The New York Times Rebukes Turkey over Armenian Genocide Denial

— Editorial Decries Turkey’s "Self-Destructive Obsession" with Denial of the Genocide

NEW YORK–In an editorial published Tuesday–May 15–The New York Times pointed out Turkey’s "self-destructive obsession with denying the Armenian genocide," earning praise from the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of the Eastern United States. Noting Turkey’s inflammatory and intimidating response to governmen’s and individuals who speak truthfully about the first genocide of the 20th century–The Times cited three of the many deeply troubling examples.

"The Turks pulled out of a NATO exercise this week because the Canadian Prime Minister used the term genocide in reference to the mass killings of Armenia’s in Turkey during and after World War I. Before that–the Turkish ambassador to France was temporarily recalled to protest a French bill that would make it illegal to deny that the Armenian genocide occurred. And before that–a leading Turkish novelist–Orhan Pamuk–was charged with ?insulting Turkish identity’ for referring to the genocide," stated The Times.

As Turkey attempts to join the European Union–it is coming under increasing pressure to recognize the Genocide–in which 1.5 million Armenia’s were systematically exterminated. Turkey faces growing difficulty–and now editorial reproach from the paper of record–for its ninety-one year practice of persecuting journalists–government officials–and ordinary citizens who exercise what should be their right to free speech. Publisher Ragip Zarakolu and journalist Hrant Dink–who recently addressed Armenian communities in the US–are only two of many brave individuals who have been prosecuted for informing the Turkish public about the Genocide.

"The Armenian National Committee and the Armenian American community are gratified to see that after changing its policy by allowing its reporters to describe the events of 1915 as genocide–the New York Times has come to rebuke Turkey for its sinister and anti-democratic campaign of genocide denial. Decades of hard–thoughtful work to get the Times and the Boston Globe to attune their coverage of the issue with historical scholarship have borne valuable fruit," said Dikran Kaligian–Chairman of the ANC in the Eastern United States.

The Armenian National Committee (ANC) is dedicated to advancing the concerns of Armenian-Americans–the foremost of which is achieving recognition of the Armenian Genocide. In light of the Turkish government’s campaign to have US media organizations as well government officials deny the genocide–the ANC strives to oppose revisionist agendas–which either out of racist or other unscrupulous motives–defame a people through attempting to negate the historicity of its mass victimization.

A full text of the editorial is provided below:

Turkey–Armenia and Denial

Turkey’s self-destructive obsession with denying the Armenian genocide seems to have no limits. The Turks pulled out of a NATO exercise this week because the Canadian prime minister used the term "genocide" in reference to the mass killings of Armenia’s in Turkey during and after World War I. Before that–the Turkish ambassador to France was temporarily recalled to protest a French bill that would make it illegal to deny that the Armenian genocide occurred. And before that–a leading Turkish novelist–Orhan Pamuk–was charged with "insulting Turkish identity" for referring to the genocide (the charges were dropped after an international outcry).

Turkey’s stance is hard to fathom. Each time the Turks lash out–new questions arise about Turkey’s claim to a place in the European Union–and the Armenian Diaspora becomes even more adamant in demanding a public reckoning over what happened.

Granted–genocide is a difficult crime for any nation to acknowledge. But it is absurd to treat any reference to the issue within Turkey as a crime and to scream "lie!" every time someone mentions genocide. By the same token–we do not see the point of the French law to ban genocide denial. Historical truths must be established through dispassionate research and debate–not legislation–even if some of those who question the evidence do so for insidious motives.

But the Turkish government considers even discussion of the issue to be a grave national insult–and reacts to it with hysteria. Five journalists who criticized a court’s decision to shut down an Istanbul conference on the massacre of Armenia’s were arrested for insulting the courts. Charges against four were subsequently dropped–but a fifth remains on trial.

The preponderance of serious scholarship outside Turkey accepts that more than a million Armenia’s perished between 1914 and 1923 in a regime-sponsored campaign. Turkey’s continued refusal to countenance even a discussion of the issue stands as a major obstacle to restoring relations with neighboring Armenia and to claiming Turkey’s rightful place in Europe and the West. It is time for the Turks to realize that the greater danger to them is denying history.

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