Turks Attempt to Use Armenians In Anti-Genocide Propaganda

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Turks Attempt to Use Armenians In Anti-Genocide Propaganda


By Harut Sassounian

Publisher, The California Courier

After publishing viciously anti-Armenian articles for many years, some Turkish newspapers have changed their tactics. They have adopted a more subtle approach in attempting to scuttle the just demands of the Armenian people. Instead of denying the Genocide outright, the Turkish press now publishes articles that urge Armenians to "let bygones be bygones, and to look to the future, not the past!" In other words, the Turks are advocating reconciliation without truth or justice.


To make matters worse, the Turkish media from time to time publishes interviews with some Armenians who reportedly make conciliatory statements which are presented as evidence that not all Armenians are "hung up" on the recognition of the Genocide.


For example, in the May 25th issue of the Turkish Daily News, Burak Bekdil, after a recent visit to Armenia, published a lengthy commentary titled, "Why Turks and Armenians must eventually shake hands." Using deceptively accommodating language, Bekdil distorts the facts of the Armenian Genocide and tries to undermine the Armenian demands.


He starts his article by calling the Genocide Memorial Monument in Yerevan "the only symbol in the world that deeply divides two nations that lived together in peace for centuries." By feigning to be indignant, Bekdil asks: "how many more centuries the Turks and Armenians will be living under the huge symbolic shadow of one monument?"


In one of the most outrageous lies in his column and in a blatant attempt to pit Armenians and Kurds against each other, Bekdil shamelessly writes: "The Armenians claim that the Ottoman Kurds, under orders from the empire in 1915-18, systematically massacred 1.5 million of their ethnic kin living in eastern Anatolia." While it is a fact that some Kurds collaborated with the Turks and carried out deadly raids on Armenian caravans, no knowledgeable person would claim that the Kurds committed the Armenian Genocide, while the Turks acted as innocent bystanders. If that were the case, the Turkish government would have eagerly recognized "the genocide committed by the Kurds against the Armenians."


After repeating the standard Turkish lies on the Armenian Genocide, and accusing Armenians of "systematically killing hundreds of thousands of Turks," while only "thousands of Armenians died from cold weather, starvation and disease," Bekdil sheds crocodile tears over the fact that "in 2004, there are two nations, once friends, accusing each other of a genocide that is said to have taken place 90 years ago and are locked over the dispute, perhaps forever."


Bekdil seems quite ignorant about the most basic facts of not only the Armenian Genocide, but of Turkish history. Otherwise, he would not have asked the following very foolish question: "Has any Armenian ever been curious enough to know how many Turks actually lived in eastern Anatolia in 1915-18 and, if by any chance there were a few, could those few physically have been capable of massacring 700,000-1.5 million others?" Bekdil espouses the baseless notion that the Diaspora is dictating to the Armenian government its hard-line position on the Armenian Genocide. Armenia "must maintain an extremely delicate balance between what reality dictates and what its Diaspora sponsors impose," Bekdil falsely asserts. He then makes several nonsense statements, such as: "The Armenian mindset is deeply fractured. Diaspora Armenians think the genocide issue is their 'raison d'etre.' As for a possible deal with the Turks, they believe they should represent the entire Armenian population. Are they not, after all, the ones who financially keep the Armenian state alive?" Bekdil conveniently forgets that Pres. Kocharian, at his own initiative, has included the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide on the foreign policy agenda of the Republic of Armenia. The Turkish officials are the ones who reject Armenia's unconditional offer to establish diplomatic relations, and they keep the border closed in order to force Armenia's population into abandoning their historic claims.


Bekdil then introduces Nishan Atinizian of Boston -- one of the major investors in the new Armenia Marriott Hotel -- as someone who "thinks it would be grossly stupid if Turks and Armenians lived in hostility forever." The Turkish commentator then claims that Atinizian thinks, "it is the historians' job to find out what really happened 90 years ago." It is highly doubtful that Atinizian would make such a statement. Armenians know first-hand what happened to them. They need no historians to tell them what happened in 1915! Such a statement would also run counter to the fact that Atinizian generously contributes large sums of money to a major Armenian-American activist organization that has, as one of its goals, the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.


Bekdil claims that Atinizian is "fed up" with American politicians who benefit from "the genocide industry" by getting campaign contributions from Armenians, "promising to pay [us] back in genocide memorials." He is quoted as saying, "I don't care if the Americans or the French recognize the genocide. This is an issue between Armenians and Turks. What more should I ask from the Turks if they opened their archives so that Turkish Armenians could trace their family roots?"


Nishan Atinizian told me this week that most of the statements attributed to him by Bekdil are false. Atinizian angrily said he would write to Bekdil demanding a retraction and an apology. He had a conversation with the Turkish commentator at the sidewalk cafe in front of Marriott hotel in Yerevan and discussed mostly the potential benefits of opening the Turkish-Armenian border.


Bekdil then continues his column and introduces another Atinizian, David, of Yerevan - no relation to Nishan. The Turkish commentator presents the following outrageous views as being those of David's which are supposedly sensible like those of most "homeland Armenians": "a) injecting hatred into the minds of generations of Turks and Armenians reflects an archaic thinking that should have no place in the 21st century; b) the genocide was masterminded by the Ottomans and carried our by the Kurds; c) it happened because the Russians had engineered an Armenian uprising against the Ottoman Empire; d) some 350,000 Turks died as well, as a result of Armenian atrocities in 1915-18; e) the Turkey of today cannot be held responsible for the genocide; and f) it is totally pointless, against international law and unrealistic if some Armenians dream of any part of eastern Anatolia as part of Armenia." Bekdil commends Nishan and David Atinizian for being "realists." Nishan Atinizian, who was present during David's conversation with Bekdil, told me this week that David did not make any of these statements.


We hope that Nishan and David Atinizian and all other Armenians learn a very valuable lesson - never agree to talk to a Turkish journalist, even off the record! Otherwise, when the article comes out, and distorted statements are published in your name, you have to do a lot of back peddling to prove that you did not make the statements attributed to you. The two Atinizians should take all necessary steps to set the record straight so that the Armenian community worldwide would not believe that they said the things the Turkish Daily News claims they did. The timing of this Turkish commentary is most unfortunate, as the Atinizians and their business partners are getting ready to celebrate the grand opening of the Armenia Marriott Hotel in Yerevan next week. The last thing they need is a controversial article in the Turkish press claiming that one of their partners has made such disparaging remarks about the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.



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