Bloody Turk!

BY ORHAN KEMAL CENGIZ

I am not a religious person. I am not Kurdish. I am not gay. I am not Christian. I am not Armenian. I am not Roma. But I have spent all my life defending these people’s rights.

I am a human rights defender. When I describe myself, I say I am a human rights defender, a lawyer and a writer. It was during my first time in London in 1998 that I realized, no matter what I do, I was a “bloody Turk” for some people. Ironically, I was working for the Kurdish Human Right Project there, and we were taking cases to the European Court of Human Rights, as a result of which I felt deeply threatened by the deep state elements in my country. When I met with the Armenian community in London, I turned into a representative of Turkey. It was the first time my “Turkishness” took precedence over all my qualifications.

Massacres of Armenians were orchestrated and organized by the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) — which came to power through a military coup — while the Ottoman Empire was falling apart. After these massacres and as a result of the lack of confrontation with our past, the CUP and its gangs changed their format and turned into the “deep state” in Turkey. These deep state elements continued their massacres and manipulations and drenched Turkey with blood during the Republican era. We have these deep state elements, but we also have many people fighting against them with or without knowing the history. The Ergenekon trial, in this sense, is a turning point in this endeavor in Turkey. You can think of the Ergenekon gang as the armed wing of the CUP in today’s Turkey.

The massacres of Armenians were carried out by a certain mindset, by a political movement. Unfortunately, this political movement also created the official Turkish history, one in which there is no place for Armenians. And the state is in complete denial of what happened in Turkey in the past. This denial unfortunately gives strong support to a racist approach toward Turkey and its people.

I was in Toronto last year attending an extremely interesting course on genocide. For two weeks we went into all the details of different genocides that took place in various parts of the world. All lecturers gave exemplary presentations, and I felt I had really learned something. However, I also realized that there was a fundamental difference in the way in which the Armenian genocide is being handled. When we spoke about the Holocaust, we spoke of the Nazi regime; when we discussed the genocide in Cambodia, we talked about the Khmer regime; when it came to the Armenian genocide, though, we only heard the word “Turks.”

Complete and blanket denial feeds complete and absolute labeling. This is a vicious circle. It is very unfortunate that some Armenians, while believing they are seeking justice, have turned into hopeless racists. They do not want to believe that there are many good people in this country. They do not want to remember that there were also Turks who lost their lives while trying to protect Armenians. They hold tightly on to this image of the “bloody Turk.” Every Turk, every individual living in Turkey, is just a murderer for them.

The pathology of amnesia and the pathology of blind hatred are two sides of one coin. They both serve the same purpose: Both leave Turks and Armenians as deeply neurotic people.

In the midst of all this madness, Hrant Dink was a safe haven of reason, wisdom and compassion. He had a deep understanding of Turkey and the trauma we have been suffering for so long. He was killed because he was the hope in the face of this madness. He could have been killed by an Armenian racist. But instead, he was killed by Turkish racists, of course, under the guidance of the deep state. Dink was a bloody Turk for Armenian racists and an Armenian traitor for racist Turks. He was a dangerous figure for all who wanted to continue this vicious circle of hatred. During his funeral, we chanted, “We all are Hrant Dink.” We all need to be Dink if we wish to contribute to reconciliation. I bow respectfully before his memory.

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8 Comments

  1. mira said:

    dear mr. ORHAN KEMAL CENGIZ,
    get off my property, pay the reparations for the crimes committed by the Committee of Union and Progress, and their supporters, and once the new border is re-sealed with what i hope a 25 meter high barbed wire wall, then and only then consider yourself and the rest of the turks to be the finest people on god green earth, till then, bloody turk, it is…

  2. William Bairamian said:

    Mr. Cengiz makes many good points. It is encouraging to see that there are Turks who are working toward better relations between Armenians and Turks without ignoring the realities of history.

    I find it to be especially important that Mr. Cengiz refers to the the Turks within the Ottoman Empire who put themselves in danger, sometimes by giving their lives, to help Armenians. It is important that both Turks and Armenians recognize this very important aspect of the Armenian Genocide which has been almost wholly ignored. For Turks, it provides a strong case against their fear of being seen as a monolithic, savage nation, making it possible for them to accept the truth that there are good and bad (read: incomprehensibly bad) people in every nation. For Armenians, it allows them to see Turks as a diverse group, among which there are people who are more committed to humanity than what they have often been taught.

    Who has ever heard of a conversation between an Armenian and a Turk that goes like this:

    Armenian: “It is important that you recognize the Genocide”
    Turk: “What genocide? You are lying.”
    Armenian: “Really? Because the Turkish family who saved my family thought it was pretty real at the time.”

    Now imagine the impact conversations like this can have on relations.

  3. Alex Postallian said:

    If only the turk wouldnt be a blatant LIAR.turkey cant hide its past of a mongol heredity, 70% illiteratcy rate,ruled by 5% military.All of Europe knows this,thats why they dont want turkey in the E.U.Over in the U.S. they spread their LIES and bakseesch ( bibery) a way of life in turkey!!!!!!

  4. Arsen said:

    I am 100% sure if Turkey properly recognized Armenian genocide they would take responsibility off turkish people and put it where it belonged and my people would not keep it against turks same way jewish people do not keep against germans.

  5. For1915 said:

    Respectfully, to Mr. Cengiz:

    Turkey is a country that worships the likes of Kemal Ataturk and Talat Pasha, two of the most inhumane men that the world has ever known. Not the average, but the majority of Turks deny that the Armenian Genocide is a historical fact. Furthermore, as I’m sure that you know, many hurl the ludicrous accusation that the Armenians committed genocide against the Turks. So, how else are we expected to view the “Bloody Turk” when that is the unequivocal reality?

    The racists were and are the Ottomans/Turks, then and now. One can turn the other cheek only so much before one has to take a decisive position to effect change.

  6. Dr. B said:

    The author’s complaint about being addressed with disproportionate anger or supposed “slurs’ are highly audacious, specially in the face of more than ninety years of Genocide denial by his government and just about 99% of his population.

    The author should project his enthusiastic energy regarding the topic with articles condemning historical revisionism, condemnation of the millions of dollars spent to bury the memory of the Genocide by his government, and the blatant denial of the truth perpetrated continually by many modern Turks even today.

    Sixty years after the Holocaust, every Jewish person on this planet including the entire state of Israel, still views Germans with distrust. However, they make the efforts to not address them as “Nazis” or “crazy Germans” because both the German people and the German government have admitted their crime against humanity and made considerable efforts toward reparations, which includes some 100 billion dollars worth of funds paid out already to the state of Israel not to mention regular visits of apology in front of the Israeli Knesset by the German Chancellor , Angela Merkel.

    Until similar efforts, reparations, and admissions of guilt are made by the Turkish government, people, and leadership, do not expect any sort of social red carpet treatment by those whose parents and grandparents were victims of one of the worst crimes against humanity to grace the 20th century. Social civility has its roots in social justice, the author should not whine about a lack of the former exhibited by Armenians without any existence of the latter exhibited by Turks first.

  7. Robert said:

    I’m a little shocked at the incivility displayed by other posters toward Mr. Cengiz. Surely his essay is continuing evidence of a segment of Turkish society that is reflective and honest regarding the Armenian genocide and other issues. Shouldn’t he be treated as a friend? Armenia cannot live in isolation. It needs a Turkish neighbor that values diversity of thought and reconciliation. Where are those qualities among the people who have responded here?

  8. Arman said:

    Armenia doesn’t need a Turkish neighbor. Robert, I think you need a Turkish neighbor.

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