British MPs Defend Genocide Book

BRUSSELS (Zaman)–In response to an April 2005 letter by the Turkish Parliament claiming that the British "Blue Book" was propaganda fabricated to vilify Ottoman Turks and that its existence continues to harm Turkish interests–the British House of Lords and House of Commons asked the letter to be retracted.

The "Blue Book," a 1916 parliamentary report–formally titled–"Treatment of Armenia’s in the Ottoman Empire 1915-16," documen’s the systematic–deliberate–and politically motivated nature of the Armenian genocide.

The response letter–which was sent to Turkish Parliamentary Speaker Bulent Arinc and the Turkish Embassy in London on January 26–was signed by 20 members of the House of Lords and 13 members of the House of Commons–including Lord Avebury–who told Zaman the letter is not official in nature.

In their response to the Turkish Parliament–Avebury said they stress the "Blue Book" was written by well-known Arnold Toynbee and based on eye-witness testimony. The letter also notes there exist readily accessible documen’s that support the book. Avebury said that the letter from Turkish Parliament conveniently ignores that detail–and makes false assertions–claiming Toynbee said the "Blue Book" was flawed.

The Turkish parliament’s letter goes as far as to say that the only source used in the book was the British "War Propaganda Bureau."

But Avebury stressed that hundreds of impartial consulate officials and missionaries verify the events at the time–including German and American diplomatic correspondence.

The reply of the British Houses says that Turkish Parliament is misinformed about the issue and that their letter does not reflect the opinions of the Turkish academics acquainted with the issue. The letter proceeds to invite the Turkish Parliament to hold a round-table conference on the issue. The reply ends with a call for parliament to retract its letter dated April 28.

Liberal Democrat Avebury–leading the campaign in Britain–said the issue should be discussed with experts–and that the letter from the Turkish Parliament did not surprise him.

Explaining why it took them so long to reply to the Turkish Parliament–Lord Avebury said: "We tried hard to get an official answer from the British parliament. We exchanged letters with the parliamentary speaker; however–he clarified that the matter is political and [he] did not want to intervene. Later–we discussed [that] ‘if we remain silent–will it mean that we accept the Turkish claims?’ And so we decided not to remain silent. This process took time–of course."

Avebury–explaining Armenian President Robert Kocharian’s rejection of the Turkish Prime Minister’s proposal to discuss the issue–said: "Naturally–you can’t accept it if you are under pressure. Turkey should first remove the embargo on Armenia. Only after that time–such proposals can be meaningful."

Lord Avebury was also asked what their response would be if Turkey refuses to retract the letter. "First we expect Turkey to accept our round table offer and then–according to Turkey’s attitude–we will decide on the next step," Avebury replied.

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