come to grips with the original crime of the Genocide because of the mistaken position of the State. To fight for the recognition of this Genocide is also a way to free the Turkish people from their own dark past. Finally, the continued pressure by the Turkish Sate on international governments not to use the word Genocide forces their leaders into moral duplicity under pressure of realpolitik considerations.
Turkey today continues to deny the crime and as a result continues indirectly the crime of Genocide. The Turkish state is implicated with the original crime through denial. Genocide denial is a form of continued persecution of the descendants of the escapees of the Genocide. Exiled escapees of the Genocide are today unable to return and claim their stolen property and cannot come to grasp with and bring closure to the loss they have been subjected to because the crime is denied.
At the very core of the current Turkish State is its denial of the Genocide and ethnic and religious cleansing that was planned to create a state identified as Turkish as opposed to the mosaic of cultures that the Ottoman State was. As such the very being and becoming of the Turkish State itself is arguably based on the crime of Genocide.
Each participant element of the apparatus of that state is implicated indirectly with the original crime as long as it continues the suppression of the word Genocide and the denial of the crime of Genocide. As long as the Turkish State does not cleanse itself of this Denial, through admission and by coming to terms with the legacy of the crime of Genocide, the current Turkish State will remain indirectly implicated in the crime.
The Armenian Genocide is an urgent cause for the Free World because the perpetrators were never appropriately/fully prosecuted by any international tribunal and the international community never fully acknowledged it because of the Turkish State pressure directly or indirectly through the insinuations of realpolitik.
The Recognition of the Armenian Genocide is and remains an urgent cause for the Free World.