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Twelve Ways To Deny A Genocide
By Israel Charny, these 12 methods were originally called "Templates for Gross Denial of a Known Genocide: A Manual" in The Encyclopedia of Genocide, volume 1, page 168. These 12 tactics have all been followed (or perhaps more the more accurate word is pioneered) by the Turkish Government, in its genocide denial campaign.
1. Question and minimize the statistics.
- This is one of the biggest distractions to the main issue itself. By claiming that the numbers are exaggerated or inflated, and that only a few hundred thousand were killed, not over a million, they try to completely side-track the entire issue. As if a few hundred thousand would not have been a genocide as well.
2. Attack the motivations of the truth-tellers.
- The claim that Armenians cannot be trusted because they may want reparations is like saying no victim should ever be heard, because they are biased in their pursuit of justice.
3. Claim that the deaths were inadvertent.
- As a result of famine, migration, or disease, not because of willful murder. Also mention that Turks/Muslims died too at that time - without mentioning that they died on the battlefield, not at the hands of their very own government.
4. Emphasize the strangeness of the victims.
- The victims were infidels (Christians), a fifth-column, and not "good" Ottoman Turks.
5. Rationalize the deaths as the result of tribal conflict, coming to the victims out of the inevitability of their history of relationships.
- Check. Armenians and Turks could not share that land anymore since some Armenians might prefer independence to being second class citizens.
6. Blame “out of control” forces for committing the killings.
- They often blame the very Kurds they later struggled to keep down.
7. Avoid antagonizing the genocidists, who might walk out of “the peace process.”
- Turkey refuses to even open diplomatic relations with Armenia because it talks about the Armenian Genocide.
8. Justify denial in favor of current economic interests.
- Undoubtedly Turkey's number one weapon in denying the Armenian Genocide. Constant threats to the west the military contracts worth billions will be canceled have worked wonders in legislatures considering the issue. In fact, the debate over whether to officially recognize the genocide in the west is clearly not about whether it happened or not - since it very clearly did - but on just what economic/diplomatic repercussions Turkey has threatened or might retaliate with if they do recognize a 90 year old truth.
9. Claim that the victims are receiving good treatment, while baldly denying the charges of genocide outright.
- Show how a few thousand Armenians were not killed in Istanbul as evidence that 2.5 million were not killed/driven out in Anatolia.
10. Claim that what is going on doesn’t fit the definition of genocide. At the time of writing (September 2004), the European Union, the Secretary General of the United Nations and even Amnesty International still avoid calling the crimes in Darfur by their proper name. There are three reasons for such reluctance:
- A. Another misconception is the “all or none” concept of genocide. The all-or-none school considers killings to be genocide only if their intent is to destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group “in whole.” Their model is the Holocaust. They ignore the “in part” in the definition in the Genocide Convention, which they often haven’t read.
- B. Since the 1990’s, a new obstacle to calling genocide by its proper name has been the distinction between genocide and “ethnic cleansing,” a term originally invented as a euphemism for genocide in the Balkans. Genocide and “ethnic cleansing” are sometimes portrayed as mutually exclusive crimes, but they are not. Prof. Schabas, for example, says that the intent of “ethnic cleansing” is expulsion of a group, whereas the intent of “genocide” is its destruction, in whole or in part. He illustrates with a simplistic distinction: in “ethnic cleansing,” borders are left open and a group is driven out; in “genocide,” borders are closed and a group is killed.
- C. Claim that the “intent” of the perpetrator is merely “ethnic cleansing” not “genocide,” which requires the specific intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. The U.N. Commission of Experts report of 2005 took this way out. It confused motive with intent. (Ironically, the U.N. Commission report even included a paragraph saying motive and intent should not be confused, an exhortation the Commission promptly violated, itself.) Even if the motive of a perpetrator is to drive a group off its land (“ethnic cleansing”), killing members of the group and other acts enumerated in the Genocide Convention may still have the specific intent to destroy the group, in whole or in part. That’s genocide.
11. Blame the victims.
- Perhaps the most insulting tactic of all. Saying that actually it was the Armenians who were massacring and wiping out Turks.
12. Say that peace and reconciliation are more important that blaming people for genocide.
- This is often heard from Turks, American government officials and others who have clearly never been victims of genocide. Much like telling a man whose mother was raped and murdered by the next door neighbor that it is more important to get along with your neighbors, this will never be accepted by Armenians who deserve and need an apology and reparations. They need an apology from Turkey now not only for the genocide, but for the nearly century long denial and miseducation campaign that took place, the continued mistreatment of Armenians in Turkey, the blockade of Armenia since the early 1990s and the post-genocidal war taking even more Armenian land.