BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
I thought it was the best way to “honor” him on the occasion of his May 19th birthday.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, how grandiose, how pathetic, how sad, how destructive, and most of all, how massive a missed opportunity to pull all the peoples of the Armenian Highlands and Anatolia out of the murderous mire that was the Ottoman Empire.
When “dismantling” the Ottoman Empire to “construct” Turkey, “modern” Turkey, Ataturk allowed many of the former members of the CUP (Committee of Union and Progress, the “Young Turks,” Talaat, Enver, and Jemal’s party) to take positions of power in the “new” system. Heck, he had been a member, too. All that evil is what nurtured the early days of the new state formally established in 1923.
Ataturk allowed stolen Armenian wealth (in whatever form – money, lands, factories, etc.) to be retained by those who had taken it. The state knew where that wealth had gone, or was itself responsible for its “redistribution” as is now being documented by scholars, mostly Turkish ones. Some of the richest families in Turkey today owe their “start” to what their predecessors stole form our, Armenian, predecessors.
Under Ataturk’s rule, Turkey committed massacres, Sultan Abdul Hamid-style massacres, of Kurds and Alevis whose turn had come to be “subdued” since the Armenian “problem” had been “eliminated” by his former party (again, the CUP).
And if all this is not sufficient proof of how hate filled Ataturk was, then the suppression of the identity of the many groups, tribes, and nations that populated the peninsula of Asia Minor, west of the Armenian Highlands (and even in them) ought to be enough to convince anyone. All these peoples have been, and continue to be, coerced into believing they are Turks. All this has been done in the name of Turkish nationalism. Of course, it wasn’t nationalism, but a perversion of it. The objective was to create “Turks” as a nation, an identity, that, really, had never existed before. This was chauvinism on steroids. It was one of the most heinous manifestations of hate ever perpetrated by humans.
The remaining Armenians of the “new” Turkey, those who had returned after the genocide were not digestible by this artificially concocted nation. They had too much history, awareness, and Ottoman inflicted pain. So, they too were driven out, a second deportation. Later, when France decided to curry Ataturk’s favor with World War II was looming, it ceded part of Syria, the Sanjak of Alexandretta/Iskenderoun/Hatay (despite this Turkey largely supported Germany). To no one’s surprise Armenians living there were also driven out. This happened 20 years after WWI had ended and about the same time as Ataturk’s death. Even as he was expiring, he couldn’t avoid manifesting the hate that festered in and filled his heart.
Let’s also not forget that even Jews, whom Turkey has used to gain a better footing in Washington, DC, were also abused and persecuted during Ataturk’s watch. Perhaps the best example of this is the 1934 pogrom that occurred in Thrace.
Lest anyone be concerned that Ataturk’s hate died with him, fear not. It lives on both in the state he was pivotal in creating and Azerbaijan, Turkey’s ideological twin. The most recent evidence being the video reported by Asbarez in which Azeri children identify Armenians as their enemies.
Please, let us all help “Turks” “celebrate” Ataturk’s legacy of hate. Perhaps that will shock them into awareness of what a difficult road lies ahead forTurkey.